Since the purpose of this assignment is to analyze the experience of asking for help, the behavior of the person whom I asked it for, and the results that I obtained, I started recollecting similar situations. It was not hard to make a decision, as the problem that I am about to share and interpret has to be of significant emotional value to me.
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To begin with, let me share my story. The situation I recall happened to me some time ago. I was really nervous before going to the university for the first time. It was one week away from the beginning of the term, and the possible prospects were frightening. The reason for this emotional concern is that I never really was a people person while attending school. I cannot impress you by having a lot of friends or being open and communicative.
I often felt neglected and sometimes even invisible because other kids would not give me an opportunity to show them who I really am. They would not even want to sit next to me during the classes or share a table during lunch. I had a close friend who lived in the neighborhood but he was not going to the same school, so I felt really alone for the most part of the day. I may say that I am lucky because other kids never physically insulted me but the fact of the general ignorance and unwillingness to get to know me better was a terrible emotional burden. So, the fear that the university would be the same experience was overwhelming.
While attending school I often discussed this situation with my parents and my friend, but I never really reached for help or demonstrated the longing for changing myself of where I was, so we could not reach the solution of this problem with them. So, I decided that I needed to see a professional. I am lucky enough because my aunt was a social worker. I do not know why I did not want to see her earlier in my life, but the desire to make friends with my future course mates and enjoy going to the university motivated me to see my aunt as a professional and share my problem with her.
The reason for choosing her was obvious – she was a professional helper. My mother often asked me to talk to her about how I feel, but I would not accept this proposition because I was afraid to open up and be rejected. However, I came to a realization that because my aunt is a professional, she could help me. What is more, I knew that my aunt had compassion to people, was aware of the importance of human relationships and the role of life experience in individual’s further development (Eruera, 2013).
What is even more important, she was known as the one who is competent and strictly follows professional ethics, believed in human dignity (National Association of Social Workers, 2008), and had a rich experience in helping people with the problems similar to mine. Together with that, I did not want to share my problems with a stranger because somehow I felt that I would not be able to open myself to the maximum extent to the person I did not know.
So, the decision was made, and I went to my aunt’s office to receive assistance. By the way, I have chosen to see her at her working place, not at home because I thought that it would help me see her as a professional, not my aunt.
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As I set in a waiting room, I felt a little bit awkward and uncomfortable and did not know what the experience would be like and how my aunt was going to treat me. However, as soon as I entered the office and saw her calming smile, all the nervousness faded away. As I set down and we started our conversation, I realized that it was not my aunt I was talking to, it was a person who could draw distinct boundaries between the personal and professional life (National Association of Social Workers, 2008) and she treated me like her patient, not a family member.
She wanted to make me feel comfortable, and the distinction between professional and personal worked perfectly for this purpose. To begin with, she asked me what my social role was and what was the initial issue bothering me. As I found out later, people carry out several social roles at once (Sheafor & Horejsi, 2012). In my case, I was a child to my parents, a relative to the rest family members, a student, a citizen, and a friend to my neighbor. My aunt asked me about every role I perform, and it turned out that for some reasons I failed to carry out the social role of a friend to the maximum extent, as I had some problems with communicating with kids at school and making more acquaintances.
During the whole conversation, I felt that I was viewed as a whole person having a personality and many other dimensions (Sheafor & Horejsi, 2012). I felt uncomfortable at the very beginning of our dialogue, and my thoughts were a mess, but she made me trust her and share my concerns with her without a fear of being judged or misunderstood. My aunt helped me believe that I am accepted by her and that my problem was vital, so I trusted her and revealed my secrets without any fear. What also helped me is that my aunt put questions that would guide me in a needed direction, so she would be able to find out what my troubles are about. She made me understand that we will focus on my social environment and try to improve it.
When I looked at my aunt, I saw that she was absolutely discreet and open and wanted to help me deal with my fears. She told me that I had a right to self-determination and should not feel uncomfortable that I do not have many friends only because other kids do and made me realize that I may be a little bit different that they are, and that I might find it enough to have only one friend. Except for her calm and supportive manner of speaking and clear language she used, what also made me feel comfortable is the non-verbal aspect of communication.
My aunt never made me feel mistrust or that she was building up emotional barriers by an open body posture, discreet smile, and a look demonstrating understanding and non-judgment. Moreover, she would not let her any redundant physical contacts except for the ones aimed at making me trust her (National Association of Social Workers, 2008) like caressing my arm or tapping my shoulder.
My aunt as a professional also told me that if I wanted to change the current situation, I would need social care, social treatment, and social enhancement to help me deal with my problem (Sheafor & Horejsi, 2012). As I later learned, social care would help me understand the origins of my matter of concern and provide me with the resources to work it out. In my case, this resource would be an effort to make me accept myself the way I am and feel comfortable when surrounded by people whom I do not know yet. Social treatment would help me fix the dysfunction in carrying out a role of friend and enforce the ability to change. Finally, social enhancement will help me make new acquaintances as soon as I reach a qualitatively new level of self-progress and accepting myself the way I am.
As some time passed, I realized that the experience of asking for help changed me. First of all, it helped me accept myself the way I am. Second, it made me understand that I am a complete person living in a certain environment, but it is easy to change it whenever I want; all I need is the desire to do so. Finally, it taught me that asking for help is a normal thing for a human as a social being and that no one is going to understand my needs unless I tell them myself.
My aunt, by the way, has proved to be a competent professional who respects human dignity and everyone’s right to self-determination as well as the sanctity of patient confidentiality. At least, the rest of my family members do not know what our conversation was about up to the present day. My aunt taught me that I can trust her and that she would be there for me whenever I have problems that are of extreme emotional value to me.
Furthermore, this experience taught me what it takes to be an effective helper and successfully engage a client. If it were not for me to ask for help and overcome the fear of being rejected, I would have never understood how scary and difficult it is to reach out and seek help of other people. I have learned that social workers like every individual perform different roles and, therefore, carry out many functions, and only a combination of many will help become a professional (Sheafor & Horejsi, 2012).
Together with that, looking at my aunt, I realized that it is extremely important to draw a distinct line between the personal and professional spheres of life because, first, it will let understand the person you know and discover his or her matters of concern from the new perspective. Second, the ability to separate these fields will help you avoid profound changes in your personality in response to the experiences of your patients. Third, I learned how significant it is to make a client feel accepted and trust you by keeping their secrets to yourself and that acting within a field of competence is the most crucial thing in the career of a social worker because it is the only way to do this work effectively.
Fourth, I became aware that it is important to not interfere with the individual’s personal space by excess physical contact. The reason is obvious – you do not now the background of the person yet, and he or she may have come with the problems arising from physical insult, that is why it is better to keep the distance so that the person can trust you (National Association of Social Workers, 2008).
Finally, I discovered that if you want to understand the one who has reached out for your help no matter what your role is, a friend or a social worker, you should view him as a complete person who carries out many roles and has many dimensions. It is vital because limiting the roles and dimensions to just one, you will not be able to find the reasons for the patient’s troubles and the ways to solve them (Sheafor & Horejsi, 2012).
I should also say that this experience has taught me how difficult it is to reach out and ask for help in the matters that are really crucial to you, especially when it comes to emotional significance. People especially those who have been treated badly and neglected since their childhood, are afraid to open up because they have a fear of being rejected again. What is more, they do not believe that others can see them as those who have the right to be the very way they are, and that is why they have a dread of being judged. So, I have learned that the most important thing in making clients trust you and helping them is non-judgment and believing in human dignity as well as keeping all their secrets safe.
Eruera, M. (2013). An indigenous social work experience in Aotearoa New Zealand. In Cree, V. E. (Ed.) Becoming a social worker: Global narratives (pp. 78-87). Abington, Oxon: Routledge.
National Association of Social Workers. (2008). Code of ethics. Web.
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Sheafor, B. W., & Horejsi, C. R. (2012). Techniques and guidelines for social work practice (9th ed.). New York, New York: Pearson.