Most times people mean well as friends or peer counselors in trying to help a friend or colleagues facing a personal crisis. However in order for such efforts to be effective, it is not enough to mean well but to communicate care the appropriate way.
The following are examples of common statements one should avoid making to hurting folks in crisis during any helping or counselling intervention efforts.
1. GET OVER IT!
This is one of the most common unguarded comments made to individuals in troubling situations. If he could, he would have gotten over it without seeking for help. Even if it appears as though the counselee is just seeking attention, there must be an underlying need which he may be trying to disguise with the manifest expression.
What is needed first of all is warm acceptance before venturing into the issue at hand. Even if there was an exaggeration of matters, your reception will help him in facing reality. Remember what seems simple to one may be a complex to another.
2. YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE!
This is one of the most insensitive remarks that a friend, a so called ‘counselor’ or even a stranger can make to a person in pain. It doesn’t matter if the whole world was going through the same experience as it doesn’t negate the fact that the individual is adversely affected by the situation and personally distressed. When an individual reaches for help, he wants a change in his situation regardless of the opinions or choices of others. While some may be able to cope with the situation, those who seek help should be attended to.
3. IF ONLY YOU DIDN’T DO THAT
This statement clearly shows a lack of discretion. Blame does not solve problems that are already on ground but can compound them. For an individual who obviously might have played a role in his circumstance to reach out for help, it suggests that he is most likely remorseful about his decision and desires a change. His need for restoration must override the helper’s desire for correction which should come in as a tool for change not judgment.
4. IT’S NOT AS BAD AS YOU ARE MAKING IT
If it appears bad to the individual, it probably feels that bad to him. This means that each individual’s experience is unique. His interpretations and reactions to situations are a reflection of his personal nature and nurturing experiences. Therefore, most likely, you won’t know how it feels except at you take an empathetic position to view the situation from the counselee’s perspective.
So long as you are not the ones in the shoes, you may not know where or even how it pinches. This does not mean you can’t have a wholesome view of the situation but you need to know where your client is coming from rather than make assumptions.
5. IF I WERE YOU………
Obviously, you are not the one on the hot seat. You are not the one whose life is falling apart, you are not the one who’s living on the edge, and you are not the one needing help, at least not in this case. Even if you are facing a similar situation, please always remember people don’t want to feel stupid or worse. If you have similar experiences, you can use them to communicate understanding and not a lecture on your superior expertise. And per chance your experience didn’t go well, please don’t raise it at all. A helper must be focused on making life better for his client.
*Please note: the term client here refers to an individual needing help. Help and Helper refer to peer or voluntary counselling.
Do feel free to send me contact me if you are struggling in some way.
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