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(The Care Guy)
20 Commandments 10: Relatives
Posted on 7:32am Monday 25th Jun 2012
20 commandments 10: Thou shalt consider family and good friends of your clients as team players (unless it’s impossible) and support them well in the interests of your client
We’ve all met people whose relatives are far from therapeutic. I remember one psychiatrist who used to long for the surgical procedure he called ‘parentectomy’, so common is the phenomenon. Some people really are damaged by their families and it would be ridiculous of me to pretend otherwise.
But let’s keep this in perspective. Most relatives are not abusive and whilst they’re not necessarily perfect – neither is anyone else. As a general rule relatives and friends are keen to help support our service-users and rather than face criticism for being fallible they will be far more helpful (and happy in their own right) if we work with them as part of a team.
Even families characterised by high expressed emotion (HEE) don’t need our disapproval. Rather it’s useful to work with them and the client to come up with less emotive ways to deal with their problems.
Arguably, until we are prepared to engage with the people that our service-user spends most of their time with our work will be much more likely to fail.
If we take a bigoted and judgemental attitude to relatives; if we exclude them because of our own petty assumptions about relatives being ‘part of the problem’ we sabotage our own work.
More importantly – the people who pay the price of our self-sabotage won’t be us, they will be the service-user and their friends and family.
It’s no wonder that so many relatives think of mental health workers as cold and unhelpful when so many of us are so ready to judge them for being human and fallible in some extremely difficult circumstances.
There are situations in which relatives are undeniably a part of the problem. Sometimes they’re the cause. But this most definitely isn’t the norm.
We have a duty (so far as confidentiality and safeguarding protocols will allow) to involve and work with everyone whose prepared to do so.
Based on the work of ‘Margreeth H.’