In our continuation of conversations about crisis counseling (lots of C words in that phrase), we’re going to take a look today about things NOT to do in a counseling situation.
- Don’t sit behind your desk. I have a desk in my office and it faces the door. I hate it. Nothing says “I’m better than you” than having a desk between you and the other person. Put a sofa or comfy chair adjacent to your chair so there are no barriers between you. Think of a desk like a wall.
- Don’t take a ton of notes. If you remember from the previous post, we have to do a good job in listening. If we are taking a ton of notes it communicates we’re not listening to every word. Take some notes…but don’t spend all your time writing stuff down.
- Don’t look at your watch, computer, clock, cell phone, etc…when you check the time you’re communicating a number of things. First, that you are bored. Second, they are not worth your time and third, the schedule is more important than the conversation. Obviously if you’re limited on time, make sure that is communicated before you start talking together.
- Don’t think you can do it all by yourself. If you have to get together more than 4 times, you may want to consider referring your student to a professional counseling service. If you’re dealing with a teenage break up, you probably won’t need to refer. But if your student is dealing with eating disorders or deep depression, don’t hesitate to refer. It’s responsible and extremely appropriate.
- Don’t counsel a member of the opposite sex alone. If I have a girl in my office, I keep the blinds on my window open. I let someone know that I’m going to have a girl in my office. You have to let other people know what’s going on in case, heaven forbid, something is said. Be prepared.
- Never counsel a member of the opposite sex more than 3 times. This is hard, but so important. Inappropriate relationships are formed by situations between an adult and a teenager where a significant amount of emotion is being expelled. You may have the best of intentions, but these things have been known to work on even the best of youth workers in a very negative and damaging way.
There are many other things NOT to do when in a counseling situation, but I wanted to leave of these things up for discussion. What things have you learned to never do?