Friday, July 04, 2008

Eating crow, again

Last night my anger management group was TERRIBLE. My group work professor, Dr. Meander, said that if we needed help or support once we found our first job, we could contact her. So I did:

Hi Dr. M.,

Happy fourth of July!

You said you wanted to be a resource for us when we started working, so I'm writing to ask for your help. I am a substance abuse therapist in a mandated program. I facilitate two groups, one relapse prevention -- mandatory for all clients -- and one anger management, which only some clients have to attend. I also have 29 individual clients (they're supposed to be reducing my caseload), some of whom are in my groups.

As you may surmise, the clients really do not want to be in the anger management group. Most of them have already had some other anger management treatment, although it does not seem to have had much effect. They don't see the point of this group, even though they are all -- in my opinion and the opinion of the program -- still VERY angry and not handling it very well. They resent the intrusion on their time, the 10-minute rule (if they arrive more than 10 minutes late, they can't come into group), my socioeconomic and alleged lack of understanding of their situation, etc. They think the CBT-based curriculum is pointless.

So they are very difficult to engage and manage, and last night was a disaster. One member threw a fit because I asked her to sign in when she came in (late), after I'd already greeted her in the reception area. She said I had no manners.

Two new members started griping about the program, not wanting to be there because they work hard all day, not like some people who only sit behind a desk. One would not stop complaining about how he wasn't getting MetroCards (which they only get after their Medicaid is active, and his isn't) and how I wouldn't see him after he blew off his appointment because he was moving and then came in, expecting to see me when I had other clients.

Another was angry because (after he skipped two individual sessions with me and one group) I contacted his probation officer, which I'm obligated to do. And they were all pissed about me enforcing the 10-minute rule, telling me that I'm new and other counselors let people in late all the time.

It just devolved into one huge bitch session, and I gave up on the lesson and let them complain, which I could tell frustrated the few participants who wanted to work on the lesson. I could sure use some help with this. I'm not sure how to prevent this from happening again. I know I forgot to reinforce the basic ground rules of confidentiality and respect for where people are at (not talking over each other or interrupting, and not bringing unrelated material into the group). But I felt like a complete idiot, and I could use some guidance.

Thanks, Ayelet

Ideally, I'll hear from her before I have to talk to my supervisor on Monday about this episode.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

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