ONE: Building and Maintaining Interpersonal Attachments
Highly effective PSR workers work to maintain interpersonal attachments. PSR workers value their relationships with themselves, clients, colleagues, family and friends, and members of the community. Effective PSR workers believed that, to maintain competence and build expertise, they must continually be in relationships with others in the field, whether in supervision or consultation or purely for collegial support and friendship.
Pertaining to performing competently in their work, which is central to ethical practice, effective PSR workers believe that the client-worker relationship is the key to effecting positive change in clients.
Effective PSR workers attempt to uphold high ethical standards when interacting with others in both their professional and personal life. In most relationships, even those in the community at large, the PSR workers strived for congruence between their values and the way they lived their lives.
TWO: Client Autonomy
The right of individuals to determine the course of their own lives seemed to be a central value guiding effective PSR workers. PSR workers respect the phenomenological worldviews of their clients and hold the belief that for change to occur, clients must be allowed to determine the timing and direction of the therapeutic process. As PSR workers our basic mission is to help them see their choices, and if they want to make bad choices … the PSR worker’s job is to help them see what the consequence will be if they do that.
Competent PSR workers were aware of the ethical dangers of thinking they know what is best for their clients and, therefore, worked to avoid imposing their own beliefs, values, and ideals on clients. Effective PSR workers often realize this due to this being a central tenant of their own personal development. The most effective PSR workers believe strongly in the ability of their clients to direct their own lives.
PSR workers feel moved to reduce human suffering and to work toward improving the welfare of others. In their unique role PSR workers have the opportunity to demonstrate caring by helping to transform painful experiences into sources of personal strength. As workers we are like the final fairy godmother in the Disney Movie “Sleeping Beauty.” We can’t change what was laid down earlier; but we can help a person soften it or make it go in ways that are more interesting.
The best PSR workers express a good deal of satisfaction in helping others. However, rather than acting out of completely altruistic motives, these workers acknowledged that they entered this field to meet their personal need to be useful or to accrue other personal benefits in their professional work.
Not only do PSR workers value helping others, they also were are of the tremendous potential to do damage in the context of the therapeutic relationship. They seem mindful of the ways they could potentially harm their clients and had developed measures to minimize this risk.
Effective PSR workers are aware that there is the risk that the worker may start to use the client for his or her own emotional sustenance… Therefore they are on guard against this, knowing that he or she must meet their own needs, that they must be well fed and loved. Effective PSR workers strongly believe in managing the personal and professional stressors that can lead to harming clients. Workers who are not aware of their own needs, and become stuck in working with a client can make it about the client, instead of about themselves. When this happens you are at risk of being abusive to the client.
FIVE: Building and Maintaining Expertise
The best PSR workers value being exceptionally skilled in their work. They are highly motivated to move beyond the minimum competency level required by ethical and practice standards toward expertise in their field. These workers, even after years of experience and training, place a high value on maintaining and building their skills set.
The most effective PSR workers continually seek out formal and informal training to broaden their cognitive and clinical abilities. The drive for competency combined with an awareness of limitations inspire the best workers to be lifelong learners. It is likely that keeping current on the latest developments in their profession and exposing their work to others for feedback minimizes the potential for unethical behavior.
Effective PSR workers do not, however, limit their search for knowledge and skill to their work. They expand their study to all aspects of their life.
Clients report that the best workers display humility. These PSR workers awareness of their limitations seemed to inspire them to keep on growing professionally and personally. In contrast bad workers don’t know what they don’t know. They think they know everything. Poor PSR workers have an “I’ve going to fix your problems for you” kind of perspective on everything.
I think if one begins to think of oneself as knowing what their client’s needs, it can lead to grandiosity. It can pave the way to all sorts of misuse of power. The seasoned worker who is so confident in his or her abilities that the rules no longer apply, is a danger both to the client, and to our profession at large.
PSR workers expressed a deep commitment to awareness of their own life issues. Their self-awareness seemed to center around two issues: (a) understanding and fulfilling their personal emotional and physical needs; and (b) awareness of their own unfinished business, personal conflicts, defenses, and vulnerabilities. More importantly, the PSR workers were well aware of the potential for these issues to intrude upon the PSR session. It is paramount to effective workers to be aware of personal emotional needs and fulfilling those needs through various activities including travel, exercise, spiritual practice, and contacts with colleagues, friends, and family. The ability to meet the clients’ needs become compromised when workers do not obtain appropriate resources to meet their own personal needs.