Thursday, July 28, 2016

Fundamentals Of Helping: You Have To Meet Them Where They're At

Have you ever tried to help someone and they don't want your kind of help. You can see they need something specific to be healthy, but they're asking for something that will be unhealthy. Just to be clear, here's an example: John Doe needs drug treatment and mental health trauma counseling in a therapeutic environment. So you reach out to him with this in mind. However, your shocked when John Doe asks you for money instead. You know he doesn't need money, he needs treatment. So you two are at a stalemate. Ultimately, you walk away because "he'll need to hit rock bottom first". 
There in lies the problem. John Doe isn't thinking clearly and doesn't know what he needs. You can't force it on him. So what, "oh well, I tried"? No!

Sometimes, as difficult as it may be, you just have to love them where they are. You can help them stay healthy and give them a safe place of trust. You can be a solid foundation for them. Don't tell them they are doing the right thing. Don't lie to them. But don't hurt them either. They are already hurting and don't need another self esteem blow. What they need is a solid foundation to go to when they finally wake up. What if no one is available to them they can trust? When they do get the inclination and courage to ask for the help they NEED someone should have been there for them. Period, end of story. 
I spoke with someone recently that was telling me about their struggle. They were involved in prostitution and drug use. Now they are in prison and off of drugs and thinking "clearly". So, while they were pouring their heart out to me I asked them this question "As a peer, what can I do to help you be successful? What kind of support do you need?". 
Their answer here is important to listen to carefully. It is a clear indicator of their clarity and insight of themselves. In this case the person said "drugs, lots of drugs so I can do porn". That was the end game for them. Legal prostitution, or sex work. Which I will be honest, if done as a career option I have little to say about it negatively or positively. But if chosen because you believe you can't do anything else, then I have a problem with it. 
In this case the kind of help this person needs I cannot offer. But I won't cut ties and move on. No, I am going to be a trusted friend. Help them be safe, make sure that they know two things are for sure. 1) someone loves them for the person they are, right now this moment and 2) when they are ready to get help, they will ABSOLUTELY have a FRIEND they can go to. 
While it pains me to see them make bad choices for themselves, I can't stop them. What I can do is make sure that I'm doing my best to build them up. Give them the true confidence they'll need to seek betterment. 
Meet your community where they are at. Help isn't given from the comfortability of a church pew or in the form of a carefully written check to a non profit (though they need that as well). No, what's needed is you, your commitment to love. Everything else is secondary. You won't regret it...

With Love
Jeff Utnage 
Feel free to leave comments or share. You can contact me at:
Jeff Utnage 823469
H4-B-130-U
Stafford Creek Correction Center
191 Constantine Way
Aberdeen, WA 98520

or email using jpay.com, that's the only DOC approved email system for inmates.

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