Recently I was asked some brilliant questions by an occupational therapy student.
- Where would you as a clinician draw the line when sharing personal experiences with consumers?
- How would you balance being honest, open and building a relationship with the client with maintaining professional boundaries and professionalism?
My Strategies for Sharing Parts of Your Story with Consumers
This is a brilliant question and one I have been thinking about in answering.
Which is great for my practice too!
There are a few things to consider.
First the organisation
- Do they value the lived experience?
- Do they have consumers come into speak regularly
- What is the team’s attitude to this?
- Did they hire you knowing you had a lived experience? What does the position description say? Organisations might write they value cultural and lived experiences.
- Put a feeler out there with your team – without disclosing yourself. You could even mention my teacher taught from the lived experience. How does that sound?
- How does my sharing make you feel? What resonated with you.
- Think about the teachers you connect with most. What is it about that relationship that you feel is different from others.
- We all have different therapeutic approaches. Be authentic yet comfortable.
Suggest making a list
- What is it you feel that you can share and what do you think is too much.
- How do you know the client will be receptive to sharing?
- Where are they on their journey.
- For example if someone shared with me they had BPD when I was first diagnosed with depression I don’t think I would have been receptive because I couldn’t accept I had depression. However, I have heard the complete opposite from others. Hearing that someone else has the same experience as you can be validating.
- Sometimes sharing is also non-verbal. eg. how you dress, how you speak, your values. An obvious example is when do I choose to wear my self-harm scars versus not too?
- Do you feel safe? I wouldn’t share anything like your residence.
- Trial and error. Try sharing with someone something small. How did the experience go?
- It really comes down to trial and error.
- Being at volunteer agency would be a good place to trial this and see what your experience is like.
These are just some of my strategies. Please add your strategies in the comments below. This can be a very lonely space.