I often write about relationships between providers and people they serve. It is very easy to look at services and write about what is wrong and what needs fixing. However, I do think that there are more respectful and caring providers and agency personnel than not.
As a young adult, I was homeless. I had been in and out of hospitals and was discouraged about my chances of being successful in therapy. My moods were all over the place, and I was having intrusive memories. I was trying very hard to find housing. I showed up for appointments. I was so scared and angry at the possibility of being turned down that my intolerance for disappointment was reflected in my attitude. I was anxious and certain that no one wanted to help.
Then, I went to a Help Center in Cambridge. From the woman who answered the phones to the front desk personnel and counselors, they all talked to each other and to me with respect. I had to adjust my thinking, mood, and discouragement to better help myself.
I became motivated by this new experience with service providers. I realized I could get help. Over time, I applied and was accepted into a YWCA residence in Cambridge. I felt rescued. I was able to prepare my own meals. I had my own, albeit tiny, space with a lock on the door. I could rest--the kind of rest you get when you know you are safe. Finding housing and the experience of receiving help allowed me to trust enough to begin therapy for my trauma. Read Gloria's experience with therapies as a pathway to recovering from trauma.
Today, I remember how much my success in getting and using services was about my ability to tolerate my anxiety and to extend a modicum of trust. It was necessary to reach out and do my part to establish some rapport with the providers I was seeing.
Trusting relationships are built slowly, but begin with the first encounter. From the top down, demonstrated respect for all parties generates a culture that encourages hopefulness, safety, and optimism. I am sure that each reader can review their past experiences and remember situations where someone respectfully offered them a helping hand when they most needed it and how this changed their outlook.
I write this to remind all of us that our encounters with people matter. We can change attitudes by treating people with respect. With great appreciation, I send wishes of hope and thanks to all peers, peer-providers, professionals, and personnel in service settings.
Learn more about trauma-informed care by registering for t3's live, online course "Bringing Trauma-Informed Care to Everyday Practice."