I had a whole post planned about feelings of guilt as an advocate and feeling like I failed a client. But, it turns out, my feelings were 100% unjustified.
In a past post I mentioned that there was a client that I worked with who, after she left, my supervisor contacted her to offer a few suggestions on how to talk to the police since a report was filed of her assault and she didn’t want to go through the court process. I had been carrying that around with me and feeling very stressed out, guilty, and anxious that the client would have seen that as a breech of confidentiality or betraying her trust, even though my supervisor explained that it is protocol for us to debrief with each other after each meeting. I hadn’t heard from this client or seen her since, despite her saying she was planning on coming back and using our counseling services. The fact that she hadn’t come back just added to my feelings. Then, on Tuesday I was scheduled to go to our county attorney’s office for a forensic interview (basically where they do a less invasive and less traumatizing questioning to get information in case this case goes to trial). I got there early and was sitting in the waiting room/lobby when that client walked in with the case detective. (Sidenote: last time I had talked with the client, her case detective was the problematic officer who is inappropriate with the survivors, but this detective she is working with now is the head of the sex-crimes unit and is one of the best detectives available to us) She immediately lit up when she saw me and said ‘Hi’ and introduced me to the detective (even though we already knew each other). When the detective went to speak with the attorney and interviewer, she and I had a chance to talk and touch base about where she was at. Last we talked, she didn’t feel ready to go through this process so I was surprised to see her there. But, it sounds like she was able to process it a little with her family and come to a point where she could see how it could help her long-term. She said to me that “If I had known you were going to be here today I wouldn’t have been so scared or nervous”. That statement alone made me feel 100% better and cancelled all my feelings of guilt and worry that she thought I betrayed her. So, that was one really big positive for the week.
However, earlier this week a client who was working with my supervisor attempted suicide and came incredibly close. She came in with friends to talk about how the school is making her be psychologically assessed to determine if she can stay in school. I am the front-line of direct service so I was the one asked to talk to them. As soon as I had heard what happened (earlier in the day) I was overwhelmed and noticed that it was affecting me so I was really nervous and anxious to do this meeting. Luckily, I was able to bring in a more experienced co-worker and have her talk to the survivor and her friends as I wasn’t comfortable.
It has been an interesting week. I am going to a concert tonight for some self-care and I am immensely excited about it, it is very much needed.