I have had it happen where I meet with a client once or twice, and then the client has taken my limited suggestions many steps further and created a wonderful system to make his or her life better. The client insists that I have done a fabulous job, but I feel like a fraud because it was really the client that did it all. So what really happened?
One of the most common themes of mental health recovery stories is a relationship with another person who genuinely cared. It does not seem to matter if it is a friend, a family member, or a service provider. It is another person who encourages the next small steps, is someone to be accountable to, and who ultimately carries the torch of hope when we are unable to carry it ourselves.
I know that I am much more motivated to work on things for other people. If I tell people that I will do something, I do it. If I just tell myself I will do it, I often do not get around to it because other things become more of a priority. Other people give us the motivation to get out of bed, take a shower, and clean our houses.
As service providers, we cannot be this person if we are overly concerned with keeping professional distance, or are distracted by what is happening in the rest of our lives. Clients know whether we are genuine or not. They know when our mind wanders to what we have to do later in the day.
I really believe that what makes me effective as an occupational therapist is the fact that I genuinely care and give my full attention to my clients. I have known other service providers who have a lot better skills in terms of knowing exactly what to say at the right time, or who have perfected techniques that I have not. Yet lacking the perfect words to say has never been an issue - my clients know I am genuinely there with them, cheering them on, and this seems to be what is most important.