The agency that I am working with is the Violence Intervention Program, Inc. (VIP). The agency is a non-profit organization that is community-based that focuses on the elimination of domestic violence. It was formed in 1984 as a form of East Harlem initiative. The organization provides services to Latina survivors including their children. It achieves this by providing an environment that is non-discriminatory, supportive, cultural friendly in addition to an environment that respects each person’s determination. My duty was to be an advocate in regards to the intermediation and self-empowerment counseling taking place in the individual and group situations involving individuals affected by violence. The work of the advocate also entails giving guidance on breaking the occurrence of violence, boosting the self-esteem of children, women, and youth that have experienced various forms of violence such that they are empowered to overcome economic abuse ("Opportunities For Otsego :: Violence Intervention Program", 2017).
Some of the essential functions include; carrying out needs assessment for every client for the purpose of identifying their needs, establishing a service plan in addition to re-evaluation, providing critical management services on cases in regards to the needs and goals of the participants in addition to coordinating sessions on case management, and providing individual support to families in addition to providing assistance to the needs that are unforeseen by the participants ("Violence Intervention Program", 2017). Other duties include providing information concerning participants and referrals, providing support to the educational needs of the participants such as advocating for tutoring services, working with clients of the same age such that a positive relationship is established, and the provision of crisis counseling. In other words, the advocate should be able to provide a holistic effort in meeting the needs of the clients (Husso et al., 2011).
Domestic Violence Victim
The individual that I worked with was a woman in her mid-twenties who was a victim of domestic violence. It is advisable to learn about the needs of a patient before the first meeting such that it becomes easier to interact with him or her. Therefore, prior to the session with my client, I received information that she had been married for five years by which the whole period was characterized by both domestic and emotional abuse. She had two children who were paternal twins and spent most of the time with their godparents. Her frequent abuse led to depression in addition to having several cases of suicidal attempts. She had even spent significant times in the hospital with the view that she had self-injured herself to protect her husband from being arrested. The victim was also an orphan and had no brothers and sisters to provide her support for her to get away from the abuse. She had several permanent scars that served as evidence of the abuse. Information from her previous assessment indicated that she was quite shy and adamant in opening up to strangers and hence advised to exercise patience. Furthermore, she had experienced several counseling sessions because of her suicidal tendencies. Since she was just a housewife, her husband’s arrest brought about more issues as she could no longer afford to maintain the house and the children on her own. This increased her level of depression resulting in a mental breakdown. She also lived in constant fear with the view that her husband might show up and attack her. The information made it easier to understand my patient in addition to the required support.
As stated earlier, my client was reported to have been quite shy and adamant in opening up to strangers. Therefore, I found it wise to establish a rapport between us such that it becomes easier for her to open up during our interaction. She arrived quite late for the session but I was patient as I sat waiting for her. She was a bit apprehensive in answering some of the questions and hence I tried to leave the whole session under her control. She kept staring at me and hence the first session was not fruitful as expected. She kept folding her fingers and looking out the window.
The second session began with me telling my patient about my experience with domestic violence. I explained to her how difficult it was for my aunt to speak out and get immediate help because of the torture that she was subjected to on a daily basis by her husband. The idea was to show her that I empathized with the situation so that she could trust me. She slowly began to open up about her situation and hence was a bit fruitful when compared to the first session.
The third session was a bit relaxed whereby she arrived in time for our session and offered a friendly gesture by asking about my day before the session began. She explained that she was relieved and felt at peace after sharing her experience with me. She further explained that the services provided by the organization were helpful as she now hoped for a better future after the session.
Situation Of Denial
In this case scenario, I found out that the client is in a situation of denial. She does not want to acknowledge that she needs help, this can all be seen with the way she fidgets around during the interview. In the first session, she seems detached in a sense that what she is going through is purely personal, and no one else should be involved in. In a way, she points out the picture of a situation that she understands best. She does not talk much because she does not realize the importance of therapy and the reason she is there in the first place.
The client was never confident on opening up about her situation because of the fear of being judged. She definitely decides to not talk about her situation on the perspective that I would judge her. I noted that once I was able to share the story of my aunt, she became more responsive and eager to hear the story of a different person. In a big way acceptance and the feeling of not being judged and openness in the environment allowed her to be responsive and share her story with me.
In essence, it is clear to note that my client focused on what I was saying on the second session. Active listening was seen in the second session; this was seen when I mentioned the story of my aunt. Here my client listened to my story attentively and went over to share her story by the time we were getting to the third session.
Addressing Client’s Ambivalence
I noted that my client was very resistant to talking about her situation. The reason for this is because she initially had the idea that addressing the issue will not resolve anything and also she cannot tell her story because she feels ashamed of the things she has been. Abuse can only be combated when the victim is informed that he/she is not the only one going through the situation. Giving an ear to a heart that yearns to speak out is the best medication to a victim of abuse. I dealt with this situation by sharing out the story of my aunt.
Differential Use Of Self
The differential use of self is highly important in giving a client a relational story where he/she will feel empathized with (Kenney, 2005). The use of a third person to bring out a story that also relates to the client. In a way, the use of differential self-helps to pass a story through putting a person per say into another individual’s situation for them to understand it best.
In this case scenario, the first thing is that abuse is a critical matter that is affecting many homes across the United States of America. The root of the problem arises from the socio-economic status of Americans, the people in the lower scale of the socio-economic status are the ones who are prone to abuse. Abuse comes in different forms, either financially, physical abuse, sexual abuse and even stalking. It is important to acknowledge that abuse is affecting more people than it is actually reported.
My sessions with my client helped me connect much better with her, at first it was difficult to get to her. The first session proved to be fruitless as she was very uncooperative, in most cases the clients always hesitates in expressing themselves. It is difficult to connect to clients when they don’t open up and own their problems. Being a witness of abuse in my family and sharing the story with my client developed an emotional connection with her. In this case, the client’s situation is saddening, she has been orphaned and ends up being married to an abusive husband and has her kids live up with the grandparents. She has permanent marks of abuse and other minority ones, once her husband is detained, she is not able to cater for the needs of the home. She suffers a mental breakdown due to her high level of dependency to her husband; this is the most petrifying moment of the situation.
The reason why I made an emotional connection with my client’s situation, is that a member of my family has been a victim of this situation. I would say that I enjoyed helping this client, this is because I would not want to see another person going through the same situation. The challenge is that mentally victims think that their situation is terminal. This alludes to a situation whereby the victims believe that their life cannot get any better and they cannot live without their abusive spouse. So it is critical that we delink such ideologies and backward thinking from the victim. The most critical part of the delinking process is through getting the client to open up about their situation and get to talk confidently about it. Victims should be able to acknowledge that they can have a life outside their abusive relationships.
Opportunities For Otsego :: Violence Intervention Program. (2017). Ofoinc.org. Retrieved 15 March 2017, from http://www.ofoinc.org/find-program/violence-intervention-program/
Violence Intervention Program. (2017). Center for Injury Research and Prevention. Retrieved 15 March 2017, from https://injury.research.chop.edu/violence-prevention-initiative/vpi-signature-programs/violence-intervention-program
Kenney, S. (2005). Domestic violence intervention program: Unconditional shelter?. Nonprofit Management And Leadership, 16(2), 221-243. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/nml.102
Violence Intervention Program | VIP Community Mental Health Center, Inc. (2017). Violenceinterventionprogram.org. Retrieved 15 March 2017, from http://www.violenceinterventionprogram.org/
Husso, M., Virkki, T., Notko, M., Holma, J., Laitila, A., & Mäntysaari, M. (2011). Making sense of domestic violence intervention in professional health care. Health & Social Care In The Community, 20(4), 347-355. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2524.2011.01034.x
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