How to help a frustrated client

Hi everyone! I am an undergrad student so I am not actively working with clients, but do you have any advice for helping someone who is frustrated and feels like giving up? What do you do in that sort of a situation to cool things down? Thank you for your time! 

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How to help a frustrated client — 1 Comment

  1. This is an excellent question, and a really deep question but so important to ask. Your question already shows that you have so much empathy going into this field and care deeply for people; wanting to help people to the to the utmost of your potential. First of all, welcome to the amazing field of speech-language pathology! I have personally found that this is not just a career- when I did my undergrad, I went into this field because I have a brother who stutters since he was six years old… and I thought I was still going to college to learn a “job” and have a “career” with which you go to work, clock in, do your “job” then clock out… I surely was wrong. This field, of speech pathology, is a life passion… it’s so rewarding because you get to be a part of someone’s journey every single time they come into your therapy room. You can’t put a salary, hourly wage, or time punch card to that, ever. So, I am so glad that you will be a part of this too.
    Now, to answer your question- as I am good at rambling, just ask my poor victims, I mean graduate students that I teach in my graduate stuttering course- ha! Advice for someone who is frustrated and feels like giving up. This is really serious and a deep question. I am assuming your definition of “feels like giving up” could potentially have end of life ramifications for the individual you are serving- this is very very deep and serious. Have I ever encountered this in the therapeutic setting? Yes. What did I do? I followed the protocol set forth by my employer. Here’s the thing: remember that in these moments we are speech-language pathologists with a scope of practice, but we are also serving a human being in front of us with a life well worth living. WE know that their life is well worth living, but the person sitting in front of us may not feel as such at all times- just like any other human being could feel. With that, DO NOT EVER practice outside of your scope of practice and follow the protocol per your employer as there should be policies and procedures with specific instructions set forth as to what to do if and when this situation ever happens…… I have had this happen while serving individuals with other entities….. and you must be very familiar with these policies and procedures and go into action when needed.It is not our job to determine if the “ready to give up” part is a legit threat to ones own life or not. We follow procedures. That’s the answer to that question. Counseling, when it comes to our scope of practice as speech-language pathologists at least here in America, according to the American-Speech Hearing Association, we may counsel when it comes to “swallowing disorders” and “communication disorders” and that’s it… anything beyond that is out of our scope of practice and requires a referral, if the individual wants a referral, is ready for one and opened to that- and that’s between them and their doctor. Now, to the “frustration” piece of your question- it’s so easy to become frustrated… at little things even. Just like it is easy for you or I to become frustrated, try to even fathom society not allowing you to say what you want to say or even listening to you all the time as a person who stutters goes through on a regular basis. Encouragement, active listening skills and allowing the person who stutters to finish what they are saying every time in the therapy room can help ease situational frustrations during therapy sessions. Just think of what you like when you are frustrated.. what are some of those things? Stuttering is such an individualized experience, so you can even ask the person you are doing therapy with: what helps you the most during times of frustration? how do you distract yourself? (you can apply this to communication situations/scenarios.. all sorts of stuff therapeutically.)
    And lastly (with my novel of a response as I try to teach you everything that I can with this) not every person who stutters because frustrated and wants to give up. This can happen yes, and has- as with other entities that we treat in our field.. but some people who stutter also have very positive experiences. I have heard some people who stutter describe their stuttering as their “friend”, something they “embrace” and the term “acceptance” regarding their stuttering experience. Some people who stutter say, “it’s ok to stutter” which is so beautiful and wonderful! Of course it is ok to stutter! We want society to know it’s ok to stutter, right? So while some may be frustrated, and at their wits end, others may not be- as a future clinician, embrace the individuality of the stuttering experience- and always recognize that you have a human being- your equal- sitting in front of you for therapy. 🙂 Be a world changer, be an advocate for people who stutter. You already are by being in this forum. Take care!

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