Chapter 19

Lucy also warned Mrs McGillicuddy that she should not think of Jane Marple as just a ‘patient’ who is in receipt of treatment. It is easy for the helper to think that they hold the answers, for the therapist to imagine that they are the experts who are dispensing their expertise to a less well informed person. This is a common problem, she said, and it leads to the helper feeling powerful and the helped person as weak and dependent – just the reverse of what we would be trying to achieve.

There are two things that happen in treatment that can feed into this tendency. First of all, the treatment worker can be faced with denial by the addict, with resistance and manipulations to avoid facing the truth about their condition. This can be frustrating to the worker and one way of overcoming the anger it can arouse is to say to oneself that the client ‘can’t help it’.

Secondly, many clients will happily slip into the role of ‘patient’ and flatter the helper by emphasising how they are keen to learn from the helper’s superior knowledge and expertise. Given such an apparently motivated client, it is easy for the worker to be drawn into this kind of relationship, only to find the ‘patient’ never changes, safe in the knowledge that failure to make progress will be because the expert is not good enough..

“You have to think of Miss Marple as a partner in the change process”, Lucy said.


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