What took place in that ‘one to one’ work was rarely analysed , though it was in the early 2000’s in drug treatment services, and the results of this research were of great interest. This I will discuss in more detail in another place, but for now an important finding was that the researcher could identify only a small part of the client contact as delivering something that could be recognisable as a structured change intervention. Most of the time was spent on other often mundane or practical issues.
A number of things could be said about this. In particular, it seems to me to provide testimony to the power of clients to control their workers, to defend themselves. We are all familiar with this in ordinary life:
- the patient who visits their doctor and manipulates them to define their problem as something that can be treated by a drug
- the young person who persuades their parent that a few extra £s can make them happy
- the old person who hides their growing helplessness behind a false independence.
And the closer that a worker gets to the trouble that the client is fearful of revealing, the more fearful and controlling the client can become. This dynamic can easily threaten to undermine the whole working relationship. Surely everyone in a helping role has experienced an interview / encounter in which a client let them get close to their distress only to find the client runs away from further contact.