May 012014

After Recovery, Helping Others to Deal with Life Crisis

After recovery, you may have special expertise in dealing with life crisis. I am not saying that you must become a professional counselor. But in many ways, you do the best job of helping, formally or informally, when you have experienced something similar. You could possibly be helping a family member, a friend, or even a stranger. You should not be telling the person what to do in an authoritative way—unless he-she is at risk to harm self or others—but rather offering judicious suggestions, making it clear that they are only suggestions, it’s up to the individual to decide. Simple empathy goes a long way toward helping the person in crisis. I am not talking about stilted empathy, but real caring and a genuine effort to understand the interior of the other’s experience.

If you are struggling with your own issues, don’t get lost in helping others, tapping your own resources to the point where you are thrown off-center. Give what you can, emotionally, in terms of what you know, and time-wise, and then let it go. If you have been helpful, the person will return to you and if he/she has made significant gains, offer a sincere thanks.

If you do decide to go into a helping field, I would suggest an eclectic program that gives you a broad perspective on the field rather than trying to indoctrinate you into one approach. There are no panaceas, no easy answers, and no magic or perfect cure for the kind of problems that lead to homelessness. And there are many fads out there.

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