Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Help-Seeking, Help-Rejecting

I enjoy my work as a clinician.  I work in the field of geriatrics and I am honoured and privileged to work with many people and their families in a helping role.  As a professional helper, I encounter all types of personalities.  I'd like to share a little bit of insight into working with someone who demonstrates "Help-Seeking, Help-Rejecting" behaviours. 

You may recognize this type of behaviour.  Someone comes to you, seeking help, but when offered suggestions, solutions, resources or help, the person replies with, "Nothing will help", or "I am still managing on my own", or "I've tried that already".  This kind of behaviour is very difficult to work with and it can be very frustrating. 

The person may complain on end about someone or something, and may seek out different people to "complain" to and ask for help.  The same issues may have been unresolved for many, many years.  Relationships become difficult with someone who is "Help Seeking, Help-Rejecting".  It seems at times all the person wants to do is get attention, by having someone listen to them.  Oftentimes an empathetic ear is all that is needed. 

If you come across this type of behaviour, offer your help and resources as you would with anyone else. Offer empathy and support.  You can try to reframe the help you are offering in a way that is more in line with what their overall goals are.  You can also try giving the person some feedback and let him or her know that you are trying to help them with a problem they came to you with and you noticed that any suggestion you made was not accepted or refused.  The tendency to get discouraged and frustrated is common.  It may feel like a waste of time.  Set limits for yourself on how far you will go with offering your help and time, and terminate the helping relationship in that particular area and move on.

"Help-Seeking, Help-Rejecting" behaviours are most likely a long-standing, "self-defeating" personality trait that will not change.  Do yourself a favour and realize that you can't fix everything.

For more information on this subject, go to this article:  A Useful Term:  The Help-Rejecting Complainer.

Have you ever come across this kind of situation?  What did you do and what did you find helpful?  Please comment below.

Respectfully yours,
Angela Gentile, BSW RSW