From Dr. Jane's Notebook

On Being a Consumer...

When clients come to see me, I give them an awful lot of credit for seeking advice and for the boldness it takes to do that. As a professional, I can safely say that it is easier to sit on the note-taking side of the room than to fill out forms about one's self. Whether it be for psychological, legal, financial, dental or medical assistance, it is no fun being a consumer.

It is also no fun being a child if that means to be in a one-down position; it is no fun being the outsider on a secret; or the out-of-favor member of a clan. We have a natural resistance that springs forth when we feel out of control or become on the verge of losing control over ourselves. It is an even more helpless feeling to be denied information or decision-making opportunities.

Whenever one needs to become a consumer of services, it means that the greater system in which the individual lives will be affected. For example, a new medical diet may change the eating style of a family; speech therapy may change the speaking style of a family; legal advice may influence our actions or words.

Each one of us is only a single part of a system in which we are intricately related to others; so any guidance provided by a professional although perhaps communicated to only "the patient" at the time, will spread through a system with its effects felt throughout.

Not long ago, an uncle of mine was admitted to a hospital for an extensive series of tests. While the truth was "being discovered", there was a definite need for some recognition of the shock wave moving throughout the rest of the family. As small parts of a greater web, woven together, a family system needs to be treated as such, especially if we are charged with the role of providing care amd support of each other.

Simply put, this requires accurate information (in contrast to the the "telephone game" where the information changes each time it is relayed) and addressing of the relevant parties. As family members, we also require support from each other to make changes and supportive encouragement when changes are accomplished. A pat on the back on a regular basis, whether given or received, is a most useful and highly valued learning experience.

ęCopyright 1995, Jane Rosen-Grandon, All Rights Reserved

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Last Updated October 25, 1998 by Gary M. Grandon, Ph.D.