I recently left a counselling job as a with a small charity that supported Carers. A carer is someone who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without their support.
The nature of my work was to support those who were struggling to come to terms with situations that were often difficult and could feel hopeless to the person who lives, every day for someone else. In writing this piece, I wondered if I might talk about some of the things that make carers such a rewarding client group to work with, perhaps delve a little into how their struggles equip them with often-missed resilience. But I realised that both of these angles were not congruent to the overriding lesson I learned in my time working with carers, because they are both assumptive. Upon hearing their story for the first time I never failed to notice how different everyone was, how their experiences that varied so greatly affected them in infinitely different ways. It would be much neater to be able to make a few profound yet sweeping generalisations about these people but my experience teaches me that here are a group of people who simply cannot be generalised, that their experiences are as varied and unique than I could possibly imagine.
Thinking more broadly about all of the clients I see, my experience with carers serves as a reminder that as a therapist, generalising doesn’t help, and so much can be missed just by assumptions. So I do my best to meet each new client with an open mind, ready to hear their story in whichever way they want to tell it.