It’s hard to believe I’ve been at this job for almost two years now. I’ve worked that long (and longer) elsewhere before, but this is the first job I ever had providing long-term support to clients. Most of my caseload now has been with me for the entire time I’ve been here.
In the last two months especially, I’ve started to notice things in my working relationship with my clients which I think are the result of being able to have this on-going support. Clients sharing personal information because they finally feel comfortable. New insights being gained through reflecting together on the past two years of their life. For me, know what times of year are hard for a particular person, and anticipating triggering events. It’s kind of cool, and weird.
Not having done this before, I’m always learning as I go how to balance the intensity of my professional relationship with clients and my personal boundaries. “Relationship” doesn’t even seem like the right word. I’m more keenly aware as I work with individuals longer that the whole thing is so one sided. I’m uncomfortable with the unbalanced power dynamic, and yet it’s so necessary. I admit, I resent my clients sometimes for how much energy it takes to support them. But I know it takes a lot of their energy too to do the hard emotional work I put them up to.
In a few months the intake part of my job will end, and I’ll be back to full-time housing worker. I’m curious/anxious to start fresh with several new clients all at once. In that case, it’s a bit of a comfort knowing I’ll still have my old stand-bys to give me some (unconventional) predictability and a feeling of (sometimes) stable progress. Assuming I’m still here for them.