How can I serve the son of an alcoholic mother? (Neil’s Story Part 2)

As you may have read a few weeks ago I introduced you to Neil. If you missed part one then you can go and read it here. It was the same blog post that was used to inform you of the two questions I use in almost all of my work with young people – Who are you? And How can I serve you?

I think the second one is a killer question [for me that means it is a really good question] for a couple of reasons:

  1. Most of their life to date, young people would have been subjected to the alter question = they would be constantly asked and expected to serve the adult. So by up-ending the normal question it takes them by surprise. But I don’t use it just as a technique but rather as a genuine request to seek out what they are looking for.
  2. I hope I am not going too far with this gender stereotype but I reckon there is a male hormone or gene that drives the male of the species to want to ‘fix things’ that isn’t always there for the females. So if I am not careful, when someone [especially a girl] comes to talk things through I will leap in and try to fix it when all she may be wanting to do is to vent/spill/chat things through. So I find it best to ask, up front, how may I serve you.

Back to Neil. Over the first few visits to my office Neil came up with a short list of the ways that I could serve him. They were: Solution

  • Be available
  • Listen – and not judge his Mum as being a bad person
  • Help him prioritise his study load

Equally his list especially excluded

  • Talking to staff members about his home life
  • Phoning home and offering support
  • Setting up a family conference

By asking the question I could ensure that Neil’s needs were met instead of meeting my needs. (By the way I am referring to a 17 year old here and I’m not suggesting that you ignore any issues of mandatory reporting or a young person’s individual safety – just so as you know).

As always feel free to agree or disagree and comment below to further the discussion.