Lessons from My Most Embarrassing Moments with Clients

Every social worker has *that* moment. Where you do or say something that makes your face flush, your heart beat faster. You groan and try to decide what to do next.

Some of us have lots of them. LOL

Social workers spend so much time with our clients - face-to-face or online. Let's face it, facepalm moments are just a part of our work!

Here are my top two most embarrassing moments with my clients! Share yours in the comments!

My first embarrassing moment happened in 2009 or 2010. 

I was working in a residential treatment center for adolescent boys. We took clients to their homes for family therapy sessions. Upon returning to campus with a client, I slammed my finger in a metal, magnetic gate in the fence around our facility.

It hurt. I swore.

My client was shocked into silence. In the end, I was able to laugh, and once he saw me laughing, he relaxed. We talked about having compassion and empathy for others, even when one's instinct might be to laugh/taunt or ignore them.

Lesson Learned: It is alright to be a human being in front of or around our clients. The last thing I want is to create a persona of the all-knowing, perfect therapist. No thanks. I fall, I swear, I'm a human in all the same ways as my clients and I'm okay sharing some of that with them.

Funny aside: I found out later that my client talked about the incident and my swearing in the dorm later and bragged about how "cool" I was because I swore.

My second embarrassing moment happened in 2014 or 2015.

I was leading a group for an outpatient therapy clinic. On this particular day, I was sitting in a rolling office chair surrounded by 12 teen male clients. At one point I stood up, moved around and then came back to sit down. I didn't sit squarely on the seat and it shot out from underneath me. I landed on my rear on the floor and the chair flipped onto its side.

The boys in my group were stunned.

So shocked they all made absolutely no sound at all. (Not normal in a group of teen boys, let me tell you!) I burst out laughing and while I righted myself, one of the boys righted my chair. Social skills were a large part of the content for this group, so we had a chance to talk about how to respond if oneself falls in front of others. We also talked about how they wish they had responded, rather than silence, to my fall.

Lesson Learned: Everything and I mean EVERYTHING is grist for the therapy mill. Any situation can be used in a therapeutic discussion with a little creativity and practice figuring it out while panicking.

There you have it! These aren't my only embarrassing moments, but they are my "finest" embarrassing moments.

I promise that you'll survive embarrassments, just like I did. Eventually, you'll look back on them and laugh out loud at the situation. 

Leave your embarrassing moment in the comments to show that it happens to us all!





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