Social Work Topics Involving Difficult Clients
Social work topics including how to make progress with difficult clients. Learn how to handle the unpredictable client with frequent, prolonged outbursts.
Working with Difficult Clients
I have an unpredictable client with frequent, prolonged outbursts. What are some methods I might consider trying to diffuse the outbursts?
Depending on the nature and severity of the outbursts, there are a number of approaches a clinician can take when dealing with these social work topics. Always have an ear for assessing for safety – any self-harm indicated, any suicidal or homicidal ideation/threats. Validating the client’s feelings are crucial, even if the behavior is inappropriate. Helping a client recognize that their feelings are valid without the need for outbursts, and finding new ways to effectively express themselves while managing their behavior to reduce negative social impacts or shutting down communication. Emphasizing coping skills for grounding, self-soothing, positive self-talk, and distinguishing between non-assertive, assertive, and aggressive behavior is often helpful.
Social Work Topics and Techniques to Consider:
- Positive Statements (positive self-talk)
- T.H.I.N.K. (mindful prompting)
- Communication Basics (distinguishing behavior types)
Answer provided by contributing expert, Brandon Haydon, LCSW:
Brandon Haydon, LCSW is an expert contributor to MSWcareers.com and currently works at the LifeWorks Psychotherapy Center in Chicago. Lifeworks is an explicitly inclusive practice welcoming clients of all ages, ethnicities, races, spiritual practices and religious traditions, genders and sexualities.