One of the most frustrating things for anyone who is trying to help others is encountering a person you just can’t help. You can see this person is in trouble and they are really vocal about the difficulties they are having with life. You are willing to assist them to solve their problems and they make you wrong for every suggestion that you make.
They will complain about how others have treated them and they will complain about every suggestion you make to help them. They may use whiny victim voices or scornful insults to make their point, but the message is always the same. They feel you are trying to get them to change and that is not what they want. They want you to agree they are right and those who are upsetting them are wrong. Any suggestion that will help them resolve the problem is rejected if it involves them making any change whatsoever.
I have run into a few of these people recently and I failed to see the common thread that made them people I could not help because they were all very different personalities. One was an obvious victim who whined about the men in her life who had betrayed her. Another was a wealthy businessman who did not trust anyone and made that very clear to all and sundry. Another was a spiritualist who bragged about her connections to people in the field and about her spiritual prowess and was in very poor shape spiritually and healthwise.
The common thread that made them unable to receive help was the fact they were insisting they were completely right and were not responsible for what was going wrong in their lives.
They all asked for help, but once I started to help them, it became evident they wanted it on their terms.
None of them actually wanted personal change, they wanted me to solve their problem without requiring any changes in their actions or attitudes.
It has taken me some time to realize that there is a simple set of questions I should ask when I am presented with a prospective client. They will not scare off a person who sincerely wants help, but they will reveal when someone is asking me to confirm that the mean people who were bad to them were wrong and need to be punished. Effective counseling assists a person to make the changes that will create successful solutions to their problems. If a person is not willing to change, counseling will not be successful.
I think that questions along these lines should help me detect whether a client can be helped with counseling:
What problems are you faced with that you have not been able to resolve?
What changes in your life are you willing to consider to resolve these problems you are faced with?
Would you be willing to accept help in making these changes?
If there were other changes required to solve your problems, would you be willing to consider them?
Have you ever been able to make changes like this before?