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  • Reverend James Squire

“You are the only one I can tell! You can’t tell anyone else!”

Updated: Feb 11, 2021

When people come to me for counseling there are two statements at the outset that always lead to an important and profound exchange.

“You are the only one that I can tell. You can’t tell anyone else.”This Is a statement that people make to me when they are seeking help from a painful situation. There is instant relief when an individual is able to share their deepest pain. The mere sharing is a therapeutic moment. The person no longer feels alone. After hearing the problem stated, they will indicate, “You can’t tell anyone else” That is usually followed quickly after that moment of relief. I have used the same response for many years that is always agreeable to the individual. “You have trusted me to hear your dilemma so trust me to choose the way that I see fit that will help you. I would never contact anyone without telling you first.” Their response is, “Ok!”

People would often say that my middle name was “on a need to know basis” for I believe that the people who should know the need of the individual are people who could enhance the help that the individual needs to move forward, and no one else.

There are always two questions that require notification to others. Is the person a danger to themselves? Are they a danger to others? These two questions, while very important, can actually be detrimental to a person’s move forward to a better place. Often because of my inability to answer those two questions in the affirmative coupled with the age of the person over 18, I can’t get them the help that they really need. There is a vast area of psychological concerns that inhabit the land between the fear of one taking one’s life or taking the life of another.

Issues of confidentiality are tricky to get the most help needed to the psychological cry of another. Confidentiality is the bedrock of counseling.

The second statement that always brings me pause when a person seeks help from me is, “This is nothing but I thought I better tell somebody.” What they feel is an insignificant issue is frequently a large issue. They have downplayed it to deal with their challenging situation. This is often done to cope with the overwhelming nature of the concern. One of the important roles of a counselor is to help the person seeking help to see the reality of their challenge and also to gain the strength and reassurance to help overcome it.

Frequently people are overwhelmed when they see a situation as permanent and not temporary and something that they can manage. At other times they may feel overwhelmed because they are not taking the possible solution one step at a time.

If the Black Lives Matter Movement or the Pandemic were a person coming for help, they would be stating opposite statements: “Not just you but everyone needs to know about our plight. Hear me and get the news out to any and all. This is a big deal and we need your help! Everyone needs to know about racism and about this horrific illness. Some may not be transparent, but we will always seek the facts of those black lives killed or the facts of the Pandemic when a vaccine may be available.”

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