Amy’s Life in Brief

July 29, 2008, 2:34 am
Filed under: boundaries, job, MSW, social work | Tags: ,

So, I worked today and I’m sitting here wondering if I made a mistake in not asking a question. Part of my job entails meeting with patients from the health system’s outpatient clinics (like the physician’s offices, diabetes education clinic, wound care clinic, anticoagulation clinic, ambulatory infusion among others). As an outpatient social worker I’m supposed to provide brief therapy, help locating resources and other problem solving assistance. So, I was meeting with a woman who has no insurance and has a couple of serious and chronic medical conditions. I was helping her complete the forms for our health system’s financial and prescription assistance programs. We were discussing her condition and she mentioned she wasn’t taking birth control because of the possibility that doing so would aggravate one of her medical problems.

Now, I’m wondering if I should have asked her what exactly she was doing for birth control. Certainly given her financial situation, having a baby would not be the past course of action. And I can’t even imagine how complicated her pregnancy would be given her medical situation. I’m wondering if I missed an opportunity at education (I did safe sex education in a former job) or if it was best that I didn’t delve into that subject since the client didn’t seem to be too concerned. I could always call her and follow up, but don’t want her to be offended. Hmmmm…what’s the right way to approach it???


3 Comments so far
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I’d leave it at this point. Presumably she’s aware of condoms and knows where to procure them. Your primary job (I’m assuming) is to hook her up with services for her illness and you did that.

Comment by Reas

I agree with Reas. In your brief sessions with clients, I don’t think it’s fair to expect you to try to prevent every possible risk. Unless she is cognitively impaired or has been extremely sheltered, she should have been exposed to basic sex ed by now. And even if it appears she would not have the capacity to parent a child, it is ultimately her call. That is to say, don’t beat yourself up. You have to draw the line somewhere.

Comment by bluejeansocialwork

If you absolutely feel the need to touch base on that topic, you could contact her and mention that you were thinking about her concerns about taking birth control and her current medical condition and you were wondering if she was wanting some additional information or had questions regarding it. You could frame it that you feel like maybe you should have opened that door and didn’t. I understand that desire to touch base on something important or potentially important.
If it is important enough that you feel it deserves a f/u phone call, then I say do it. We are here to care about our clients. But on the other end, I don’t think it is a necessity to do so.

Comment by illusivejoy

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