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Question
Posted by: Lin | 2008/07/13

Being used

I don't know if you remember, but I'm a counselling student. Busy with my last year (part time).
I've done various courses through FAMSA and I'm voluntering at Childline. I've also done courses through the Australian Institute for Counselling.
The problem is, all of a sudden my family has started using me. My brother is going through a divorce and I have to handle it. I've told them that: 1. I'm not a qualified counsellor yet and 2. I prefer not to get involved. I even gave them all the telephone numbers that they'll need. I shy away from "counselling" them.
Even very extended members of my family calls me to talk about relationship breakdowns, ect.
My aunt suffers from depression and I get called all hours of the day to assist her. I've told them that I'll listen (as a friend) and I'll help them by giving them professional's telephone numbers, but they keep on pushing my buttons.
I don't mind helping as a family member, but I feel that I'm not qualified yet to deal with their problems professionally.
I feel as if my family only look at me as a counsellor, someone they can use, in stead of a normal member of the family.
I really feel used. I don't have a family anymore - it feels as if I only have "clients".
It doesnt matter how assertive I am, they just call the next time a problem arrises - no matter how small.
I want to have a family that listen to me as a person and are there for me - not just see what advise I can give them.
How do I deal with this?
Thank You for your time.
Lin

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Our expert says:
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Mayeb it's understandable that they feel able to use your services, but there's also the important issue that it's hard to be effective and to remain ethical and neutral when you are PART of the family system you are expected to advise. So empghasize the ethical aspects of the situation, too, not merely the formal qualifications ( or they'll jus save up all their issues until youN ARE fully qualified ) --- and remind them that you are not supposed to intervene in the family problems any more than a surgeo ought to operate on her husband.
Now you'll understand why I found it useful at parties to imply that I was an accountant ? Because people tend not to attent social gatherings carrying their spreadsheets, whereas everyone takes their gripes to a party.
How would they respond if, before you listened to their latest complaint, you asked THEM for advice on any of your concerns ?

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