This paper will focus on constructing a strategy to engage and build rapport with a particular client on the provided vignette. The task is to navigate through obstacles that may arise that are unique to his characteristics including lack of information and limited research. To overcome these barriers of building rapport, the clinician must identify the client’s strengths and struggles as well as research scholarly literature on the client’s characteristics that are significantly different than the clinician’s to engage with and benefit the client’s session. Major Obstacles
The major obstacles engaging with this particular client is the apparent lack of research on approaching a gay client with cultural competency, especially individuals who are intersected with other minority groups, in this case being Jewish as well as an older adult. According to Eubank-Carter, Curckell, and Goldfried (2005), as of 2003, only 54% of LGB-related articles have been based on empirical research and even less research addressing LGB people of color at a mere 12%. The lack of research on the client’s identity as a gay male poses as an obstacle as the clinician is a straight female, forming a barrier into building rapport on the basis of showing empathy and being relatable. According to Hepworth, Rooney, Rooney, Strom-Gottfried, and Larsen (2013), building rapport with a client enables clients to gain trust in the helpful intent and goodwill of the social worker…” and further emphasizes, “cultural factors and language differences compound potential barriers to rapport even further (pg. 47).
The multiple cultural differences between the clinician and client acts as a barrier to building rapport as well as connecting the client with connection to resources to fulfill his request. Adding to the lack of research on the client’s sexual orientation, he also identifies as a Jewish American, which may be a sensitive topic in building rapport, because it is unknown if he identifies ethnically, religiously, both or none. According to Faulkner &Hecht (2010), for Jewish-American LGBTQ individuals, a significant issue that has been identified relates to the disclosure of their intersectional identity being a “twin threats of negative attitudes toward LGBTQ individuals and anti-Semitism” in which negative stigma towards LGBTQ identity was reinforced in Judaism, leaving those identifying as gay to conceal their sexual orientation and emphasizing their Jewish identity to avoid threats (Introduction section, pg. 830). This poses the delicate question of where the client has a support system, as upon first impression, it will appear blurred.
Finally regarding the supervisor’s concern of the client being in an Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) relationship with his partner, the lack of research on same-sex couples, specifically males, issues that may become an obstacle include the clinician subconsciously viewing the issue through a heterocentric lens. Not only is research lacking on LGBTQ in general, especially with IPV, there is lack of training on how to approach cliental for clinicians who were brought up in a heterocentric majority society. This is not surprising as out of a study of 108 clinical and counseling graduate students, the majority stated they felt unprepared to work with LGBTQ clients (Eubank-Carter et al 2005, pg. 2) (check citation). Although resources are available for LGBTQ clients to be self sufficient, because of these issues mentioned above, they are limited. Countertransference
With this client, I struggled with countertransference in terms of past experience and projective identification. This is not my first encounter with an older, gay client applying for low-income housing and the past client sadly faced discrimination by those running and living in the facilities. I am also aware although 22 states have passed laws prohibiting discrimination against sexual orientation in private or public housing, those who hold authority in these areas can refuse services to LGBTQ clients without legal reasoning (Hillman 2014, pg. 272). The past client faced this situation and this knowledge could affect my ability to not give an attitude that Joseph will automatically face the same result, thus affecting my ability to develop a proper relationship as clinician and client. Although this is a secondary concern to suspicion of IPV that takes priority, it is still relevant as it maybe revisited later, thus creating another obstacle to building rapport. Scholarly Literature
Eubanks-Carter, Burckell & Goldfried’s article (2005) worked as a general guidebook for the clinician. It emphasized, “Our LGB clients are not only gay, lesbian and bisexual men and women; they are members of families, professions, and communities. Our goal is to affirm not only their sexual orientation, but their entire identity” (Eubanks-Carter et al, 2005, pg. 9). This was a reminder to learn to be culturally competent towards the client for more than just his sexual orientation, but as a whole with his other intersectional identities.
Hillmans’ article (2014) covered the perspective of working with the client through the lens that he is gay and an older adult in his 70s. One important concept is point out that he grew up in an era where homosexuality in American was highly discriminated. According to Hillman (2014), the 1950s were a time when President Eisenhower issued 1953’s Executive Order #10450 ordering “homosexuals to be fired from government jobs” and McCarthy in 1954 included homosexuals in the group of “subversive elements”, (Historical and Cohort Effects, pg. 270). The client may still have negative feelings regarding homophobia from the past, thus it is imperative for the clinician to remain vigilant of her attitude and countertransference.
Seelau & Seelau’s article (2005) gave insight as to why the client, if involved in an IPV relationship, maybe reluctant to report. According to research, “police are reportedly less likely to intervene in domestic violence cases that involve gay or lesbian couples, perhaps due to sexual prejudice (i.e., homophobia) or gender role-stereotypes that women cannot be abusers and men cannot be abused (Seelau et al, 2005, pg. 364). It is important for the clinician to keep note of this fact as the client may have distrust for law enforcement, thus keeping the abuse a secret.