Judging Based on a Client's Presenting Issue

I am a mental health provider. I went with a friend to an appointment at a methadone clinic. He had told me how poorly he was being treated. I couldn't believe that it was as bad as he was saying. I went mainly to offer support, but also to see whether it was really as bad as he was saying.

When we walked into his appointment, my friend introduced me to the provider assigned to his case. The first thing his provider said to me was "Why would a person like you want to be around a person like him?" I was stunned. There was no veneer at all. I told his provider that he was the funniest person I had ever met, and that he needed support because he was going through a difficult time. The provider scrunched up his face in apparent disgust, and then proceeded to ask the questions needed to be asked of him. My friend was then allowed to get his methadone for the day.

My friend had voluntarily signed up to go onto methadone to deal with his addiction to opiates. He wasn't court ordered into treatment. (not that being court ordered would be an excuse to treat him poorly). He had become tired of everything associated with his addiction. He warned me before this meeting to not to be too assertive with this provider because they had a reputation for retaliating against people. So I didn't.

That was 10 years ago. I will never forget how poorly he was treated. And I vowed that I would be mindful of this in my own work as a therapist.

— DK

Sign up for topical updates and invitations to participate with Dr. Zur