Among the memories from my graduate course studying social work is the seminar where we discussed the need to support specially clients who had been disadvantaged earlier in life in order to meet their Human Rights. 30 years later, I found myself in a situation where I had to defend myself against a Psych. Consultant when I felt that his statement had to be disclosed as a safeguarding matter (concerning a mental health patient), He had said: "I have known the family for 20 years and that (sexual abuse of the person by her father) has long been a suspicion. At one point (she) threw herself down a flight of stairs. This was seen by some as due to the father kissing her more in a boyfriend-girlfriend kind of manner. The allegation was put to him but denied. And Social Services did not take it any further." He threatened me with a management response if I did disclose this. It followed 3 days later. Fast forward 5 years, and this June a Judge said he "preferred the evidence given by the Defendant (the NHS Trust, in my claim for damages after the management response).
Some readers may wonder how my background as a theologian goes with my passion for person-centred social work.
I started working as a social worker in my early fifties, with adults with long-term needs and mental health issues. And I don't think I had come to love the work so passionately, had it not been for the background insights in the potential for clients to help themselves.
I started studying theology independently after a powerful liberating spiritual experience during a feminist psychodrama workshop. It was liberating, and gave me a lifelong inner imperative to understand it and respond to it ever deeper.
Because of its context, I felt drawn to study philosophy of religion.During those studies, among other inspiring minds, I came across Bernard Lonergan, a 20th century philosopher and Jesuit,
who like his contemporary Karl Rahner, made it his life's work to return religious concepts into existential categories - terms
that describe what we all deal with during life and do so more effectively if we understand what it is we are doing.
So Lonergan developed what he named 'transcendental precepts:
Be Attentive, Be Intelligent, Be Reasonable, Be Responsible.
From workshops and conferences I attended with the Hearing Voices Network since 2009, I learned how people who hear voices
can begin to recover when they attend to their experiences and take them serious but not literally. Or, as Dr. Eleaonor Longden put it:
"It should be asked what happened to you, not: what's wrong with you?" And there is already the element of being intelligent,
that is aiming to understand. And when unpleasant symptoms persist, another voice hearer comes in (contributor to Intervoice fb page; I
can't remember his name - if you read this: Thak you!), saying "I learned as long as I don't add my imagination, I am alright."
And that is then also being responsible - for one's own wellbeing.
Of course, we need also to talk about social circumstances that harmed us, that caused the original trauma and, in many cases, added to
by so-called psychiatric care, in the case of mental health patients.
I find, I never come to the end of attending, understanding, reasoning and responding responsibly.