Your knowledge of yourself is invaluable as you consider going back to work. Your reentry into the job market is a team effort and you are the major player on the team. Your support team (vocational counselor, friends, families, therapists) will need to know from you what fears and anxieties you have about going back to work. They need to know how you see yourself, who you now are.

It is easy to forget that learning doesn’t go in just one direction, from professional to client. Day to day, those in the helping professions can learn as much from their clients as the clients can learn from them. The strategies that some clients have worked out can be applied to other clients which saves the constant reinventing of the wheel. After a period of medical rehabilitation a person can come to expect the professionals to have all the answers and may rely on others to tell him what to do. Every person is an expert on his own situation, though, and each person has something to offer. This is primarily because every head injury is unique and everyone comes up with his own form of strategies.

Members of your support team need to remember that the uniqueness of each individual is paramount in his treatment. Adapting and adjusting strategies are all determined based on this uniqueness. Formulas don’t work. A person who appears to be incapable of learning everything when he receives the information verbally may astound others by how much he can understand and remember when he receives the information in written form. The reverse may be true of the next person you meet.

We all have to remain flexible and remember that we’re learning together; this situation is new to all of us. At the same time clients need to understand that family, friends and professionals don’t have all the answers but are willing to look for the answers. We may find the solution to any given problem in a book, from a colleague, from a client, from a family member or a friend. Both staff and clients need to be open to this; time and flexibility are key ingredients in any major life changes.

Throughout the process of working towards a job, self-esteem is most important. Both staff and client need to remember that if a particular strategy doesn’t work that doesn’t mean that anyone has failed, just that another option has to be found. We should all try to remember that we can’t always change the way things are but we can change the way we think about them.

Revised: Saturday, February 23, 2002 08:42 AM