It’s not just the title of a great song by “Three Dog Night” but a significant contemplation for those seeking to practice in smaller, more tight-knit communities. While pain is pain-and modalities, ethics, and empathy remain the same-there may be some noticeable differences to healing practice out where there are fewer cars on the road but more paths through the woods.
- Expect to see the people you work with in the places you never thought you would. Whether it is the local store, watering hole, fish fry or fishing hole, never say never. In smaller towns, there are often fewer places to go and this often equates to more people at any given spot. Be aware of this but don’t let it change who you are.
- See Number 1. Because of this, the feeling of confidentiality and privacy may be more important than ever. Folks who live in rural communities are very aware that most people know everyone and that includes what is going on in their lives. Larger, more populated areas may not be as close or personal but this has the benefit of an enhanced feeling of privacy. Remind your clients that what is said (within your code of ethics) remains between you and themselves and reassure them that just because they see you talking to the shared bartender in town doesn’t mean that wall of privacy and safety will be breached.
- And if you happen to be at a place where you find yourself in the company of your client…this is pretty easy. All ethical and other considerations remain the same should this occur in New York City or Mayberry.
- Rural areas may have unique circumstances to their issues. Higher or lower poverty levels, family issues, social expectations, and an acceptance of mental health treatment and psychotherapy will differ from community to community. Going in open minded will never guide you wrong.
- There are things that will always be a constant in a community, large or small. Pain, fear, sorrow, anger-hope, empathy, compassion, peace…emotions speak the same internal language in all of us and it is a language that can be spoken to one another with complete fluency.
- Finally, be prepared for an ultimately rewarding experience…as long as you make it so.