Thursday, April 02, 2009


day in the morning! Get to work today and one of my first patients is one of those child molesters I counseled last week. Yep, that's my job. I was working with him on forgiving himself. That.was.hard. (borrowing cjh's style)

I have to provide unconditional positive regard. Remember Rogers? I can't pick and choose which inmates I want to help. So that includes a lot of people that I would never, ever, ever, want to help if it were not my job.

Does helping a child rapist forgive himself lead to him raping more or less when he is finally released?

What about the killer who killed his wife and father-in-law in a sudden fight. Ugly death. He regrets killing the guy because he would like to be able to talk to him. No remorse at all over the wife. Okey-dokey.

A colleague and I had a brief discussion about this question today: Can empathy be taught to adults?

Friday, March 27, 2009


I was talking to my 6-yr-old the other day, telling him a story about lunch at work. I don't usually relate too many prison stories to the kids so I had to explain a bit more about where I work. He asked questions about prison. "Oh, so that's where they keep the bad people." Yeah, basically. Or the bad people who happen to get caught. Or those of us who do bad things and are labeled bad and/or get caught. But I digress here (I didn't with him).

And he asked me why? Why do you work there? I said it is because even people who do bad things, need people like me to help them feel better. And then he asked, "well, if they're bad, why do you want to help them feel better? Mean people are just mean."

I know, I know. If I hadn't already been questioning some aspects of my job, his questions wouldn't have meant anything to me then or now.

Do people who do bad things, have always done bad things, and will probably always do bad things, deserve to feel good about themselves?

And since the Axis II folks are quite likely to continue the same life despite any therapeutic confrontation, are we wasting our time?

These are questions I ask not because I am not liking my job or have any plans to change. Just things I think about and have to pass through. Sometimes, just to prove that I can.

public speaking

A few months ago, I volunteered to do be a presenter at the continuing education for the district monthly meeting. This wasn't my first time and everything went very well my first, so I should have expected things to go well today. Except that I wasn't very interested in the material. And hadn't prepared any notes or handouts. It's ethics. Gotta have it. Don't have to love it. You know?

But then why should I be surprised when I get so many people tell me what a great job I did? The district manager said I'm such a natural! The attendees clap for me. For what? Anyway, I got to thinking about it on the way home. And remembered the old adage that most people list their greatest fear as that of public speaking (second to death, remember?). And I realized, in a duh! moment, that to most people, anyone who has guts enough to get up and speak in front of a crowd, is GREAT! And the fact that I appear so comfortable doing so must make me somewhat famous for it. Big fish in small ponds.

I thought more about this. I could tell everyone that the reason I LOOK so comfortable is that I AM! Gosh, how many years of public speaking do I have under my belt??? Then I thought, if I don't say anything, I may be getting more brownie points. Discretion is the better part of valor.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

hey there!

Alright, it's been more than 6 months since I last posted. But in that time, I've had numerous appointments and court dates related to my little boy. He has more therapists than I can keep track of - speech, occupational therapy, counseling therapist, nutritional therapist - you get the idea. Plus I've moved about an hour away from where I was before. Love the area. Feels like I'm living in Mayberry but with all the conveniences of the 21st century! Nice people. I was working alone at my prison for about 6 months since my last case manager transferred (I forgive you, LC!) but finally got a new person who started 2 weeks ago. I'm happy as a clam. Why are clams happy? Does anyone know?

The 6-yr-old grandson has been living with me since January and will until school is out. Lemme tell ya, it's scary when you realize you're outnumbered!

I hope to start posting again at least semi-regularly. So many good stories I don't get to share here!

For instance, the other day, I had two murderers and a serial rapist in my office. All within 1 hour. One of the murderers was describing how he really doesn't like it when cellies look at him in the wrong way. He thinks they may be getting the idea to rape him. Just to be on the safe side, he strangles them to death. Two down so far. And they keep denying his request for a single cell. Takes everything I have not to find that cellie and tell him to do anything to get a transfer!

One of my delusional patients (I've had so many lately) is convinced that big brother is watching him through hidden cameras and controlling him through electrodes and satellites that go through his eyes and into his brain. When asked if he hears voices, he says, "no but of course I hear the ones that are PUT into my brain by all of you." He finally agreed to take meds but only because he thinks that will make big brother happy enough to leave him alone for a while. Not responsive yet but I'm still hoping.

Another delusional patient (I had to ship to inpatient) is convinced that everyone - security, me, medical staff - is trying to keep him from making his court date in April. He's suing all of us and he's convinced he'll get to go to court next month and have all of us pay for mistreating him. He has a typewriter in his cell and writes grievances and legal pleas every day all day. When he stopped eating because he thought we were poisoning him, I had to ship him. Now, of course, he thinks I shipped him so he couldn't make that court date.

What fun! Seriously though. My colleagues and I talk about this stuff and wonder how we could ever go back to work in the private sector. How boring would that be? You're here because your marriage isn't doing so well? Have you killed anyone? Raped? Hear voices? Believe the TV talks to you? If not, get outta here!

I'm very grateful to have my job. Particularly when we lost so many of our colleagues in Galveston to lay offs. I like what I do. I work with great people (not counting the inmates). I'm never bored. And I'm working toward my LPC. I'm blessed.