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Old 04-02-2019, 09:48 PM
 
Location: Planet Woof
3,139 posts, read 3,506,027 times
Reputation: 9889

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I would just like some feedback on this situation and I plan to keep this brief.

I am doing contract counseling work in a very small private practice recovery services program. On Fridays I see clients alone for individual counseling. It is just me in a small cottage office one client at a time. The business is owned by a woman who lives out of town.

On this particular Friday while I was in the building with a client, another client kept coming to the door in an agitated state tinged with anger and demanded to be seen. I told him that he had a later afternoon appointment, but he kept coming back and seemed high to me and his demeanor seemed aggressive. So I locked the door and at one point he shouted out "why did you lock the door?" but I was with other counseling clients and they stated they were afraid of him. At one point he hit on the window to a room where I sat with another client.

I thought of calling the police but called the owner first. She demanded to talk with him if he reappeared and he did. I wasn't comfortable dealing with him but I put him on the phone with her and she told him to leave the premises and that he was scaring me and my clients. She asked that I reschedule him on Monday with the male counselor who would also be alone with him. He was somewhat belligerent after this but did leave the area.

The next Thursday he was in the building for a medical appointment. When I approached him to talk with him he started in on me in a loud bullying tone saying he would not talk with me without a witness and then went into a lengthy recount about the previous week and how I attacked him and got him in trouble, etc. witnessed by staff and clients and later clients told me that they were afraid of him as was I. He has a history of incarceration for assault and has continued drug use despite enrolling in this program.

The owner was out of town but after that encounter I texted her what happened and I did a clinical note detailing both the Friday and Thursday episodes. I said i would not see him for group or individual work because I did not feel safe around him.

5 days have gone by and she never responded to me. No text or call or acknowledgement of my ordeal or anything. I am part time so I don't go back until tomorrow but I looked on the schedule and he is still on the schedule and also in one of my groups!

After all I went through and reported on this person re his potential for violence. I expected to at least get some support on this and yet there has been none.

I am afraid of where this could go and even the male counselor expresses fear about this situation. I have never worked in a mental health or medical setting where there is no regard for staff safety and where staff concerns are ignored.

I love my job but I may have to get out because of this . I will stay until I find something else but meanwhile I am no longer comfortable feeling this vulnerable. The owner obviously has no intention of listening to my concerns.

What would you do?
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Old 04-03-2019, 06:37 AM
 
4,076 posts, read 2,938,996 times
Reputation: 7042
So you have only texted her about this situation? There are a number of reasons why she potentially didn't receive this message (mailbox full, lost phone, didn't see it, etc). I'm not sure I understand what "clinical note" is either or how she would have read this. Have you tried following up with phone calls?

In the end, your safety should be your #1 concern. I would not go to this office alone if this guy was going to be there. If she fires you for this I would imagine you would have grounds for a lawsuit, just be sure and document everything in addition to even potentially recording your conversation with the owner.
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Old 04-03-2019, 03:54 PM
Status: "Be yourself. What's the alternative?" (set 17 days ago)
 
8,681 posts, read 10,833,943 times
Reputation: 12728
A situation like this and 5 days have gone by and no response from the owner? I personally wouldn't be comfortable w/ that. You're counseling people who get agitated and can have escalating issues. You're not getting the support you need IMO.
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Old 04-03-2019, 04:56 PM
 
7,380 posts, read 2,924,693 times
Reputation: 12271
I took self defense courses, until I felt confident, kept my eye on the closest exit, and always had a pocket for my cell.
Either you want to do this work and can, or yeah, your're right, you may have to find something else.
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Old 04-03-2019, 06:15 PM
 
Location: Indianapolis, East Side
1,168 posts, read 577,450 times
Reputation: 2947
Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyDogToday View Post
The next Thursday he was in the building for a medical appointment. When I approached him to talk with him he started in on me in a loud bullying tone saying he would not talk with me without a witness and then went into a lengthy recount about the previous week and how I attacked him and got him in trouble, etc. witnessed by staff and clients and later clients told me that they were afraid of him as was I. He has a history of incarceration for assault and has continued drug use despite enrolling in this program.


What would you do?
So this person has a history of violence, doesn't respect boundaries, uses drugs and he's scaring everyone. And now he's blaming you for getting him into trouble.

There's no way I'd go back there.
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Old 04-03-2019, 06:42 PM
 
73 posts, read 14,691 times
Reputation: 333
This comes uncomfortably close to home for me. I am not going into details, but I will say that my experience has a very direct influence on my suggestions here. Here is what I would do in your situation.


1. Document, document, document. Don't send texts to the owner, send emails with read-receipts. If you have a phone conversation with the owner, follow it up immediately with an email recapping the conversation, with a read-receipt on the email. Write up notes of the details after every encounter. Make sure someone knows where you are at all times, especially if you are on the office premises.



Were there any police calls? Get copies of the police reports. Is there security at the building that has witnessed any of this? If so, try to get copies of their reports. Putting things into treatment notes is great - but absent an active law enforcement investigation, those are confidential. Cover yourself with documentation that is not protected by HIPAA. The whole point is to AVOID things reaching the point of an active law enforcement investigation.



2. Do you have the authority to cancel a group session on your own? If so, cancel the group session that includes the individual in question. Communicate in writing to group members without citing this one individual as a reason (although you could accurately say it had to be rescheduled due to a conflict). Communicate in writing with the business owner being very clear and explicit exactly why you chose to cancel the session.


If the owner responds appropriately to your valid concerns at this point, work with him or her to develop a safety plan that will allow you to serve clients without risking personal injury from this individual. If the owner does not respond in a reasonable manner, move on to:



3. Are you a 1099 contractor or an actual employee? If you are a contractor, start hustling up your next contract immediately, like yesterday.



If you are an employee, contact your state's unemployment insurance agency and ask them these two questions:
A) Do unemployment statutes in your state allow the payment of UI benefits in a situation where an employee quits with good cause due to the employer?
B) If the answer to that is yes, would your reasonable (and amply documented - see #1 above) concerns about safety constitute good reason to quit attributable to the employer?


If I was in your position (again with the caveat that I have personal direct experience that somewhat heightens both my awareness of risk and my response to it), I would resign as soon as possible, even if it meant a gap in income for a few weeks before the next job starts up. Hopefully you have some reserves and/or family to tide you over. But even if it's a tight squeeze, it would be better than some possible alternatives I could envision.



Good luck. And please be safe.
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Old 04-03-2019, 06:43 PM
 
Location: Dallas TX
15,024 posts, read 21,728,201 times
Reputation: 22196
Pick up the phone and talk to the owner. I would be hesitant to go back as well. Things this serious shouldn’t be done via text.
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Old 04-03-2019, 08:01 PM
 
Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
9,203 posts, read 8,287,258 times
Reputation: 19909
I agree you need to document and terminate your relationship with him and he needs to be banned from the building.
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Old 04-04-2019, 02:49 AM
 
58 posts, read 14,759 times
Reputation: 87
I would not be in the building alone seeing patients. I think the owner should minimally hire another person while the clients are being seen.
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Old 04-04-2019, 02:50 AM
 
58 posts, read 14,759 times
Reputation: 87
You cannot serve your clients effectively with worry about an unsafe work environment.
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