Counselling Dilemma: A Teenager at Risk of Suicide
Chantelle is 14 and in foster care. Chantelle was removed from her parents’ care at the age of seven and has since had several foster placements. Her last care arrangement ended, one month ago, when her foster family relocated interstate. Child protection workers have found a new foster placement for Chantelle and you have been asked to counsel Chantelle through the transition into her new care arrangement. As part of the counselling process, it is also expected that you will support the carers in their new role.
In your first session, Chantelle discloses that she dislikes her child safety case worker, doesn’t feel comfortable with her new foster arrangement and dreams of being reunited with her mother. She also discloses that she sometimes feels an almost uncontrollable urge to cut herself. She has aggressively cut her arms twice in the past two months and wears long sleeves to cover the wounds.
She has disclosed no intention or thoughts of suicide. You let Chantelle know that you are concerned about her self-harming and begin to discuss what the next steps might be. When you ask Chantelle to consider the possibility of letting someone else know about her self-harming, Chantelle begins to panic.
“There’s no way you can tell anyone about this. You’ll ruin everything. If people find out, I’ll know you told. I’ll run away and it’ll all be your fault.”
You are eager to continue working with Chantelle and believe she could benefit greatly from counselling. How would you manage this situation to maximise rapport and maintain your ethical and professional responsibilities? As the counsellor, how would you proceed?