Not Every Client
is a Client
While I was in Parental School I joined the boy scouts, figuring they would treat you better and that you get away with stuff. We would have a meeting about twice a week and the scoutmaster would tell us all different stories. I didn't like it. I thought it was a lot of shit. I don't see what anybody got out of that. Maybe it was interesting for some kids but not for me.
--quoted in Anthony Sorrentino, "Organizing Against
Crime: Redeveloping the Neighborhood",
New York: Human Sciences Press, 1977, 127.
The above situation is familiar to nearly everyone. Someone who is ostensibly participating in a program, and reaping its benefits, is, in reality, simply going through the motions. Such persons are often thought to be clients receiving some service. But in reality they are resentful and perhaps hostile to helping efforts. Such persons are counted among those being served, and contribute heavily to the impression that helping services--social work, medicine, law, education--are seldom worthwhile.
This chapter is concerned with how help-seekers become clients. We begin by analyzing the myth that professionals have total authority over those who seek their help. We will show that help-seekers often limit that authority through refusal to acquiesce to the directives of the professional. This view allows