What Would It Take?


What Would It Take?

     "What would it take to make you change?" The counselor asked.

     I liked the question. It was short, to the point. I had worked with several counselors and teachers over the years. Most, well those who cared and noticed that I had a problem with my blindness and needed to change my attitude and methods of functioning, would too often start with, "You should..." So when and if a plan for bringing about this needed change was developed, it too often ended up being a long list of “what they thought” would work. I mean, it was amazing how seldom or Never was I asked about what I felt, what I needed to know, what I wanted! So it always ended up as more their idea, their plan, not mine. Needless to say, the success of the plan was either a partial or total failure. Then of course guess who ended up in trouble for it? Me! I got the blame. And of course, it was I who felt the failure.

     But this counselor was different, because she had asked. Now she was waiting for my answer. She was waiting to listen to what I felt and needed. I will take some time to think about what I shall tell her. “Hmmm, what would it take?”

e-mail responses to newmanrl@cox.net

**1. “How nice to have input from a counselor I as a person who lost sight later on in life have never been ask. But would love it if a counselor would take the time to ask such a simple question. To allow a Blind person to take back the control and to be a part of the plan. WOW I
just had to forward this to my state counselor hope that I did not BREAK a RULE....Maybe this might give her a hint. Thanks.”

Wanda D. Burton (AERnet)

FROM ME: “By all means, forward this PROVOKER to whom ever you wish. A counselor would be a good choice.”

**2. “I have a response to this question. I never exactly went to counselors as such, but did some work on myself in other ways. I could tell you about them some other time. I think, however, that the point is that at some time I had to create some mental equipment for dealing with the demands of blindness. First, I had to acknowledge that I was the first one who had to change, and then see what happened, even just as an experiment. Next, I had to own that I had negative emotions and feelings and responses sometimes, such as anger, grief, frustration, even hopelessness sometimes, and that they were human emotions, and I was a human. Then I had to learn a way of expressing myself in situations, so that I didn't make other people feel inferior, or that they had intruded. Sometimes the situation would demand an expression of my pain, my anger, in terms that were not calculated to wound, but only to make my part in the situation (I.E. my feelings), clear. Also, I
had to acknowledge other people's point of view, and their worth, even if they didn't possess psychological or life-managing skills, and were clumsy or in other ways lacking in the ability to cope with me. And overall, I had to (and still have to)-have some sort of sense of my worth as a human being. Surely, blind or not, mistake-maker or not, I, or you,--we are salvable, there is hope for us all, and it's worth the effort to keep going in the world. One of the barriers to my doing all of this, (creating all of this survival equipment, I mean), came from conditioning. That's a big subject, but there is a lot of "lack-of-worth" stuff in there, and the old social belief in the lack of validity of an individual because of disability that has beset many of our societies, I'm afraid, takes a long time to die. But it is dying, or should I say, the positive perception of the worth of the disabled individual, has taken root, and in fact is blooming very well, now, in Western societies at least, as far as I can judge-at least in places where I meet people. I can't say that I always get it right, or that I always give myself enough time, while in a situation, to make the most even-minded response, but at least I now have these tools in place. There is hope.”

Mez White (Sydney, Australia)

FROM ME: “How many of the rest of you had to go your adjustment solo?”

**3. “From the prospective of someone who has been blind all my life, this question is a little difficult. I was very fortunate in that I grew up with a good attitude toward blindness, based mainly on parents who were always encouraging and willing to let me try. So, drawing from this background, I believe that encouragement from the counselor and assistance in helping the person to succeed in small areas, at first, will go a long way to changing a poor attitude toward blindness. Once the person realizes that they can be successful and live comfortably as a blind person, it will be much easier for them to take the initiative to reach for the goals they and the counselor set.”

Cindy Handel (Willow Street, Pennsylvania USA

**4. “I was born blind. You would think I would not only be use to it, but be good at it. Well, you know as well as I do that just because you are something, don’t mean you are good at it. So one of my questions back to the counselor would be “What do you see as my weaknesses?” I would take it from there and request more information so that I could choose the path I felt would work for me to take care of any problem the counselor saw in me. Also, if there were no major problems, then Katie bar the door, I would have that counselor helping me find out services and tools so that I could get to my goal. What else are they for!"

Jamey (Ohio, USA)

FROM ME: “Yes, ‘What else are they for?’ Truly, I’m hoping you all will make sure this question is one of many that will get thoroughly answered.”

**5. “after years of sickness, heart problems, then that final stroke/heart attack. That put me in a wheelchair, life was over, not worth living! people walked into my life telling me I would get used to the chair, just try it, it's not so bad they would say while walking away. Then a counselor from the BCPA came to see me she wheeled in told me to get into my chair and follow her as she had no time to baby me! She asked me if I had walked, danced, climbed my mountains, etc. Of course I had as I was 45.She said she had not, so I was lucky, born with spine-abiffida never knowing the things I had taken for granted. That's what changed my mind, now I live in my chair as though it was part of me like my legs that work by going round and round, saves on shoe leather too! GRIN”

Diane Dobson (Victoria, British Columbia Canada)

FROM ME: “’.…as she had no time to baby me!…’ How do you like that approach? Would this work with all folks? Which ones and which ones not and why?”

**6. “Remember the "light bulb" jokes?
Q: How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Only one, but the light bulb has to really want to change.

I'm happy that you asked, but I'm concerned about your use of the word "make."
It implies compulsion from outside myself, and I don't think that ever works. Just look at how effective Mahatma Gandhi was in passively resisting the British occupation forces in India. Despite great outside pressure, he did what he believed was right.

In my own way, I guess I'm a bit like that. Someone else's plan hasn't worked out for me. so maybe I need to make my own. Why don't we discuss how my life is going and how I'd like to make it better? Then I can set some realistic goals for myself and begin examining how I can get from how my life is now to how I'd like my life to be. I'd appreciate
your input because I know you may see alternatives that I don't yet see, but please remember that this needs to be my own plan for reaching the goals I have set for myself.”

Karen (Dana Point, California USA)

**7. “It's about choices and making decisions. Taking responsibility and having those who are in the "helping" professions give credence to the power of the individual. It isn't about them taking directions as much as finding their own way. It makes me cringe when I see a blind student who is totally insulated by an overprotective, over caring adult. In the instance of education, how can a child ever feel independent if a seeing adult or other child is doing
everything for them. This Provoker is so powerful. With just one sentence it made me take note on my listening skills. As a "sightling" who works with blind students, I like these reality checks. Nothing makes a person feel better than to accomplish something on their own. It is empowering to have choices and a voice in what you do with your life. Right on with this one Robert.”

Suzanne Lange (Chico, California USA)

**8. “This thought provoker triggers some response but what? I tend to wait to see what others will write but will here jump in !

Never having a counselor to help me in my blindness I can't really relate to the one in this story. Still I can feel the hope, maybe relief in what this counselor has offered. To be given a choice in one's life or lifestyle, to let one say where he/she needs help is a wonderful blessing! This allows the one suffering from vision loss to think and to find his/her real need! Being told what we need to change can make one feel he/she is incapable of choosing for himself/herself and this can make the person feel like a lesser person, one not capable of thinking or making decisions. Usually when given a choice on what we want to improve we will work harder at achieving the goal. Have a great day!”

Ernie Jones (Walla Walla, Washington USA

**9. “What would it take to make me change, huh??

Yanno Newman, I don't even know where to start with this one. I could very easily write a *novel* on this topic. I am a person with sight, so my opinions are not going to be totally relevant. However, my feeling is: we are all human, we all have the same emotions (even if we don't readily admit it ).

As a middle aged woman who lived through nine years of wedded HELL! I KNOW people change their values, their opinions and their personalities all through their lives. I'm no different from anyone else in my mind, as I worry that my butts too big, my boobs are too small, my face is getting worn with wrinkles and lines. (notice all the visual aspects to those fears... lol) But I also know that I am who I am. And after all these years I'm finally okay with that fact. I've sat my butt on the pity pot many times and sometimes it's taken a crow bar to pry myself off. Even when you have what someone else deems is the world on a string; that doesn't guarantee happiness in your heart.

When you want to make a change it's something only YOU can do. No one can do it for you, no matter how badly you, or they, wish. No one can *force* you to change, or to feel something that's not in your heart.

I spent three years in al-anon before and after my divorce, some ten years ago. I still carry many of the things I learned there in my day to day life. When it comes to wanting changes for yourself the phrase that I live by; that I learned in that program is simply this:

When you're sick and tired of being sick and tired; you WILL change.

So in my mind, it's as simple AND as complicated as that!

Making changes in yourself is much like climbing a mountain, in my way of thinking. You know what your goal is; therein lies the peak. You can't scale the mountain in one single bound. So you start with each pebble, each stone, stepping firmly on each one... forging a new foundation for yourself as you make your way to the top. You reach plateaus and you analyze where you are, how far you've come and how far you have left to go. Somewhere near the top of the mountain you finally figure out life is not a destination, it's a journey. There will always be times you slide back down the mountain a bit; after all we're only human.

So what would it take to make me change??? About $40,000.00 and a good plastic surgeon, other than that, I'll stay who am... the old broad's kinda growing on me after all these years. Besides all the lessons I've learned so far (yes, even the painful ones) are ones I wouldn't trade for all the money in the world. They've made me who I am and who I will continue to become.”

Laurie Steffee (Overland Park, Kansas USA)

FROM ME: “This respondent has experienced working within a counseling group setting, al-anon and she also makes a strong case that change must come from within you. My question is, can and how can these two forces work together to bring about change?”

**10. “Interesting question: what would it take? Originally, my counselor at the CNIB recommended that I take the odd evening class and weekend class to get back on my feet in terms of my education. I had been depressed, anxious and drunk for a couple of years, and one day I thought what the *#*#* am I doing with my life. I wanted to go back to school, but transition is not easy. Taking a Saturday class was ridiculous on a part time basis because Friday night was party time. Going to class the next day was out of the question. Needless to say, they thought I was failing at my vocational program.

Knowing myself and habits, I insisted on going back full time to stimulate my mind and give me something to do every day. They did not feel I could do it based on my past record under their plan. It took several meetings to convince them, and they were really shown up by my aggressive attack on getting this education. This whole episode was the catalyst to my independence. The first administrator I met, during my grade 7 to 10 upgrading, took a different approach to offering advice. After recognizing my ability and after getting to know me, she said: what are you doing Ross, take control of your own education and life. She continued: only you Ross can make yourself succeed. Now, a person could have been offended by her declaration, but after thinking about it for a couple days, she was so right it was scary.

There are people who do not like to be talked to in this manner, but counselors need to be able to say these things. I have known people who got offended and attacked the worker until they were gone. Good service delivery requires being able to point out problems, but also, the counselor must be able to take advice from the individual. The counselor in the thought provoker is good. Once a person is in the independence mode, they should be let go to take control over their life and services being provided to them. I think that is where the current rehab model might be failing. Day to day life things should be dealt with away from the helping agency.”

Ross Eadie

**11. “I would tell the counselor that just asking me that question has started the change in my attitude. I work for rehab and I know that many counselors as well as the general public believe that sighted people know what is best for blind people. The counselor in this story recognizes that each person is unique and what will cause one person to change will not work for another person. It is important for people who work in the field realize that point.”

Angela Farmer (Alabama USA)

FROM ME: “Okay, we have seen many references to the fact that a teacher or counselor does in deed have a significant impact upon a student or client. So to get the best result here are two questions:

1. What characteristics should this person have: Education, personality, inter-personal skills, philosophical approach, etc.

2. Which characteristics rank highest? Like is education more important than philosophy or is communication highest of all or…? And Why?”

**12. “I believe it would take a journey inward and acceptance of ones limitations. Searching for answers outside oneself is counter productive. Understanding of the capacity, ability and obstacles that each of us as individuals have can go a long way toward some answers and help in deciding what to do with ones' life. However, I believe I could say that winning the lottery would be something It would take for me to change!!!… Laugh”

Vince Lanas

FROM ME: “this is not the first bit of humor that used the gaining of a large amount of money as a reason for positive change. So I ask, would this really work? Does it change a person in how they feel about themselves, accept their vision loss or does it boost self esteem and like that? What might the positives be, the negatives and bottom line, is it the ticket to what you want? And/or does this ticket really take you to the place you desire?”

**13. “I believe that "change," means just that: But how does a person go about making a change? Just as the little story indicates, change can be influenced by other impersonal suggestions or personal suggestions. It's too easy to give a text book solution as doing that means the so called giver who is advising doesn't have to be involved emotionally it lets that adviser off the hook when considering the person who is being helped. the helper hands him/her some sentences and says "here, just follow this and you'll be helped!" I feel if a person whether he/she is handicapped or not needs that person who is helping to be involved emotionally and involved directly
from the heart! The person who is being aided senses the sincerity of the helper and can certainly realize from where the suggestions are coming--is it from the heart felt assistant or from a text book helper? Love is the real motivator: and the motivator will have it or he/she will not! The person needing empathy knows the other person's motives by their spirit as it is easy to pickup--The question is does this person care? Do they really care or are they "just doing their job?" Compassion moves people and as a result of compassion the one who is down will identify with the giver and listen, they'll think about it they will help themselves with the helper picking them up and showing them there's still hope! That is how I feel about bringing a change to anyone!”

Ken Buxton (Toronto, Ontario Canada)

FROM ME: “Here is a gentleman who clearly tells of his opinion of what the Helper needs to have to best bring about change in him. This is for him, and that makes me ask, ‘How can we best match up Helper types with Helpee types?’”

**14. “I have had several counselors over the past few years. Mainly due to the fact that I am a student and the counselors are grad students working toward their degrees and graduating from grad school, so they often change. I say this because I feel like I can better relate to this topic than the average person might.

In regards to talking with the counselors about blindness and dealing with blindness: this has varied from different counselors that I have had. One of them went through 2 sessions trying to get me to have more confidence in socializing with people, and wasn't picking up on the hints that I was dropping that I didn't want to talk about this. I finally went to a session with him and told him out right, "You're missing the point here. I have many other issues that I'd like to work through than just learning how to socialize or how to ask for help." After that, he was fine.

I have gotten into the habit recently of giving new counselors educational materials from the NFB, and that seems to help some in putting them at ease. Or, I might bring a speech from an NFB leader and talk with the counselor about it, not just for his benefit, but for mine as well.

In closing, I think that as long as they know where you are in your independence and lifestyle, and maybe even how you do some things,
blindness shouldn't matter. However, if they keep getting hung up on the fact of your blindness, and keep asking you things like, "Are you sure that you can do this, after you are blind?" or similar questions, you'd be better off in finding another counselor.”

Wayne Merritt (Denton, Texas USA)

FROM ME: “this response makes me ask, ‘When we have a need for a specific type of counseling, do we pick a generalist or a specialist? Or, maybe the larger question is, what if a specialist isn’t available, then what? What difficulties may arise and how can you ready yourself to deal with them?”

**15. “What a great PROVOKER! I have this situation....I am accepting being blind somewhat but have not renewed my life in new ways. I went from an excellent career one day to nothing the next. Since then, no personal validation of any kind. Answer...for me? Self confidence! That is what is would take. An occasional bit of positive input, something to look forward to once in awhile, getting out into the world, experiencing the situations, learning to cope and actually contributing something of value to others. Probably most of you know all this...count your blessings!”

Sheila Andren (Billings, Montana USA)

**16. “This is a good Thought Provoker as it hits on a basic - attitude of both the blind and those that serve the blind as well as the attitudes of the community at large.
Blindness has such negative connotations as a metaphor beyond the physical impediment - we speak of people being blind that are in fact ignorant, insensitive or even morally wanting. It is little wonder that both the blind and those who deal with the blind have major hurdles to overcome in developing positive, proactive attitudes and approaches to dealing with the physical aspects of blindness. The responsibility of improved attitude falls on all parties. The blind must accept their responsibility to educate and be proactive on their own behalf - no small task. They also must be open to listening to suggestions and taking those that are valuable and not be insulted by those that may be well meaning but are not helpful. Those that serve the blind must be open to accepting input from their clients and be supportive of their efforts and not be enablers. Both need to be educators of the community at large as to the integration of the blind into the community at large. These are all done with open communications and an effort by all to "see with the heart, speak with the heart." The greatest disability is that of the spirit, not of the body. Thank you for being such an important contributor to the education of all of us to all aspects of blindness and tending to our spirits. Happy New Year!”

Catherine Alfieri (Pittsford, New York USA)

**17. “What would it take to make me change? That was my counselor's question. I hadn't heard that before. I thought about it for a bit. I thought of the times when people had said, "lose weight;" "You need to be better groomed to make it out there." "Don't always be dreaming, do things." "Have confidence in yourself." The list went on and one. Now I was being asked what it would take to make me change.

Put me in contact with blind people who are successful. Help me to find and meet some who have had the same problems I do, the grooming, the weight, etc., and introduce them to me. Give me some time to visit with them, to see what they do. And let me see other blind individuals who are working, who are successful in areas other than the ones I think I might be interested in. Tell me, or help me to list, the things I have done right. Give me some affirmation when the job is well done. Since setting goals hasn't been so easy for me, help me to set small, realistic goals. I need affirmation; I need to know that, in spite of who I am, in spite of my blindness, I am an individual with my own personal characteristics, and
remember to accept me for those. Maybe if you can accept me for the characteristics that are strictly me, the blindness aside, I can begin to
accept myself, too, and learn to deal with the characteristics that blindness.”

Cindy Ray )Leon, Iowa USA)

**18. “I have not properly digested this thought provoker yet, but I do have one comment: It I assume this vignette is based on a real situation which happens all too often. I find it surprising though since my counselor (whom I don't necessarily see for reasons of blindness, though my disabilities do come up every once in a while) has pretty much banned the word "should" from our sessions. This has taught me a lot about my own expectations. Just a thought.”

Robin Mandell (Human service list)

**19. “We just used this short story as a discussion topic in my college class on counseling principles. We are looking forward to reading the responses. You will be surprised to find how many students in this class came into counseling with the idea of directing the lives of others. I think some of them actually believe what they learn in college will allow them to prescribe to others, bringing about change through their will.

Speaking of will, on the side of the client or patient, one of my fellow students used the analogy of, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.” His point was that sometimes you the counselor will lose. Well, I didn’t disagree, but I ask, help me to learn more about this horse, its habits, its ways and then I’ll better know what I can do to induce its thirst by what I feed it or by riding it harder. Thank you.”

FROM ME: “These THOUGHT PROVOKERS are being used not only in college classes, but also for the training of new rehab staffers, in schools for the blind for staff and students, for counseling sessions where it may be one-on-one or in a group setting. So for those who write in, know for what your words and experiences are providing for others.”

**20. “What I need for change is information and seeing what others are doing. I get allot of encouragement from being with other blind people and seeing what they have accomplished. I learn a lot from what they say on how to use the rehab system, knowing what the limits are and knowing how to ask for things. I’ve also learned that a rehab system is only as good as their staff, this is after philosophy. Philosophy is first, it dictates the type of expectation a client can expect, the type of question asked and the level of support you can get. Not every state has a good commission. I go to conventions of the blind and it doesn’t take long to know which ones do and which don’t. We can do something about the bad ones and we should encourage the good ones.”

Suzanne Texas USA)

FROM ME: “’…What would it take…’ Yes, this is a reflection of philosophy. What all do you think is in the makeup of this philosophy? What other questions might this counselor ask?”

**21. “I was born blind and as such never really had to deal with a counselor. However, there were lots of times when other people thought they knew what was best for me, without asking for my opinion. I found this incredibly frustrating.

The counselor in the story deserves a lot of credit for asking your input. If we don't have the opportunities to express our concerns, fears and desires then it's possible the we can come to believe that our feelings are not valuable in the decision making process. I've had to, on occasion, tell people, "Just because I cannot see doesn't mean that I am
not capable of making my own choices.”

Janet Ingber )Queens New York USA)

FROM ME: “Do you think it is possible to learn to recognize when it is that someone is over-stepping the boundaries of what is best practice in a counseling or teaching situation? Like where the helper is being too helpful or is being too restrictive or not forth coming with needed information or services? How can we learn this? What do you do in these situations when it occurs?”

**22. “It has been a bit since being involved in the group discussion.

Back ground: I was sighted until late 20's and then while driving a car, lost the sight. After going to Boston Mass Eye and Ear. To be told I have RP and the males are the receivers and Females are the carriers.
In getting my sight back and then to gradually, loose it. Well, it was like watching your fingers fall off one at a time, to me. To where I am today, Blind with some light perception. Using a guide dog and working, at the age of 53.

Well, in the beginning, It was anger, fear, frustration, tears, loosing ones self esteem and worth, getting drunk, and wondering why me!!
I did the Cane thing and busted several of them in the process of learning, how to use it. It seem to me that this so called Voc Rehab Center (Using no names) had a standard to follow; to get the person back out and in the public. Questions ask and direction given. Yet, in that time. Hello, what the hell do I do with all the feelings, self worth and low self esteem and all the other issues that were popping up???

I knew nothing but work. As I have been working since I was 17. So for a period of time I just said the hell with it! No one gives a dam..... So I
got my Butt back to work.... all emotional feelings were Buried, on this slow on coming blindness. That Dr. Eliot Person, told me, I would be
totally blind in one year or less! No sight! Well, that work for a while; yet not for real. I Again hook back up with Voc Rehab, because working and not totally blind. Well, there was no real service that could be offered. You had to be at a certain level of the blindness and I did not fit the bill!! More anger building! Then the bottle and then the family who said ok, Gene what are you going to do.
I found myself going to Voc Rehab again. Again at this point in time, Standardize advice was to be followed. Just get the person to travel and
work and into the public. As they are blind and we can not expect much. Which, I really got mad! Did counseling on my own. As I said I am going to be someone and I am going to prove it to me! to my Family! Meaning my
son's! It was after a period of time that I finally, built my self esteem up and self worth up, that I could start asking questions. Feeling comfortable in asking those questions! I owe that to my counselor (he &
She) who cared and said, " Gene, what the hell is it, that you want to do? What is your goals? " As noted in your opening, it was in my ball park! So with their help and my hard work in dealing with all the issues. I was feeling much better about myself on the inside!! To which, I hooked, up with a great lady in Voc State Rehab, again who cared and treated each one of her clients as a person! I would recommend her, and her type of delivery to a client. To anyone who is newly blind and knowing what he or she wants. As this lady has class, style and knows her job. She knows how to treat a person, as a person!
My feelings about a Voc Rehab Center, as there is in the city of Portland. Well it is mostly standardized to deal with the vast different types of
blindness in the state of Maine. There is a lot of things missing; yet that is not to say some of the staff doesn't care or not doing a great job. With in the restrictions they have to operate in with client. I also have to say there is a company here, in Portland that is also great working with her clients in her company, for profit. She also ask the question, What is it that you want to do with your life? Where do you want to work? Where do you want to be down the road? Then, sits with you and tries to figure out a way for it all to happen. With you being in on the work and doing the work to make it happen; with her guidance. Along the whole way, you are treated with respect and like a human being!!

It is hard enough dealing with the public and their perception of a “ Handicap " Person. With out also dealing with a counselor telling you what is good for you; instead of What would you like to do?

I think if a person has strong or close to strong self esteem and self worth. Then that person will not fall through the crack. That, that person will get the proper help he or she needs. We are looking at a time now in our government. They would prefer the " Handicap " to stay home. Fallen to what the European countries, are doing with their " Handicap persons ". As in Japan, Germany to name a few. To educate but stay home.

On the other side of the coin, of this, it makes it hard for those who are trying hard to make something of themselves. When there are those, who
choose, to milk the system, for what ever they can get out of it. Pleading poor me and you owe me!

So in conclusion, for me, I found the right person and both ladies knew what they were doing. I found two counselors that work as a team and cared. Then I had a family who cared. Putting it all together, I was blessed and a miracle was preformed! I am Gene Stone, proud of being blind! Along with being a service to society and to my family. A productive person in the community and contribute to the tax system both in the Federal and State level. I am, someone and I am independent!!”

Gene Stone (Portland, Maine - USA

**23. “It is my belief that adjustment to blindness is a process not an event. I can speak to this thought provoker from personal experience. When someone is having difficulty accepting blindness or deciding their vocational future, it may not be the best strategy to simply ask them what they are going to do to change.

When I lost my sight at age 24, I had previously been very active in sports, motorcycle riding, reading and my job relied primarily on using a computer. I did not know that any of these activities could be done by a blind person, and therefore, thought that all of the activities that I loved were no longer available to me. If someone would have asked me what I needed to do to change, I would have answered, "I need my sight back so I can resume my life!"

I am now a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor and see people with the same fears and lack of knowledge about resources available to blind people that I had. I believe that the adjustment process begins as the responsibility of
the counselor. Newly blinded people do not know what they can do, and hence, believe they can do nothing.

The process that I go through is to ask individuals what they like to do. What did they like to do before they lost their vision. Consider the avid
reader. Take away their eyesight and they believe that they can no longer read. They may not know about Braille or talking books. they may not know that many newspapers are available on line or over the telephone. Help identify the issues and help problem solve.

Take the computer geek. Sighted computer users earnestly believe that they rely solely on their vision to operate a computer....They do. does this mean that they could not be trained on magnification or speech software? No.

I was depressed because I thought all of the things I used to love to do were out of reach do to my blindness. It took a patient counselor to ask me the right questions, "What do you like to do?, What did you like to do when you had vision?", and then they processed that information and gave me information about alternative means for accomplishing those activities. As I began to read again, I began to get back some of my old life. As I
participated in adaptive computer training, I began to take back that portion of my life. As I learned about public transportation and
paratransit services, I was able to travel independently again. As I learned adaptive cooking and independent living skills, I drew that much
closer to adjustment.

do I still get the blues? You bet! Do I still curse the darkness on occasion? Right again. Do I have more tools in my belt to get over those
hard times? Yes. Why? Because someone who knew more about my condition than I did intervened and I was able to learn that many of the things that I used to do were still available to me. Maybe in a different format or through different means, but available nonetheless. Let's keep in mind that someone who first looses their vision may not have all of the answers. They may need a skilled counselor to help them identify how they can still live productive lives through adaptation and skills acquisition.”

David Ondich (Dallas, Texas USA)

FROM ME: “Are there stages or levels through which an education and/or counseling program must progress through? What might they be? How do you

get from one to the other?”

**24. “"What would it take to make you change?" the counselor asked....
If a counselor said that to me, in those exact words, I would feel as if
I had been put on the defensive, as if the counselor's opinion of me was
negative. If that counselor's opinion of me mattered to me, I'd
probably feel insecure, ashamed, guilty (even if I wasn't). I'd feel as
if I'd been set up to feel that way by game-playing. I might not, in that
atmosphere, understand that I was an okay person and had a right to say
so by standing up for myself in a positive way.

"Who says I need to change!" or "Maybe I don't want to change!" I
might retort, even though change is inevitable and there isn't a person
alive who cannot benefit from change. The possibility of "help" would be
lost on me in this exchange.

And the word "make" eeeeewwww sounds like a control-freak
control-freaking in a big way. I don't like that, either. Puts me in a
"lesser-than" position; a "I'm the winner here; you're the loser,"
position. None of this would be helpful to me.

I remember one time a counselor asking me "When are you gonna....?" and
I asked her why it was so important to her that I......? She had to
think about that one. Who's life were we talking about? I'll "whatever"
in my own time, I'd like to say. (sometimes I don't have the courage to
stand up to control-freaks and believe me, there are some in the
"helping" profession.

There is the other extreme, too, the passive doormats who feed off their
clients' stuff, hoping it will "fix" the counselors themselves. "What's
in it for me?" is necessary for humans to ask, just to survive, however,
it is not a good question for counselors to be asking themselves as they

are supposedly helping someone else, but it happens. Not just in the litter box.

I would also want to know what aspects of change the counselor was
talking about, I mean, what is the counselor's attitude about blindness,
about the independence of females versus males in our society, the
counselor's ideas of what meaningful work is, or what success is, in

I remember a counselor getting mad at me because I was upset when they
ran me through the "nuts and bolts" routine AFTER I had GRADUATED PHI
BETA KAPPA from the University. Maybe the counselor was just starting
from somewhere to assess my ability? Possibly. But other aspects of
that session suggested to me that the counselor (who could see) really
didn't expect much of me beyond going to school. However, if I'd done
the "nuts and bolts" thing, perhaps I'd have found a profession where I
could be using my hands in more ways than I now do. But that usually
doesn't occur to a young person, and, well, the climate of our agency at
the time was not positive for any of us who wanted to do normal everyday
life activities, blind or not.

If the counselor had rephrased the question as something like:
"I'm wondering about what it takes to bring about change in our
lives? What do you think? " then I might become more academic about it,
but not be as likely to take it personally. In fact, I might feel pleased
that my counselor respected me enough to value my opinions and thoughts.
A good discussion on barriers to change, propellers to change, plus
who's responsible for change, might follow and I'd have something
positive to think about and work on. And I might even become a better
person! Wow!

Too often, in communicating, we say "You made me do this." "What do I
have to do to make you change?" "When are you going to stop....?" When
people use "I" statements instead of "You" or "they" or "other people,"
statements, we're more likely to get somewhere in the conversation
because it doesn't sound like such an attack.

With all that, I'd be off on the wrong foot with this insensitive
counselor, as I'd see it. I might Wish I had a better one and maybe even
make a fuss about it. However, the world is not made of people who are
100% interested in making things better, or skilled at "saying it right,"
so it is also important that we learn to communicate assertively, rather
than aggressively, in our own handling of less-than-perfect
communication. And, finally, it is my opinion that counselors, of all
people, would do well to take assertiveness training, communication
skills training, and delve into their own personal "stuff" so that it
doesn't get dumped onto their clients. Lots of work for us all!!”

Lauren Merryfield (Washington USA kabootle2@juno.com

FROM ME: “So what about it, can you, should you question the things a counselor might say or do? How far can you take it?”

**25. I have a master's degree in community counseling, and although I love the first part of this question "what would it take" the last part is not behaviorally measurable. I understand that many blind people are accused of having negative attitudes, and there is no way to dispute that here. The point is that counselors need to point out more specifics rather than just telling the blind person to change. What is change, and what is a more positive attitude? If the counselor truly wants to be effective, why not say, "What would it take for you to travel independently and safely?" for some it might be travel with a cane, while with others it might be eventually getting a dog. "What would it take for you to find a job you enjoy?" for some it might be going back to school. Others may need to take career assessment tests. Still others may need additional motivation from someone like a counselor. and, sad as it may sound on the employment front, some people can't answer the question about what it would take, because it would take something like having their Social Security completely taken away in order to even want to work.

By not changing the end of this sentence to something behaviorally measurable, the counselor is condemning the blind person to self-torturous
thoughts. They may or may not think they have a bad attitude. If they do, it will re-enforce thoughts they've already had. If not, they will spend so much time being angry about the last part of the question that they don't hear the first part.”

Rebecca Kragnes

**26. “

When you're sick and tired of being sick and tired; you WILL change.

So in my mind, it's as simple AND as complicated as that! >>

FROM ME: "This respondent has experienced working within a counseling group setting, al-anon and she also makes a strong case that change must come from within you. My question is, can and how can these two forces work together to bring about change?">>

“The two forces work together in tandem. When you reach a point in your life where depression, unhappiness and overall being miserable with life; with what you're dealing with (or try to deal with) on a daily basis gets so overwhelming your ,mind plays games with you. Without going into the gory details of what I experienced; I will simply say.

Changing my situation for MYSELF and my children became paramount to me. I set goals for myself, learned to love myself (with all my flaws and
insecurities) and set forth on a new life journey. So for me; when my life became so unlivable and I was so miserable - I changed it. Did I WANT someone to change it for me?? Oh hell, yes... was anyone other than myself going to be able to do that?? Oh hell NO! LOL

Only you have the power to make your life as happy or as miserable as you CHOSE to. If you allow others to determine your happiness, well, in my
opinion you're giving them wayyyy too much control over YOUR LIFE. After all, it's YOUR life.

Make a list of what you NEED from life and what you have. If there's things on that list you can obtain then set your mind on changing them for yourself. Discovery of yourself is a fascinating journey.”

Laurie Steffee (Overland Park, Kansas USA)

**27. “I am a sighted woman who has worked with blind, visually impaired and deaf-blind individuals, all ages and backgrounds. I came into this work as an artist in Ohio and then, after working as an arts and crafts instructor at our camp for the blind, I was both challenged and intrigued by the clients (or campers as they were called) to continue in this field. I am grateful that I entered this profession as an artist, because it gave me a sense of direction that was very different from most of my colleagues. When I would first meet a child or adult, my first impressions were "here is this child who is struggling to learn, to belong, to become a part of this group...." I can't wait to talk to her! I want to know all about her likes and dislikes, her ups and downs, her favorite toys and music...etc." It wasn't just about her "blindness" or her "visual impairment." This was the same with the adults.............but a bit different. If the person I was meeting was once sighted then became blinded by an accident or illness, this was a different scenario all together. Still, I would often open the discussion with "Tell me all about yourself." Not just the blindness. Because we need to embrace the whole person........the person from the past, the person who is now seated in front of us........and the person who is trying to cope with their future. As an artist, I automatically communicated ideas that are imbedded in activity, friends and family, invention, and what it is that moves a person forward. I have met many rehab counselors in this profession.......and often they fail at communication skills and general humanistic feelings. Perhaps I was lucky, in that my knowledge as a creative person could lead me into more interesting ways to communicate and develop openness towards the individual in need.”

Jane Kronheim (Harrisville, New Hampshire USA)

**28. “I think it is good that people are discussing the notion that clients of rehabilitation might actually have ideas of their own about what will make a difference in their life. This makes for more intrinsic rehabilitation in the first place. In training, we must remember that while the knowledge of alternative techniques comes from the teacher, the real adjustment to blindness comes from within the student. I can't make your blindness a nuisance, you have to do that for yourself.
What I want to discuss about this thought provoker, however, is the wisdom we need to know when it is the student who needs to change and when it is the rehabilitation professional. I have had to make many changes when my way of doing something didn't work for that particular student as it did for the rest. More importantly, I was once a client, commanded to change by agency personnel who believed I had unrealistic expectations and that I was unreasonable in my tenacity regarding my choice of vocation. I had chosen a career that a blind person couldn't reasonably be expected to perform successfully, a career I now enjoy with a special relish as I look back on my days as a client of a state agency.
A counselor once said to me, "You don't change your mind easily, do you?" He meant it as an insult. I was intractable and unreasonable because I wouldn't be guided by his wisdom. As a sighted person and a
rehabilitation professional, he surely knew better than me and I was impudent because I thought I knew best what was good for me. Fortunately, I decided to take it as a complement. I knew people who did change their
minds easily and didn't want to be like them. I thought them wishey washy and likely to change their minds with each new authority figure to enter the room. Such people are undependable and I wanted to be more trustworthy than that. When I say I've changed my mind about something, it isn't on a whim. I did have to make a lot of changes regarding my beliefs and attitudes about blindness but these changes usually came about through the tutelage of someone who was wise enough to know when it was appropriate for me to do the changing. Most of the discussion has centered around attitudes about blindness but we must remember that our attitudes have as much effect on our clients as their own. After all, whether we deserve it or not, people who know very little about blindness will look to us as the professionals.”

Jane Lansaw N.C.B.V.I. (Lincoln, Nebraska USA)

**29. “>FROM ME: "How many of the rest of you had to go your adjustment solo?"

I only saw a representative twice. Once for the first interview and then once to discuss mobility training. I think they my counselor thought I was well adjusted already and did not need much. She was looking to me to let her know what I needed. By the time I even called the Commission for the Blind, I had already made many adjustments and bought several gadgets to assist me, she even said "Looks like you don't even need me here"! I
laughed at that one. Yes, I was functioning very well, but the emotional side was not addressed at all. I gave up driving in 1993, job in 1996 and finally saw the counselor later in 1996. OK...that's the "give-up" parts. But I did gain much. I gained time to reflect and change directions. I gained being home with my husband who started a business working from home. I am doing what I wished I could do...stay home and take care of the house and family, volunteer at church and other places. I gained time to write some poetry about losing vision. Like someone already said "Count your blessings".

>FROM ME: "'..as she had no time to baby me!.' How do you like that
This approach is appealing to me...I DO NOT want to be babied, just give me the new tools I need to deal with this situation and I'll take it from
there. I'll call you if something else comes up!

>FROM ME: "this is not the first bit of humor that used the gaining of a
>large amount of money as a reason for positive change.

EVERYONE would want to win big bucks, but it is not likely to happen and I
won't count on it. But if I did win the lottery...YES it would change me
to some degree. I would hire a driver just to hang around and be there whenever I wanted to do anything. I think that is the only change I really would like to make. I think most will agree that transpiration is the major barrier to doing almost anything. It most certainly takes away spontaneous action. I live in an area that has no public transportation, no Taxi's either. We do have a few delivery places that we can get take-out. But the point still is. I want to go out for something NOW...not when it is convenient for someone else.

To sum it all up, I am happy to stay home, take care of my house and
family, find out which tools are available to help me do this and LIVE!”

Joyce Cass Pratt (Gillette, New Jersey USA)

**30. “The question of what it would take to make anyone change is one which makes an assumption, namely, that the person wants/needs to change. The question, to my way of thinking, might be divided up into three parts.

First, are you happy with what you are, what you have, and what you are doing? It must be remembered that there are those who are happy with less of what this society defines as success, and, though I want all that is considered success, I can respect those who don't and they have the right to live their own lives as they please.

The second question may be: what do you want to have? What would make you happy with what you are, what you have, and what you are doing? What do you want?

The third question should be: what do you have to do to get what you want? Does that involve change to you, to your environment, to your job, or to something else altogether? There are three things about these questions. First, they aren't at all specific to the blind. A blind person has to ask these questions like any other. The blindness is just one more problem that the person has to deal with. And though there are many of us who are blind who go through these questions, I really don't think there is any difference in the questions themselves. The second thing is that these are questions that can only be answered by the person in question. I cannot count the number of people that want to change others. This is especially prevalent in the counseling field. It is natural to impose our will upon others, especially if we think that those others may be inferior to us in some way, such as not having sight. The councilor/helper or anyone else who attempts to do this is bound to fail. The answers come from within and only from within. The helper may ask, but, far too often, the helper tries to answer as well, and that simply cannot lead to success for anyone. Thirdly and lastly, the blindness or other disability should not influence the answers, or the response to the answers in the slightest. There are, of course, exceptions. If a blind person wishes to do something that could harm others, such as driving a truck, that should not be allowed for the safety of the community. However, other than those things, which are not difficult to determine, the disabled person should be given every opportunity to do precisely what he/she pleases. If councilors are judged by successful outcomes, this can never happen, because success is not defined. What the councilor should ask at the conclusion of every case is: has this person gotten what he/she wants? Even if what he/she wants is wrong, stupid, foolish, and may be called by all the synonyms of those adjectives. This is the only way in which true equality can be achieved in these things. Imagine if someone came into the home of a sighted person and said "this is what you should do to change. You really need to do this.". Even the most brazen of psychologists would hesitate before doing such a thing. Therefore, the blind person, just as much as the sighted person, should have full and absolute control over his/her life.

The question of what it would take to make a person change is really the fourth one in a series. The person must first decide that he is not happy. He must then decide what he wants to make him happy. Thirdly, he must decide what to do about it, and finally, he must decide what it would take to make him do it.”

**31. “My approach is different in some ways. My VR counselor is a sighted person with a tight wallet and a narrow visioned person.. Recently I left a decent paying job funded by your Federal Tax dollars. many reasons brought upon this decision but the biggest was paper shuffling to bring in more grant funding. Several times I referred myself to the VR counselor about computer upgrades to remain competitive in the business world. I was still setting back in dos and using old reliable, "nettamer" which I continue to use from time to time.. However was told by my v counselor the way to go was Jaws for Windows as that was best in business.. He was/is wrong and so was my sighted supervisor who was willing to spend another $5,000 to $10,000 to expand my office and positive thinking.. My opinion then and still is that freedom of choice was being compromised and to much money was being
spent to tell me, Sa blind person what I needed. For several thousand dollars less I am very happy now for over a year using Linux, my choice
and very useful in any field of work.. y point is that a choice was made
on my part not to take the opportunity to stay in a disability service
office which in fact was trying to tell me what my choice in life was or is. Wee are all individuals and with that in mind ,I will seek and find a new business opportunity whereas I will use my Linux system to grow and flourish...What will it take for me to change? Nothing but my stubbornness
and willing to expand a horizon in which my family and I and many other persons with a disability will grow.. Will I accept assistance ? yes, as
long as it is in my best interest and not on the backs of others. Let me finish by saying we can all " seek and find.....”

Lee A. stone (Hudson,New York USA

FROM ME: “One of the themes I see in this gentleman’s story is that of choice, choice of what equipment and services he would need to make his employment a successful one. Sounds like the professionals he was working with had some differing ideas. So the question is- Who rules when it comes to choice? If there has to be compromise, under what circumstances and how far?

**32. “Personally I feel that if a person has trouble dealing with their blindness there are other related issues involved. How does the person
feel about himself, self esteem. How does the person deal with social interactions? The trick to a good counselor is one who listens and does
not judge or give unsolicited advice but allows the person to work
through their own problems. Someone else's plan does not ever work but
your own can. I would think about my own inner feelings and share those
with the counselor.”

Robyn Wallen (Saint Louis, Missouri USA)

**33. “I can speak as both a consumer and a so-called professional on this one. I was fortunate to have had positive parents who demanded excellence from all of us kids and just because I was blind did not excuse me from these demands. Loving nurturing parents who knew when to push and believe me they did. A true professional needs the philosophy, the communication skills, the experience and the belief in his or her clients to help the clients to take control of their own lives. Having said all of this, I also believe in tough love and a skilled counselor knows how to combine tough love with that patient no nonsense nurturing spirit that causes the counselor to cause the client to want to take control. The greatest supervisor I ever had was a guy who told me, "the only limitations I place on you are those you place on yourself. My dad also gave me some of the best advice I ever had and I have tried to pass it on to clients. He told me, "stand up for what you believe even if you stand alone." He also told me that if I wanted it done right I had better do it myself and not wait for someone to do it for me. These are words of wisdom I have always tried to pass on to my clients, students and kids. it usually works.”

Joyce M. Porter (Houston, Texas USA)

FROM ME: “Let me ask about one of the several great nuggets of thought this lady gives us- ’…the only limitations I place on you are those you place on yourself…’ Dig into this one! What all can this mean; I mean in terms of slowing your adjustment down or even turning it off? How else might someone do it to themselves? I have heard this ‘limiting of oneself’ spoken of in yet a different way, as a result of a ‘self fulfilling prophecy.’”

**34. “the "tough love" technique: no, I don't think it would work for everyone. No other "technique" would, either. The only universally effective therapeutic approach I can think of is unconditional acceptance of exactly the way the person is (unconditional humane love) plus being there right in the moment with them. This is immensely powerful, and may well open up both people's hearts and minds simultaneously. It certainly will open the way for honest and profound communication.

What qualities should a good counselor have? Unconditional acceptance of the client as is - which, incidentally, will give the client room to change. Why? Because the client's sense of self (ego) won't have to prove that (s)he was already doing it right, which would have left the client stuck right where (s)he is at the moment.

What other qualities does a good counselor need? Being in the moment with the client - right now, moment to moment. This is a challenge, but it creates enormous confidence, trust and caring between the two people. It also allows the counselor access to some very powerful intuition (inner guidance?) as to what their client needs in that moment. Even a few moments like this will bond the two, so that the client is aware of being cared for and heard. Since most people are using at least half their attention planning what they'll say in return while you are talking with them, having someone's full attention
can be very powerful.

Anything else? A commitment to honest self-examination helps a lot to get one's own agenda out of the way of the counselee's. I think an experience of what I call "the place of no words" helps, too. It's what happens when you know a piece of music so well that when you pick up the instrument and begin to play, it's as if your volition steps out of the way and the music plays you. Or you pick up a paintbrush to begin a painting, and your conscious mind steps aside and the painting flows through you and out of your fingers. Or you're Tiger Woods "in the zone" and the perfect hits flow through you and into the golf ball more perfectly than the mind could ever plan. In the moment. "the place of no words" can provide knowledge of what is needed - once you know how to find your way there.
You can find some beautifully-described examples of the failure of "techniques" and the power of being in the moment with someone in the novel Mount Misery, written by psychiatrist Stephen Bergman (pseudonym Samuel Shem). It's fascinating and enlightening for anyone who has ever done counseling.

Has anyone else out there gone it alone, you ask? Yes, I did for almost 2 years. Not because help in Denver was totally unavailable - there's the Low Vision Center at Porter Hospital, which is excellent - but my schedule prevented me from getting there when the help and groups were available. When I fell the 4th time on stairs I couldn't see, (I have no-low-contrast tunnel vision) I got a cane and learned to use it on my own. I was still driving because my vision was still under the legal limit, but I stopped the day I drove the wrong way up a divided concrete road with a concrete divider I couldn't see. Luckily I had already applied for Denver's Access-a-Ride program (because I went to work so early that I couldn't see in the pre-dawn light). so I used that to get around. I found a local source of low vision aids and bought as many as I could afford, learning how to use them on my own. Whether or not you have assistance in adjusting available to you, don't let anything stop you. Yes, it's easier with a resource to help you. Now I have the Braille Institute, which does an excellent job of serving much of Southern California - including me. I love having peers to share the challenges and joys with and I appreciate all the teachers for their information and insight. My path is easier
with them in my life, but I'm so determined I'd get there anyway. For those of you far away from anyplace like to Low Vision Center or the Braille Institute, don't forget the Hadley School for the Blind. If you are legally blind, they'll send course materials out to you on tape, in Braille or in large print - at no cost to you. They have an extensive course catalog, which they'll also send you in the format you can use - large print, Braille or tape.

Whether or not you're new to vision loss, please don't ever give up on yourself or on adjusting to diminished vision.”

Karen (Dana Point. California USA)

FROM ME: “Falling down stairs and/or driving your car into situations where you really can’t see what is in your immediate environment.. QUESTION- For those of us who have done this denial bit to the point of endangering yourself or others, is there, was there anything that could have helped you to come more quicker to making a change to a low vision or non-visual alternative technique?”

**35. “Good thought provoker. I have noticed that people are often full of "good” advice on what others should do to improve their lives - or at least live up to the advisers' standards. Fact is, you can't know what will improve my life or make me happy. You also have no business telling me how I should or should not feel about circumstances in my life or what my goals should be. Eleven years in Al-Anon have taught me two things: 1) Don't give advice because it rarely works out the way you expect it will and can do more harm than good. 2) You will make changes in your life when you're sick and tired of being sick and tired.

But looking at things from another angle, usually people who advise us to change are telling us that we should wake up to reality, because our hopes and dreams are not attainable, not valid, or not worthwhile in their eyes. This could awaken in me a most un-pacifistic desire to spit in their eye and charge them for an eyewash.”

Carolyn Gold (Clearwater, Florida USA rgold2@tampabay.rr.com)

**36. “Responding to 27! Just why is that person at camp who "lost" his sight different? That's exactly what I want to know! This may be a key as to why formerly sighted folks are treated
differently! How come I, who have never seen, have to be put into a "separate” category from the person who lost his sight?
I look forward to a response to this!”

Phyllis Stevens (Johnson city, Tennessee MAILTO:stevensp@chartertn.net)

**37. “This PROVOKER was just in time as I have been losing my vision for the past few years. Adjustment to blindness is a biggie for me at this time. My mind is on a balance beam telling me which side I should be on. One side wants me to lose my vision as I have went through a lot with struggles and pain. I can see movement and it disturbs me when I am doing things tactilely, such as reading a Braille book or listening to a book. On the other hand, I have another side that doesn't want me to lose vision as I'd would've liked to still see some of the things that are wonderful to see. I have found reading these provokers to help me a great deal, but some days I am depressed if I can't see something. For example, Christmas Day, opening presents and not knowing what I have got. I had fairly good eyesight a year ago. At first it was thought to be a progressive loss but it seems to be a major drop according to my visual acuity status. A year ago, when I wore prescription glasses, I had 20/70 and now, prescription glasses take up too much glare and I wasn't receiving enough information with them if I get headaches all the time. Now my vision is 20/400. I can't read print unless it
is extremely large, but prefer to read Braille now.
Have a great day,”

Jenny McEachen (Prince George, British Columbia Canada)

**38. “I want to respond with, as I see them, two issues here.
First, if one looses sight, one must adjust to blindness, but if one
does not loose sight, yet never had any---one must still adjust to

By this I mean, people have certain attitudes, all your family,
friends, counselors, etc. have developed certain beliefs about what a blind person can or cannot do. Whereas, a person loosing sight, "use
to do or be," and his problem is to figure out how to again "be and
do!" The person who has never seen, however, has no notion of how to be or do, in that, if he/she listens to family and friends and
counselors, the information given is:
You couldn't do that! You are blind!
You are unrealistic! You are blind!

I have observed in my life that people who were once sighted and are
now blind, are given a little bit of a break because they know what it would be like to "see" and or "do" a particular job! Somehow, it
seems that counselors are more able to communicate to these people,
because the skills they need such as mobility and training on computers, learning Braille are concrete things--easily provided.

Yet the person who has never had sight, what does one do with
this---he's already had mobility somewhere, he already knows Braille, he learned computer skills, he just doesn't have a job!!! I think the second issue is related--attitude of the counselor toward clients!! There are pre-conceived notions we all have, yet in rehab counselors there is a tendency to put blind people into "acceptable" professions! Today it's massage therapy, yesterday it was vending program and piano tuning! If you attempt to object to being pigeon holed in one of these accepted fields, you are always being "unreasonable,
uncooperative, and belligerent!"
So I think that counselors should be taught to not assume a newly
blind person only should get a life back, but all the clients need a
life! and secondly, that clients really and truly "can" think and decide what's the best career--so do not automatically assume that just
because no other client has done this, does not make the choice bad,
nor does it mean the client is not cooperating! Let's see if those
counselors can't do the second part of their job--to become advocates for and of the clients they serve instead of trying to put them in the "vending" box or the "massage therapist" box just because it's easier and more accessible and acceptable of jobs today!
Like this PROVOKER!!”

Phyllis Stevens (Johnson City, Tennessee .


**39. “"What would make me change?"

The love, respect and support of another person. It's scary being
alone in this world. But since, chances are, that's not going to
happen, I agree, the change has to come from within oneself - belief in oneself, a positive attitude, will emanate out to the rest of the world.”

Patricia Hubschman (Levittown, New York USA)

FROM ME: “What do they say? “Behind every good man/woman is a good woman or man. Supportive family is of course one of the best of the factors/forces to have on your side. Who or what would you think would be the next best and the next; what would be the top five for you?”

**40. “I according to my own experiences have gone from being helpless to learning to be independent. I was fortunate enough when in the voc. Rehab. system I had a counselor who explained how they had responsibility in assisting me in achieving my goals and in some cases he did for me because of the whole blindness thing being new to me. I can tell you because of that I was able to learn to hold voc. rehab. accountable when they didn't want to come through for me. Now that I'm in the independent living field, I can and do work with individuals who have problems with their counselors and together we work on holding those counselors responsible for what they are suppose to be doing for us as people with disabilities. It's not to many times that counselors allow us to take charge or have control of our own lives. When we come across those counselors who want for us to do what they want we need to find advocacy organizations to assist us in the fight. There has been some progress made in the last 10 years, but it is not enough and until we become educated on what our rights are we will find ourselves following what the counselors want. Again, coming from the independent living movement it's about us controlling our own lives, in other words "nothing for us without us".”

Luis Roman (East(Chicago, Indiana USA

FROM ME: “A very serious question- How can we best educate the consumer to his or her rights within the rehab process?”

**41. “After reading these responses, I have vowed to try harder to get client imput during sessions. I have eluded to my job as a social worker administrator, but I have never given extensive details. My job is to address economic factors occurring in families. Usually this means that someone needs education on creating and maintaining a budget. I can't count the number of times I have asked a client for imput, and they say, "I don't know." This often alerts me to one of a couple of problems. First, our relationship has never gotten to a trusting relationship; or, they really don't wish to make a difference at this time. I like this PROVOKER, because it reminds me to keep asking the question. Maybe eventually, some different thoughts may come about. I almost
wish that I had spent a little more time on the other side of the table, so to speak.”

Marcia Beare, M.S.W. (Martin, Michigan USA

FROM ME: “What do you think? Can a long time professional be reminded too often of some of the most basic rules of communication and/or counselor/client interaction? How might a reminder of this type be presented; like in role playing, etc?”

**42. “I want to respond with, as I see them, two issues here.
First, if one looses sight, one must adjust to blindness, but if one
does not loose sight, yet never had any---one must still adjust to

By this I mean, people have certain attitudes, all your family,
friends, counselors, etc. have developed certain beliefs about what a blind person can or cannot do. Whereas, a person loosing sight, "use
to do or be," and his problem is to figure out how to again "be and
do!" The person who has never seen, however, has no notion of how to be or do, in that, if he/she listens to family and friends and
counselors, the information given is: You couldn't do that! You are blind! You are unrealistic! You are blind!

I have observed in my life that people who were once sighted and are
now blind, are given a little bit of a break because they know what it would be like to "see" and or "do" a particular job! Somehow, it
seems that counselors are more able to communicate to these people,
because the skills they need such as mobility and training on
computers, learning Braille are concrete things--easily provided.

Yet the person who has never had sight, what does one do with
this---he's already had mobility somewhere, he already knows Braille, he learned computer skills, he just doesn't have a job!!! I think the second issue is related--attitude of the counselor toward clients!! There are pre-conceived notions we all have, yet in rehab counselors there is a tendency to put blind people into "acceptable" professions! Today it's massage therapy, yesterday it was vending program and piano tuning! If you attempt to object to being pigeon holed in one of these accepted fields, you are always being "unreasonable,
uncooperative, and belligerent!” So I think that counselors should be taught to not assume a newly blind person only should get a life back, but all the clients need a life!

and secondly, that clients really and truly "can" think and decide
what's the best career--so do not automatically assume that just
because no other client has done this, does not make the choice bad,
nor does it mean the client is not cooperating! Let's see if those
counselors can't do the second part of their job--to become advocates for and of the clients they serve instead of trying to put them in the "vending" box or the "massage therapist" box just because it's easier and more accessible and acceptable of jobs today!
Like this PROVOKER!!”

Phyllis Stevens (Johnson City, Tennessee USA
MAILTO:stevensp@chartertn.net )

FROM ME: “This lady brings up several important issues. First, “mind sets;” they are going to have them and we know how that will impact what service they provide. How might we evaluate them, the mind set and how might we change them if necessary?

Next- “…counselors can't do the second part of their job--to become advocates for and of the clients they serve…”
And my question is, what would be the top five services a counselor could provide their clients?”

**43. “This one's a little difficult for me. First, I'm at a position in my life where, since I've been blind since birth and I'm in a pretty good position in life right now (I'm getting married in a year and a half), I don't think there's much I need to change. And if I do, I'll find it out on my own and just change it or not, depending on whether or not I think it needs to change. But as for what I'd tell the counselor? I don't know whether there's much that can actually be said, because the assumption from the question is still "You need to change." So, if I'm having trouble accepting my blindness, and figuring for instance that I don't need good cane techniques, I might say "I don't need to change, period, end of story." And I'd either find out on my own that I definitely need to change (get better cane skills, learn to read Braille, whatever), or I'd be stuck in the same position. So I'm not really sure if there really would be anything I could say. I think the things that change us are time and tears more than anything, and sometimes we don't know how to answer the question "What would it take for you to change" unless we know we're wrong. If the character in this sketch doesn't know he's wrong, (assuming he is), then he might not have anything to say. I do not know if it makes any sense, but those are my thoughts. Cheers!”

John Coveleski (New York, New York USA

FROM ME: “A real tough question here- Say a person is demonstrating difficulties with their blindness and does not appear to recognize this face, say they are blaming something or someone else or let’s just have you fill in the problems source, but blindness is at its roots, how can you as a counselor bring this person to recognize the true nature of their difficulties? Can this be manufactured? Is it right to orchestrate this type of thing?”

**44. “..will be a tad gutsy and state that I would prefer the query to be not what would it take to make you change to what is it you would like to change ... to me the first query implicitly implies that I am deficient and perhaps I am but at times that is the last thing I need to hear if after countless sessions all I have been made to feel is a failure ... so while what would it take to make you change places the onus of choice on me as versus the person sitting opposite who is always the expert on what one needs to do to accomplish or over come this that or the other .... the thing is do I need to change or is the circumstances surrounding me that I want to alter????? I could possibly have more luck and ability with support to begin changes on my environment which in itself would then possibly assist in other changes occurring .... in a counseling situation we are there because we are looking for a possible support system to set into place and the means to do it - to me the first thing I would prefer to concentrate on is my circumstances because often they can be the cause of my emotions and reactions - a vicious circle so to speak that one cannot break out of - so to alter the cycle then I must alter the environment and hopefully the changes will then influence and empower me - provide me with enablement skills to move forward .... we so often seek introspectively thinking or holding the belief that we are the one at fault ...the question centers on make you change ... I would prefer the choice of what is it I would like to change therefore not concentrating on myself to seek implied faults or deficiencies but have more thought on what it is I would like to change in MY life not in ME but MY life ... hope this makes sense ... I like the approach but I still think it takes a medical model approach in the type of question used ....”

Julie L. Robottom (Northern Region - Gresswell Cluster, Australia)

**45. “I would tell her that I appreciated being asked. I would tell her that it takes someone who believes that folks who are blind can do and be . I would tell her that it takes a person who believes that it is respectable to be blind and acceptable to use a cane, Braille, dog guide, etc. I would tell her it takes a person who believes that ones value is not dependent on one's vision. Finally I would tell her that I would want someone to work with me who not only says these things but who can model some of the things they are asking me to do. Not that they have to be blind, but they in order to have a positive attitude and confidence are willing to do or have done some things that they are asking me to do. Instead of putting me with a travel instructor who talks about the ability to travel with a cane across a street, give me one that can show there confidence in me and the technique by being able to do that if I need the encouragement.

In addition to a real belief in what I can do, in order to change I need information that the professional as an expert in blindness has to offer. Don't just ask me what I want, because I may not know. I would want good information about good quality services, how others have benefited from certain service providers...are they working and or living on their own? To change I would need also contact with other blind persons who have been successful, regardless of organization affiliation. I would also ask for straight feedback on how I was doing, someone not just to listen and encourage, but to confront me when I needed a dose of reality. One other thing I need to change of course is my own motivation and desire to do so. Without that all of the best persons and services will not do much good.”

Edwin Kunz (Austin, Texas USA)

FROM ME: “Okay! Here is a strong proponent for modeling, information and blindness philosophy. What about modeling? How strong is the value of having a blind counselor working with blind clients? How can a sighted counselor demonstrate blindness related attitudes and abilities? Secondly, if information relating to developing and reaching a goal is important, how can the counselor bring this to the client who needs it?”

**46. “As these THOUGHT PROVOKERS go, it is up to us to read into them not only the intent of the writer’s question, but to review the responses of other forum participants. In this spirit I write:

The PROVOKER author is giving us a scenario of a client receiving the challenge to assess their needs and then formulate a coherent accounting in order to write a plan to meet them. Let me first say, the PROVOKER hints the counselor may have recognized a need within the client for change; IE attitudinal or functional or educational, etc. I might also assume that what had transpired first is a discussion of goals and upon having them lain out upon the table, the counselor is respectfully asking the client how are you going to get from here to there? Either way, the narrative of the clients thoughts of which we are privy to tells us that what was being asked was felt to be of a respectful and helpful nature. It is always interesting to see how others within this forum and life in general will all view the same scene or in this case THOUGHT PROVOKER. Some see the positive in the stated wordage, some might see the phrasing and question it and with some small modicum of discussion have it restated as most of us would do in a one-on-one discussion of this type would do. Then there are a few of us, as demonstrated by those responses in this listing, who simply took offence and did not move to negotiate terms. My personal thought concerning these types of personalities, is that if upon reflection by these parties, if their were not a change in approach, I’d wonder and indeed question their ability to successfully transition from one phase in life to another and be successful and happy.

Returning to the counselor and the approach that I feel is demonstrated by this PROVOKER, the placing of responsibility and expectation upon the client is the correct approach for most cases. I wish to qualify this by saying, one should always start at this level of approach. Only later by actual results of lack of ability or adult responsive behavior would the counselor redirect their approach. Some clients I believe will need a form of guidance that in the beginning may need to be more “hand-holding” in nature. Being realistic, some of us are not in a position to effectively assess our own faults and needs. In addition, some of us need others to set up a structure of action, checks and balances. Indeed, some of us due to a true lack of intellectual ability need a total custodial approach by the helping hands of others.

One major consideration in the more client oriented locus of control, is that the client will need information on which to base their educated choice. Informed choice I believe is the name of the game and in my books, it’s the only game in town for a good counseling service to employ.

I would like to see what others feel about the part choice plays in the rehabilitation or educational plan. Please do present us a THOUGHT PROVOKER on choice.”

FROM ME: “A PROVOKER dealing with choice is coming; not necessarily next time, but soon.”

**47. “It has been a long time since I wrote to a thought provoker. But this one really interested me. I was asked by my counselor what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I have RP and went total around 1980. But, after I was asked what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, they tried to fit me into their mold. They would tell me they would help me get what I wanted and where I wanted, but I had to do it all their way. They really did not have the capabilities to teach me what I wanted to learn. So that is frustrating. I read where others were able to get computer software, training to use it etc. But, I was told those things are available to me, but it never came through. I guess because of my age, over 60, they think I should be happy to be "put out to pasture". Well, there are so many things I would still like to do. Wish they could see me as I see me, still young enough and willing to learn new things. *Sigh*”

Pat Conrad (Dunbar Iowa USA)

**48. “I am taking a few minutes to scan through the new responses. It sounds so similar to a personal struggle that I am now experiencing. I have a family member facing life with a mental illness. Because of this, working is becoming more difficult. This person's response toward changing is giving rehab a try. I am hoping it will help, but, even if it doesn't, at least we will know that we made an effort toward changing. I firmly believe that making an effort, whether following your own steps or using suggestions from others, makes a difference.”

(I’m not signing this response this time)

**49. “I've been following this particular thought provoker with interest having been both a recipient of and provider of
Habilitative/Rehabilitatiove Services. I was particularly heartened by the pragmatic non-dogmatic analysis of the question posted
in #46 which I shall quote in part, and respond to:
"> The PROVOKER author is giving us a scenario of a client receiving the > challenge to assess their needs and then formulate a coherent accounting in > order to write a plan to meet them. Let me first say, the PROVOKER hints > the counselor may have recognized a need within the client for change; IE > attitudinal or functional or educational, etc. I might also assume that > what had transpired first is a discussion of goals and upon having them lain > out upon the table, the counselor is respectfully asking the client how are > you going to get from here to there? Either way, the narrative of the > clients thoughts of which we are privy to tells us that what was being asked > was felt to be of a respectful and helpful nature. It is always interesting
> to see how others within this forum and life in general will all view the > same scene or in this case THOUGHT PROVOKER. Some see the positive in the stated wordage, some might see the phrasing and question it and with some > small modicum of discussion have it restated as most of us would do in a > one-on-one discussion of this type would do. Then there are a few of us, as > demonstrated by those responses in this listing, who simply took offence and
> did not move to negotiate terms. My personal thought concerning these types of personalities, is that if upon reflection by these parties, if their were > not a change in approach, I'd wonder and indeed question their ability to > successfully transition from one phase in life to another and be successful and happy."

It seems to me that there is always a fine balancing line between the cultures of "authoritarianism" as exemplified by the
Psycho-Dynamic model of psycho-medical model of therapy as applied to the habilitation/rehabilitation process, and that of the
"client centered" counseling model. Both parties--counselor and client--bring resources and limits to the table. Blind people are the
same as others in our culture, most people would rather blame their self-perceived failures or failures recognized by others on an
external force. Sometimes society, an oppressor (sightlings), lack of formal educational attainment, culture of origin, current level of
familiarity with a language, current level of training, Etc., are factors blamed. Yet We humans have a tool which can be harnessed
to evoke the types of change we are looking for--it is our mind, the harnessing of it and disciplined use of it can work what a
watching outsider would call a miracle. There are totems to which we can assign the power of providing us with the necessary
focus or strength: support groups, influential counselor/mentor, or, a spiritual trail/brand-name;
but eventually, it comes down to the ongoing effort an individual makes to master a body of knowledge (intellectual, physical and
emotional) which is necessary for the performance of a role--whether that role be sobriety, acting as a parent/or counselor, or,
Functioning within the context of student or tax paying employee.

A client works with the self-imposed limits of the amount of time, energy, and focus he/she is willing to expend upon the
Educational process--whether that process pertains to the mastery of Braille, mobility skills, the
underlying aspects of the use of a computer/screen reader/or an application, or, those social skills necessary to enable oneself
accepted as part of a social or working community. Similarly, a counselor too works within limits. Often, states only require a
"related degree" for consideration of an individual to fill a counseling position. Often a counselor is therefore limited by their lack of formal education pertaining to the process of Habilitation/Rehabilitation, of disability, or, by the philosophical perspectives of those providing the basis of his/her
orientation to the process and nature of the counselor's function.

Then too, a counselor works within a frame work of expectations: he/she must serve anywhere between some small number such
as 20, to up to 700 or 800 clients. Contingent upon the state legislation, regulation and definition of the service providing agency,
the counselor may have clients with a single range of disabilities--endangered low vision to total
blindness, or, a popery of disabilities ranging from Hysterectomies, hemorrhoids to hernias and on... There is always the
looming factor of the quota a counselor works under to obtain "status 26 case closures" so that the agency keeps doing
what it is legally responsible to do--generate tax payers. Most sane and pragmatic people will opt to try to attain as many successful closures first with those for whom the process will be straight forward, fast, and cost effective... If they have a good heart and are humanistically inclined, this buys them time to work on the more intractable problems of people with more deficits to fill...
Budgets and time are limited, cases are under the scrutiny of evaluators, both those attempting to assess the efficacy of agency
practices, those seeking to evaluate the performance of the counselor, consumer-based advocacy organizations and agencies, and
legal scrutiny from executive, legislative and judiciary branches of government because of client-generated or consumer
advocacy generated complaints.

Add to this the fact that a counselor is a human being too, with limitations of education, attitude, pressures from a personal life (yes
counselors have families and problems too) and limitations of resources such as financial resources which can be expended upon
a particular case (averagecost per closure) and it quickly becomes apparent that a counselor is not a "God", that they must seek
to exert some control over the process--as there are patterns of problems and reactions which any reasonably trained and
intellectually equipped human being can observe and recognize--and it becomes apparent that the counselor must try to direct the process. Most people are neither articulate, nor are they adept at synopsizing their feelings and recognition to such an all-encompassing and often traumatic life change as is posed by blindness and the untrained
capabilities of someone with this specific disability versus the inherent flexibility and freedom of action to physical circumstances
allowed by the possession of vision... So it seems a short-sighted (excuse the pun) and defensive reaction for blind persons
dissatisfied with their places in society and life to always blame counselors, agencies, or sightlings per se. All of those
individuals may act in a way we dislike based on ignorance of our particular situations intentions or capabilities as we perceive them,
yet in the long run, it is We who must bring about our goals and maintain their attainment and furtherance, agencies and their
agents/counselors can only provide support. It is easier to use cookie cutter approaches as an untrained, overwhelmed or burned out counselor--and it is easier to serve uneducated inarticulate malleable clients, or those amenable to being directed by an
assertive authority figure. It is time and
resource consuming to serve articulate, imaginative, educated middle or upper class clients with preconceived notions of what
they expect from the process.

I am not seeking to defend practitioners or the system per se, only to promote the consideration that there is a balance between
our expectations, and the capabilities and expectations of those designated to serve us; and, a
recognition of how lucky we are in countries where there is a system with which we can interact with the freedom to advocate for
ourselves. We as individuals have real and self-imposed limits whether we are functioning in the role of counselor/or client. If we
are to succeed in whatever our role, we must recognize and come to terms with those limits.”

W. Nick Dotson

FROM ME: “So… a balance between the two parties of the rehab process. So can a well informed and smart client be successful if his/or counselor isn’t on the ball? Or in reverse, can a really together counselor get a not too whippy client up and running and successful in reaching his/her goal? I mean, just how far can the balance tip one way or the other before you reach the success and/or the negative range?”

**50. “I found the thought provoker on the web when my heart and mind were ready to listen. I too feel the love of another person would evoke deepest changes, the laughter and tears shared with the deepest part of oneself would be the first PROVOKER of change. Though I lack that, I am blessed with the second change enhancer which is the love and support of honest friends. Being in the work force is the third reason I would more readily make changes. Have been fortunate for have always worked since college.

The final element that would help me to change is our coming together discussing issues relevant to our blindness as we do in these articles. Would like to see stories about dating, marriage and family relative to blindness. Thanks for caring.”

Dinky (USA)

**51. “I must say Robert, you've hit on a good one this time. From the scenario presented here it is obvious that the client/consumer is in need of a change of circumstances. Since previous attempts for teaching and rehabilitation have failed it is clear that there is a problem here. Our consumer expresses appreciation for the counselor's question "what will it take for you to change," therefore, we must assume that the consumer knows that he/she needs to make some changes. It could be that the needed change is to admit that he/she does not know what needs to be changed. Being a VCC counselor entails more than filling out forms and informing the client of services available. The counselor also needs to be able to assess the clients emotional needs, life skills and employable capabilities. Testing may be required to gain accurate answers to these questions, but the client should always be treated with dignity without either being patronized or babied. No one said that being a successful caring counselor is easy, but it definitely is a useful rewarding vocation. It falls into the ethical category along with teaching and healing. In fact, shouldn't we consider it a combination of the two? Whether we have been blind since birth or been rendered blind by disease or accident, we must continually readjust our thinking, our life skills and our employability. Life does not stand still for anyone sighted or blind. Thus, we must constantly grow as we move on down the roadway of life. If we fail to do so, then we may just find ourselves piled up in a heap along the side of the road as life passes us by. We should be thankful that we do have agencies to provide us with the education and tools that we need to keep up our trek through life, even though we must do so in the dark. When we do encounter counselors who seem incapable of comprehending where we are emotionally, educationally and in our adjustment stage, we need to let them know that. If we don't know what it would take ourselves, we should tell them that too.

Congratulations for coming up with another "thought provoking” thought
Provoke. I'm one of those "massage therapists," but had no idea that it was a "stereotype" for us "out of sight" folks. I just love being in a profession which enables me to help others.”

Freda Trusty-Dotson (Pensacola Florida

**52. “In response 40. written by Luis Roman I posed a question and he has written back with an answer.

> FROM ME: "A very serious question- How can we best educate the consumer
to his or her rights within the rehab process?”

“This is where centers for independent living come into play. As there are over 500 centers through
out the United States they are a resource in that they work with people with disabilities in providing us all with information on what our rights are when it comes to Voc. rehab. Another resource would be that of what we call
in my area protection and advocacy. They as well will advocate on your
behalf when it comes to appealing those decisions made by Voc. rehab. I know there are people out there who don't have a clue as to what is available to them, I also know that no matter how much information is out there out there is always going to be a certain number of people who will fall through the cracks in one way or another. Maybe by people logging onto the National Centers for Independent Living Webb site is one way, this has
quite a number of centers listed. Also, protection and advocacy has a web site which I don't know the address, but maybe a start is logging onto the National Association Protection and Advocacy is another way. So is there
any perfect way? If there is I have not come across it yet.”

Luis Roman (East(Chicago, Indiana USA

“I'm going to be quite candid here and put all of my cards on the table. I
firmly believe that an articulate, disabled person who can identify their
needs is a valuable asset to a rehabilitation counselor. For instance, when
a counselor doesn't have experience with a particular disability, where
does his or her knowledge-base come from? Books? Research? Co-workers? A
supervisor? Maybe, but the majority of it comes from the client. Just
because a person is blind doesn't mean they can read -- or even prefer to
read -- Braille. They might prefer talking books or e-books. "But all blind
people read Braille." After all, that's what the book says! Someone with
low vision may not be able to read large print because of eye strain and
headaches. "But it's not typical..." or "A friend of mine says..." Forget
the research and majority rule. *What does the client say?*

Recognition should be given to persons who challenge themselves and others
in pursuit of their goals. It's extremely hypocritical that someone be
labeled "difficult" or "mal-adjusted" simply because they disagree with
their counselor or rehab plan.

Let's face it. Sometimes counselors don't know any more than their clients
do. It happens! For instance, one counselor of mine has never worked with
blind people before. Her experience with blindness was rather limited.
Being that I was her only blind client, I was more than willing to talk
about Braille, OCR's and guide dogs. Several years later, I lost my hearing
and went through the motions all over again. During this long and arduous
process, we gave each other something. I gave her knowledge and patience --
she gave me the world.

Don't just hear...listen.”

Lisa (deafblind list, Wisconsin USA)

**54. This is an interesting Thought Provoker. I would say that if rehab counselors would hand over control to their clients, progress would be made. After all,
we clients are the ones supposedly receiving these services, not the counselors. It seems that counselors too often go for the cheapest solution to a client's
unemployment, for example, and/or the self-serving interests of the rehab agency. I wish I could send this Thought Provoker and its responses to the VR
agency in Illinois, but I can't. Hopefully somebody out here is reading these. They could certainly use a little boost!

Jake Joehl, Illinois USA