Ignorant - Informed - Overwhelmed
For years, my kids shrieked at automatic-flushing toilets. They still get unnerved when they hear the "click." I don't like that sound either. There is something unsettling about anticipating the noise - or the flush, but not knowing exactly when it will happen.
No one enjoys the unknown. Clients are no different. They do better when they know what to expect and when to expect it. On an episode of "Grey's Anatomy," a young patient is wreaking havoc on the staff. His parents and doctors are handling him with kid gloves, thinking they are doing him a favor by keeping him in the dark. George O'Malley saves the day when he explains the details of the surgery to the boy. Then he offers to take the young man into an operating room so he can further demystify the process. The boys' parents and doctors are amazed at how the patient's disposition changes with this information. George remarks, "I think we just do better when we understand the way something works."
With all aspects of life, explanations require moderation. There is a balance to walk between ignorance and information overload. As clinicians we need to gauge how much information we provide.
As consumers, we need to balance this as well. With the Internet there is an abundance of information; not all of it accurate. Not only do we need to be discerning about what information we view, but also recognize when we've crossed the line from informed to overwhelmed.
How do you decide how much information to provide your clients? What clues do you look for that let you know they are getting overwhelmed?