An excellent example of how a one-page profile can build confidence and self esteem; getting people to think about what is important in their life and the contribution they make to others. Ken’s story is a powerful reminder of how person-centred thinking can lead to big life changes.
Written by Ruth Hamm
Ken is a 71 year old man who has struggled with addictions in the past. Ken had lived in shelters or “couch surfed” for the past four years before he entered the Housing First program. I am his Case Manager.
Ken has two children and three grandchildren that have been present in his life throughout his homeless years, however the connection has not always been healthy or productive whilst he was frequently moving around.
Early on in working to support Ken in attaining and maintaining housing I noticed that he seemed to have a very negative view of himself and any contribution he brought to his family or this world. He felt that others should just live their lives as they wished and not concern or burden themselves with things that may matter to him. He brushed off the question “what is important to you?” saying that he was easy going and “it just didn’t matter”.
I was curious and wanted to get to know Ken better and help him see the kind, giving and gentle man that I saw when I spent time with him.
Ken and I worked through his one-page profile together over a few visits. We started by one day working on the positive/negative reputation exercise. In the time I had spent with Ken he had frequently stated his faults, however he shied away from speaking about things that he was good at. I had him list things that he felt people might say were negative about him. After he had listed several “negative reputation” characteristics, we went to work at looking at how each characteristic had a very positive attribute. I also added the things that I like and admire about Ken from the time we had spent together.
Over the course of a few more discussions I was able to draw things out in conversation that Ken would speak about more than once. I was then able to ask him if he found that particular thing important to him. He was surprised to discover that there were things that really mattered to him and were important to him.
When the one-page profile was completed, I presented it to Ken and asked him if he felt it accurately represented him. He was shy upon reading the “like & admire” section, however he said that it was all accurate and seemed to be proud of it. Ken posted the one-page profile on his fridge, and during a later visit to his home, he stated that his daughter had read it and thought it was a great idea.
The one-page profile showed Ken that he truly was worthy and valuable to his family. Since having been supported in finding housing and working through several person-centered tools, Ken has reconnected with a few of his family members and he has been able to set some healthy boundaries where needed. Ken is able to have his daughter over to his new home for coffee several times a week and he states that he is treasuring this renewed relationship with her.
Since his housing, and learning about what is “important to” him, Ken has opened himself up to various other opportunities such as taking a community course to learn how to use a computer, the internet and email. Ken also speaks of going out for coffee to the Legion to meet with “other old guys” as he calls them.
From my perspective, Ken has displayed a more positive outlook on life as well as a healthier self-esteem and self-image. He is much more willing to step out and try new things and meet new people. The amount of time he spends alone in his home is reduced and he enjoys having people around him.
Ken’s one-page profile was very beneficial in bringing Ken out of his shell and showing him how valuable he is to his children and grandchildren. Ken certainly has become a bit more outgoing and engages with those around him willingly and in a positive and healthy manner.