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Canadian Public Health Association

Do you support your clients in making informed decisions while acknowledging they are experts in their own lives?

  • A Core Competency in the Prevention of Sexually Transmitted and Blood-Borne Infections (STBBIs)

Marcella and Anand run a group counseling program for individuals with substance use problems. While Anand is very passionate about helping the participants, Marcella feels that he is sometimes too pushy and does not respect participants' autonomy. Marcella tries to discuss her concerns with Anand, telling him that rather than always promoting their agency's residential treatment program, he should acknowledge that participants are experts in their own lives and that the program may not be the best option for everyone.

Do you work in the area of sexual health or STBBI prevention and support? Are you able to support your clients in making decisions about their health while also acknowledging that they are experts in their own lives?

Use the questions below to help you self-assess your knowledge, skills, attitudes and practices related to supporting your clients in making informed decisions. Remember that depending on your role, you may require different levels of proficiency for the various core competencies and it is possible that some of the competencies are not relevant to your work.

  1. Do you recognize how your interactions and relationships with your clients can serve to either empower or impair their sense of autonomy?
  2. To ensure that your clients feel respected and in charge of their own health decisions, what are some of the principles and/or techniques that can be applied when offering information and support (e.g., active listening)?
  3. Do you take the time to listen to your clients, to understand their experiences and perspectives, and to offer information and support based on their individual needs and strengths?
  4. Do you refrain from making assumptions about your clients' health needs based on factors such as age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, education, and income?

Suggested resources:

This is one of a series of cases on the core competencies for STBBI prevention. View all 26 cases on the core competencies for STBBI prevention.

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