The Helping Process


The Helping Process

Three phases of the helping process:
Phase 1:  Exploration, engagement, assessment, and planning
Phase 2:  Implementation and goal attainment
Phase 3:  Termination 

Phase IExploring, engaging, assessing, and planning

Phase I is helpful in any setting and lays the groundwork for subsequent application of interventions and strategies for resolving clients’ problems and promotes problem-solving skills

Processes involved and tasks to be completed during Phase I:

1.  Exploring clients’ problems by eliciting comprehensive data about the person/person, the presenting problem, and environmental factors 

    -What circumstances brought the client?

    -Is the client mandated?

    -Give a brief description of your view on the purpose of the client's visit and and aks how you can be of help

2.  Establish rapport and increase motivation

-Having effective communication skills is crucial- you must be able to engage the client

-Establishing rapport will help client feel less intimidated by the process as well as to acquire client’s trust; nonjudgmental attitude, acceptance, respect or client’s right of self-determination, respect of client’s worth and dignity,

-Client must perceive you as understanding and genuinely interested in their well-being.

-Cultural factors should always be considered when implementing interviewing techniques

-Involuntary clients can be resistant-your interaction with the client can help motivate and influence

-Acknowledge clients problem and recognize their motivation to work towards a solution

-Establish expectations of the helping process

3.  Formulate a multidimensional assessment of the problem, identifying the systems that play a significant role in the difficulties and identifying relevant resources that can be utilized or must be developed

-Continue to establish rapport while exploring client’s problems

-Exploration of the problem is a critical process

-While exploring, attend to emotions and immediate concerns

-Gather information of the individual client, interpersonal and environmental

-Recognize client’s strengths (these can be tapped into during the goal attainment phase)

-Formulate a working assessment from which the goals and contract upon which Phase II of the problem-solving process is based

        -An adequate assessment includes analysis of the problem, the person, and the ecological context

-  Analysis of the individuals system includes assessment of the client’s wants and needs, coping strategies, strengths and limitations, and motivation to work on the problem

        -The factors to assess, which are critical in selecting appropriate and attainable goals, are:  flexibility, judgment, emotional characteristics, degree of responsibility, capacity to tolerate stress, ability to reason critically and interpersonal skills

-Assessment of ecological factors involves consideration of the adequacy or deficiency, success or failure, and strengths or weakness of salient systems in the environment that bear on the client’s problem

        -This assessment aims to identify systems that must be strengthened, mobilized, or developed to satisfy the client’s unmet needs

        -Some of the systems that affect client’s needs include couple, family, and social support systems , spiritual beliefs, child care, health care, employment systems, various institutions, and the physical environment

        -Cultural factors should also be taken into consideration

        -Keep in mind larger systems and the properties of these such as power, rules, norms etc

-Remember that individual difficulties tend to be related to systematic difficulties so interventions should be directed towards both the system and the individual

-Assessment focuses on the style of communication employed by individual participants, interactional patterns among members, and the impact of individual members on process that occur in the system. These factors are weighed when selecting interventions intended to enhance functioning at these different levels of the larger systems

Note:  Problem exploration skill are used during the assessment process that begins with the first contact with clients and continues throughout the helping relationship

4. Mutually negotiating goals to be accomplished in remedying or alleviating the problem and formulating a contract

-This process aims to recognize what needs to be changed and what related actions need to be taken to resolve or improve the situation

-Formulating a contract is a vital process because it demystifies the helping process and clarifies for clients what they may expect from the relationship and what is expected of them

-The solution-focused approach takes the position that goals are central when working with clients

-By focusing on goals as perceived by clients, an empowering momentum may be created

-Exploration of clients problems often reveals that resources or services that are not provided by the agency may need to be utilized.

Phase II: Implementation and Goal Attainment

1. Also known as the action-oriented or change-oriented phase, this phase involves explaining the plans formulated together by you and your client.

- The process begins with dividing the goal into general tasks that identify general strategies to be employed in pursuit of the goal

- These tasks are then divided into specific tasks that designate what the client and social worker plan to do between each of the sessions.

-after formulating goals with the client, you select and implement interventions designed to assist the client in accomplishing the goals set forth

-interventions should relate to the problems that were identified and the goals that were designated

 2. Enhancing self-efficacy

-The helping process is greatly enhanced when clients experience an increased sense of self-efficacy

        - Self-efficacy is when it is believed that they can successfully accomplish a task or perform behaviors associated with their goals

-Help clients become aware of their strengths and recognize incremental progress of clients towards their goal attainment

 3. Monitor Progress

 -Monitoring progress is important for several reasons:

        -Evaluating the effectiveness of change strategies and interventions (for third-party payers and implementing interventions that are based on evidence based practices) 

-To guide client’s efforts toward goal attainment

            -Evaluating their progress towards their goals enhances endurance of focus and efforts and promotes efficient use of time

-To keep abreast of client’s reactions to progress or lack of

            -When clients do not feel that they have progressed they may become discouraged and lose confidence

-To concentrate on goal attainment and evaluate progress

4.  Barriers to Goal Accomplishment

-Progress rarely will go smoothly
-Clients typically encounter obstacles and experience anxiety, fears, and frustration

-Others involved with the client may undermine the client’s efforts to change by being opposed to the changes, ridiculing, or by making change even more difficult

             -for this reason, it is important to involve significant others in the problem-solving process

-You need to be aware of the challenges your client may face and assist them to overcome these challenges

-Other barriers are personality factors, problematic behaviors, and obstructions within the family’s environment

-Finally, there are barriers in regards to denial of services by organizations, or policies and procedures that restrict client’s access to resources

5. Relational Reactions

- Working with your client may create emotions for each of you, hamper the helping process and create difficulty towards goal attainment

-Clients may have unrealistic expectations or misperceive your intentions

        -this may cause disappointment, discouragement, hurt, anger, rejection, and other emotional reactions and hamper the helping process

-In addition, couples, parents, and other group members may experience relational reactions to other members resulting in problems while they are interacting

        - These reactions reflect maladaptive attitudes and beliefs learned from relationships with parents or significant others

-Make sure that you explore and resolve these relational reactions

-Finally, make sure you are aware of your own relational reactions and how to manage them

6.  Enhancing Client’s Self-Awareness

-During the helping process, clients will experience a wide variety of emotions from confusion, anger, and being overwhelmed

        -Though at these times you may veer from goal attainment activities, this is also a time that clients have an opportunity for growth in self-awareness

-You can facilitate the process of self-discovery by employing additive empathic responses (discussed in chapter 17) during the goal attainment phase

        -These can be applied both in individual and group sessions

-Additive responses are particularly helpful with clients who wish to get in touch with their emotions and wish to express their feelings to significant others

-Confrontation is another technique used to foster self-awareness

-Confrontation helps clients become aware of growth-defeating inconsistencies in perceptions, feelings, communications, behavior, values and attitudes, and then examine these discrepancies in relations to stated goals.

7. Use of Self

-Throughout the helping process, you will increasingly use yourself as a tool to facilitate growth and accomplishment         

-Relating and disclosing feelings, views, and experiences ensure that clients believe that you are genuine, open and authentic

-By modeling authentic behavior, you encourage clients to reciprocate by risking authentic behavior themselves

        -By doing so, they will achieve significant growth in self-realization and in interpersonal relations

-Assertiveness should be used when problematic behaviors impinge on the relationship or impede progress

Phase III: Termination

The terminal phase includes three major aspects:

1.  Assessing when client goals have been satisfactorily attained

-You may develop specific indicators of goal achievement (discussed in chapter 12)

-Termination may be based off these indicators  

2. Helping the client develop strategies that maintain change and continue growth following termination

-After termination many clients relapse or regress to their previous level of functioning
3. Successfully terminating the helping relationship

-Termination may produce mixed feelings for both you and the client

-If you have had an extensive period of time with your client, they may have a sense of attachment

 -Try to have follow-up sessions to evaluate results and to facilitate the termination process by indication the social workers continuing interest in clients

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