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Facilitating Change Through Decision Making

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1 Facilitating Change Through Decision Making
Chapter 7

2 Elements of the Planned Change Process
In social work, the thoughtful and planned efforts to bring about a specific change are called interventions. They are designed to alter some specified condition, pattern of behavior, or a set of circumstances that affects social functioning. Planned change is accurately described as a process: a planned series of actions directed toward a specific end.

3 Elements of the Planned Change Process
Given the complexity of change, change efforts can easily come apart and movement toward a goal can easily be derailed. Change efforts must be painstakingly assembled and built little by little, piece by piece. They must be constantly supported, nurtured, restarted, repaired, and rebuilt.

4 Elements of the Planned Change Process
An intervention will usually have both expected and unexpected outcomes. Change – even if wanted and planned – is often difficult and frustrating. Some degree of conflict, accompanied by emotion, can be expected during periods of change. Change may provoke personal turmoil and discord between the people and groups affected by the change.

5 Elements of the Planned Change Process
Resistance to change is also a characteristic of humans and their social systems. People tend toward preserving the status quo. Closely related to resistance is ambivalence, which is a condition of both wanting and not wanting a particular change. The social worker must be alert to the forces of ambivalence and, when necessary, assist the client in working through this block to decision making and action.

6 Elements of the Planned Change Process
Helping clients sort through their perceptions of the risks and rewards associated with change is another important social work activity. If the potential rewards far outweigh the risks, most clients will attempt the change. Success in making change is largely a function of the client’s motivation to change, capacity for change, and opportunity to change. Motivation, which can be viewed as a state of readiness to take action, consists of the pull of hope and the push of discomfort.

7 Elements of the Planned Change Process
Change requires a balance between hope and discomfort. If people have hope but no real discomfort, they tend to give up when they encounter the stress and conflict associated with making change. If they feel discomfort but have no hope they will see little reason to work at changing what they perceive as unchangeable. A client can be highly motivated toward one action while having little or no motivation toward another.

8 Elements of the Planned Change Process
A meaningful and useful description of a client’s motivation must be tied to some specified goal or action rather than being viewed as a personal trait or characteristic. Capacity can be thought of as the various abilities and resources that clients or other people in the client’s environment bring to the change process.

9 Elements of the Planned Change Process
These capacities include time, energy, knowledge, experience, self-discipline, optimism, self-confidence, communication skills, problem-solving skills, money, political power, and so on. Different types of change require different types and combinations of capacity.

10 Elements of the Planned Change Process
Change further requires opportunity: various conditions and circumstances within the client’s immediate environment that invite and support positive change. Some environmental factors encourage change while others are barriers to change.

11 Elements of the Planned Change Process
When a social worker becomes involved in the change process as a facilitator of planned change, they bring professional resources and knowledge to the client’s motivation, capacities, and opportunities. The role of the social worker in helping people make change can be conceptualized as taking action and applying knowledge and skills designed to increase motivation, expand capacity, and create or uncover opportunities for change.

12 The Context of Planned Change
Whether the social worker’s client is an individual, a family, a group, an organization, or a community, the client’s concern or problem always exists within a wider context. A multitude of social, economic, cultural, legal and political factors are known to affect client functioning in some way and to some degree.

13 The Context of Planned Change
Reality demands that the client and social worker narrow their focus and zero in on those aspects of the total situation that can be changed, given the client’s motivation, capacity, and opportunity, and the resources that the social worker can bring to bear on the situation.

14 The Context of Planned Change
The term client situation is used to describe that segment of the client’s total existence, experience, and circumstances that are the focus of the planned change effort. The observed situation is the client’s situation as observed by people in the client’s environment and perhaps described by professionals using commonly understood terminology, categories, and classifications.

15 The Context of Planned Change
The perceived situation is the situation as it is felt by and uniquely interpreted and subjectively constructed by the client. The situation as perceived by the client may be significantly different from the client’s situation as understood and interpreted by the social worker and others in the client’s environment.

16 The Context of Planned Change
The importance of the client’s perceived situation to the change process is recognized in the social work axiom, “Start where the client is.” It is necessary for the worker to understand the client’s concern and situation from the client’s perceptions and subjective interpretations and consider their implications for facilitating change. It is this element of subjectiveness that makes it so difficult to predict how clients will respond to a given intervention.

17 The Context of Planned Change
The concept of the social work practice situation encompasses both the client situation and the contextual factors that determine the worker’s decisions and actions. What the worker does is shaped by agency purpose, policy and procedure, practice frameworks and the worker’s skill, workload, and commitment to social work values and ethics.

18 The Context of Planned Change
Guidelines for social work practice: The social worker must give primary attention to the client’s problem or concern as it is defined, perceived, and experienced by the client. The worker must focus primarily on those aspects of the situation and the client’s environment that most immediately and directly affect the client.

19 The Context of Planned Change
Guidelines for social work practice: The intervention must address those aspects of the situation over which the client and/or the worker have some control and influence. The social worker must recognize the multitude of forces pushing and pulling on the client but understand that the actual impact of those forces is at least partially dependent on the client’s subjective interpretation.

20 The Context of Planned Change
Guidelines for social work practice: The worker must be prepared to intervene at one or more levels depending on the nature of the client’s concern, the client’s interpretation of the situation, what the client wants to do about it, and what the client can reasonably expect to be able to do about it. The worker must be prepared to use a variety of techniques, approaches, and services since whatever is done must make sense to the client, given their perceptions and interpretations of reality.

21 Factors Affecting the Client’s Need for Change
Individual Change: To cope with a crisis (old patterns no longer work and the individual is pushed by circumstances to develop new ways of functioning). To better cope with physical or emotional pain or illness or physical limitations. To adjust to changes that have occurred within family, work, or school environments and life circumstances.

22 Factors Affecting the Client’s Need for Change
Individual Change: To learn more effective and more socially acceptable ways of behaving and coping with responsibilities and problems. To resolve uncomfortable dissonance between one’s values and one’s behavior.

23 Factors Affecting a Client’s Need for Change
Family and Group Change: To adapt to the addition or loss of members, necessitating new patterns of communication, decision making, daily routines, and so on. To cope with the changes made by other individuals or subgroups within the system. To adapt to changing social and economic realities.

24 Factors Affecting the Client’s Need for Change
Organizational Change: To bring the organization’s accomplishments more in line with its stated mission and goals. To make better use of personnel. To introduce new technology. To adapt to increases or decreases in fiscal resources. To respond to powerful external factors.

25 Factors Affecting the Client’s Need for Change
Community Change: To adjust to shifts in demographics. To adapt to changes in the economic base of the community. To cope with shifts in dominant values, political climate, and political power. To cope with changes in personal interaction and travel patterns caused by such factors as relocation of highways, zoning changes, new housing developments To respond to a crisis (flood, earthquakes, riots).

26 Identifying the Actors in Planned Change
Change agent system: The social worker and the worker’s agency. Client system: The person, group, or organization who has requested the social worker’s or agency’s services and expects to benefit from what the worker does. Target system: The person, group, or organization that needs to change and is targeted for change in order for the client to benefit from the intervention . Action system: All the people, groups and organizations that the change agent system works with or through in order to influence the target system and help the client system to achieve the desired outcome.

27 Phases of the Planned Change Process
An intervention or a planned change typically moves through several sequential phases, with each phase building on previous ones. If the social worker is to guide the change process, they must become an expert regarding the tasks that must be accomplished at each phase.

28 Phases of the Planned Change Process
Phases of planned change: Identify, define, and describe the client’s concern, troublesome situation, or problem. Collect additional data needed to better understand the client’s concern or situation and its context. Assess and analyze the concern and situation and decide what needs to change, what can be changed, and how it might be changed.

29 Phases of the Planned Change Process
Phases (continue): Identify and agree upon the goals and objectives to be achieved by the process of planned change. Formulate a relevant and realistic plan for reaching the goals and objectives. Take action based on the plan Monitor progress of the intervention and determine if it is achieving the desired outcomes and if not, modify the plan and try again. Once goals and objectives have been reached, terminate the intervention and evaluate the change process.

30 Phases of the Planned Change Process
Change rarely proceeds in an orderly fashion; rather, it is more of a spiral, with frequent returns to prior phases for clarification or a reworking of various tasks and activities. It is helpful to be clear about where the client is in the process of change, because the worker draws on somewhat different techniques to accomplish the tasks of each phase. What is helpful in one phase might be ineffective or even counterproductive in another.

31 Critical Thinking in Planned Change
The social worker’s skill of critical thinking are essential to guiding the process of planned change. Critical thinking involves consciously thinking about how we do our thinking. The critical thinker adheres to principles of logic and is alert to the many tendencies and foibles that arise to erroneous and superficial thinking.

32 Critical Thinking in Planned Change
Skills of critical thinking include: Clarifying and defining key terms and concepts and using them in a consistent manner. Determining the credibility of an information source. Differentiating relevant from irrelevant information. Distinguishing between verifiable and unverifiable claims and statements.

33 Critical Thinking in Planned Change
Skills of critical thinking (continue): Checking the accuracy of a statement or claim. Recognizing proper and improper use of statistics. Separating thoughts and logic from emotions and feelings. Identifying biased, ambiguous, irrelevant and deceptive arguments.

34 Critical Thinking in Planned Change
Skills of critical thinking (continue): Recognizing logical fallacies and inconsistencies in an argument or line of reasoning. Reaching conclusions about the overall strength of an argument or conclusion. Critical thinking requires self-discipline. It requires that one takes charge of their mental processes.

35 Critical Thinking of Planned Change
Critical thinkers are honest with themselves, acknowledge what they do not know, recognize their limitations, and are watchful for errors in their own thinking. Critical thinkers strive for understanding, remain patient in the face of complexity, are willing to invest the time needed to get the facts, and carefully analyze an issue in order to achieve clarification and overcome their confusion.

36 Critical Thinking of Planned Change
Critical thinkers set aside personal preferences and base their judgment on evidence, defer judgment whenever evidence is insufficient, and revise their judgments and conclusions when new evidence reveals a need to do so. Critical thinkers are genuinely interested in ideas, and they read and listen attentively, even when they disagree with what others are saying.

37 Critical Thinking of Planned Change
Critical thinkers recognize that extreme views (whether conservative or liberal) are seldom correct, and they seek a balanced view. Critical thinkers practice self-discipline, control their feelings rather than being controlled by them, and think before acting.

38 Critical Thinking in Planned Change
Unclear and uncritical thinking results in two types of errors: Believing something is true when it is false. Believing something is false when it is true. Wisdom suggests that it is best to define truth in terms of probability. A truth is a statement that has a high probability of being accurate and for which there is currently insufficient reason to challenge or doubt.

39 Critical Thinking in Planned Change
A critical thinker recognizes that all ideas are essentially human inventions. They are mental and social constructions that attempt to describe and explain perceptions and understandings at a given point in time. The critical thinker understands that our perceptions and ways of understanding are always incomplete and likely to shift as we have new experiences, acquire more information, and experiment with new ways of interpretation.

40 Critical Thinking in Planned Change
Critical thinking requires an ability to distinguish between a fact, an assumption, an opinion, and a value. A fact is a statement of what is or of what happened that can be independently verified by empirical means. An assumption is an idea that is taken for granted or presumed for the sake of making an argument but is recognized as possibly untrue or inaccurate.

41 Critical Thinking in Planned Change
An opinion puts forward one particular interpretation or viewpoint when it is understood that other credible interpretations are also possible. A value is a strongly held belief concerning what is truly worthwhile, right or wrong, and the way things are supposed to be. It is also useful to distinguish between information, knowledge, and wisdom.

42 Critical Thinking in Planned Change
Information refers to a more or less random collection of concepts, facts and opinions. Knowledge refers to an orderly and coherent arrangement of relevant and trustworthy information related to a specific topic. Wisdom refers to a higher level of knowledge that has a truly lasting quality.

43 Critical Thinking in Planned Change
These distinctions help us realize that a person can possess much information but lack real knowledge. Also, a person can be very knowledgeable on a topic but lack wisdom. The critical thinker is aware of their capacity for self-deception. We believe what we want to believe and what is convenient and comfortable for us to believe.

44 Critical Thinking in Planned Change
Another aspect of our capacity for self-deception is our tendency to find what we are looking for, whether or not it is really there. We tend to look harder for evidence that supports our views than for evidence that refutes it. Human are quite suggestible and we often mistake our feelings and emotions for thought and logic.

45 Critical Thinking in Planned Change
An important dynamic giving rise to uncritical thinking is our desire to be right and to have others believe we are right. That is why people become defensive when their beliefs are questioned. The more fragile the self-esteem, the more likely we are threatened by new ideas; the more likely we are also to uncritically accept ideas proposed by others.

46 Decision Making in Planned Change
Decision making is the activity of consciously choosing among available options. A social worker must be able to make difficult decisions and do so with a conscious awareness of the logic being used. Conclusions and decisions should be based on solid evidence.

47 Decision Making in Planned Change
Evidence refers to objects or information presented to the human senses for the purpose of supporting or refuting a particular argument. Powerful evidence consists of relevant and reliable facts and figures, unbiased observations and logical arguments. Examples of weak evidence are opinions, hearsay, and statements offered by people who have an “axe to grind” or something to gain personally from the outcome.

48 Decision Making in Planned Change
Tendencies that can give rise to bad decisions: Tendency to pay most attention to information that one finds interesting, dramatic, or exciting. Tendency to reject or overlook information that conflicts with one’s own beliefs, feelings, preconceived notions, and personal values. Tendency to assign greatest value to that information with which one is most familiar and finds easiest to grasp and understand.

49 Decision Making in Planned Change
Tendencies of bad decisions (continue): Tendency to assign greatest value to information that was either the first or the most recently heard on the topic. Tendency to assign greatest value to information that is easiest to obtain and to disregard or devalue information that would be more difficult to obtain.

50 Decision Making in Planned Change
When faced with an especially difficult decision, the social worker should seek consultation and advice from experienced and informed colleagues and recognized experts. “Many heads are better than one”. The social worker must be aware of the phenomena termed group-think, tendency to accept or reject a certain choice or option because of how others in one’s group, agency or profession think about the issue.

51 Decision Making in Planned Change
A common error in decision making is to overlook some of the available options. It is important to consider seriously all possible alternatives before making a decision. All too often, decisions are made for the purpose of justifying a past action or prior decision. When making a decision, one should give priority to the present situation and to current arguments and data.

52 Decision Making in Planned Change
When faced with complexity and uncertainty, humans are inclined to oversimplify the question or issue with which they are struggling in order to feel more secure and less anxious. It is important to guard against being pushed into a premature decision by the pressure of time. Decisions made in haste can result in additional problems and cause harm.

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