Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Immersive Experience 1. Goals and Motivation

As an activity in our Facilitator Accelerator Program we were required to complete an experiential task which we called an analogous or immersive experience. This required us to spend a half day in a non-work environment. My interpretation of the exercise was to provide us with clarity on our roles as facilitators by paralleling what we do with another industry. We were expected to share our insights within our group to learn from others' experiences.

My immersive experience was an interview with Emma, a friend who is a Psychologist and a fellow AFL mum. We catch up most Sundays on the sidelines but this Sunday I had asked Emma if I could interview her. My aim was to gain an understanding of the alignment between the support services offered and techniques used by a Psychologist and what I do as a Facilitator, both in facilitation of learning programs and also understand how the techniques might be similar to workplace coaching.
I have broken the interview and my takeaways into 2 blog posts around
1. Goals & Motivation and 2. Questions.

1. Goals & Motivation

My first question to Emma was;
What do you call a session? 

Emma confirmed that it is most often referred to as a treatment or therapeutic session.  We discussed predominantly examples of individual one on one (therapist and client) sessions, however throughout the interview we also talked about group sessions which could include couples, families or groups (eg parenting classes - where the group has a commonality).


I was keen to understand how Emma approaches goal setting with clients.

Emma clarified that every session has its own goals, she reiterated the importance of clearly outlining the agenda at the commencement of a session, to ensure all parties are in agreement about the flow of the session. Each session would have goals to be achieved, and then there would be interim goals that the individual would work on post session and bring outcomes to the next session. We discussed the importance of making these interim goals achievable, particularly with children, to ensure an ongoing commitment to the therapy. Each session runs approximately 50 minutes and a client supported by Medicare would be entitled to 6 sessions however Emma pointed out that some clients require up to 10 or even 20 sessions. 

Long term goals are determined at an Initial assessment where it is important to gather an overall understanding of the individual's situation such a their history. The client must be actively involved in the formulation of where they are heading, what are their long term goals. These goals can change, so it is important to allow the goals to be really flexible, however generally the long term goal is an overarching goal(s), which will stay same as they are usually a life goal.

An important factor is to provide the client with the power to negotiate the goal, by doing this the therapist gets the client's buy in. During a session the therapist is reading body posture and tone of voice and will guide the client by pointing out what sounds important. If there is a key point that therapist sees as relevant they will prepare the client to discuss that in the next session. 

Emma raised my awareness to the fact that there are many regulations determining the actions of therapists not just ethically but also practically. Because the client is not in a position of power or authority the therapist must empower the client by gaining their agreement and empowering them to choose. Sometimes the psychologist, who is the powerful expert, needs to point out the pros, not cons, to engage the client therefore helping them understand the benefit of dealing with the difficult or challenging topics. It is easy to presume people think the same as you regarding the benefits of having therapy sessions. They may have a commitment to therapy but it can be a real challenge for people to keep putting themselves in a vulnerable position, they need to 'feel good' and achieve some sort of incremental or achievable goal to see progress which is the value for them. "The 'feeling good' is the motivator"

Interim goals must hold true in case the ultimate goal is not achieved or achievable.

There is one exception where the goal is not determined by the person receiving therapy and this is EAP workplace therapy. The organisation or workplace sets the goal as they are the paying client.


I questioned Emma about commitment to the goals

Emma raised the importance of understanding client motivation. Most of the time if the client is paying for the therapy they don't want to waste their time and they want to get value for the money that they have paid.

Emma gave the example of working with kids, you set up with an initial learning phase to ensure success. She used the example of a star chart for already successful achievements. "Find out what they can do successfully and build on this", which reminded me of what we would describe as strengths based coaching. 

Goal is something they never do, something they are striving for, but the first goal is something that they do 100% of time eg brushing their teeth in the morning when they have been asked once. Then the next is 75% of time eg once you have brushed your teeth you put your socks on. Emma pointed out that you can't have standard goals as each person is different, the goal(s) need to be suited for the individual client. It is important that the reward is set by the client. For adults the reward is about feeling good or successful achievement.

Emma raised the point "Don't set dead people goals"

I was fascinated by this point and she elaborated but also indicated that there is plenty of info online. An example of which is "I never want to feel threatened", "I never want our family to fight again". It is important to recognise that being human requires risk of feeling hurt or disappointed, part of therapy is to assist people to manage these feelings and the risk of them happening again, it is not realistic to expect that therapy will take away the problem or the risk.

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