September 12, 2011

Step by step forward through the scaling question

Guest post by Mirjam Fortuin, Pluryn

In the first four weeks of Intensive Family Treatment, a lot of information is collected. The family worker makes an appointment with each family member individually and asks what his/her goals are. They will be asked what they want to achieve with the help of Intensive Family Treatment. These goals are put on paper so that all family members, at the end of the first four weeks, will have their own goals (maximum 8). These goals are then read out loud to each other. This is usually a great moment because families which often only interact negatively, find out that they actually all want the same. This often brings them closer together. When setting the goals, with each goal the scaling question is asked. On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is the situation where nothing has been achieved and 10 is what you want to achieve with Intensive Family Treatment (T = target), where are you now (S = start score)? What would one step further look like?

For children, the scale of 1 to 10 can be difficult. But there are other ways. Usually, the scale is then divided into 3 parts. A red, an orange and a green part. Just like a traffic light. Another possibility is to draw an (imaginary) line on the ground and ask the child to ask to stand on that line.

After the first four weeks, the period of change starts. Family members work with the family worker in small steps trying to reach the goals. It is important that the steps are small so the family members experience immediate success and therefore will be more motivated to continue. After a few months the worker again makes an appointment with all the family members individually to ask where they stand on the scale (R = result). During a subsequent meeting with the staff of Intensive Family Treatment the focus will be on the steps forward. What is different now than a few months ago? How did you succeed? What has helped? What is still needed to reach that 10? A lot of compliments will be given. No emphasis on what is (still) not going well.

After the meeting, the family members keep on trying to reach the 10 in small steps. When Intensive Family Treatment is completed again family members are asked where they stand on the scale. Because of the scaling question and the focus on the progress and what is successful, parents (and children) feel good about themselves and what they have achieved. This motivates and activates. Family members feel stronger, more confident and positive. And that’s after all what you want .....

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