Instructor responses to Week 3 homework (Wellness and Recovery Promotion)

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    Kristen Erickson

    Wellness and Recovery Promotion in Behavioral Health Services

    Week 3 Instructor Responses to the Homework

    Once again, I appreciate your thoughtful responses to the exercises and homework questions. Engaging with the exercises provides you with important insight into what might be helpful and not so helpful to consumers when they engage with them.

    1) What are your general reactions to this exercise of identifying wellness goals and taking action to achieve them?

    Most of your responses to this exercise were positive. For example, Amy wrote: “I appreciate the straight forward way the Recovery Wellness plan is set up to help someone easily consider different life areas, identify their most important goals, look at barriers and strengths, and to identify action steps and supports/community resources.” Stacy commented, “It puts in perspective the benefit of writing down goals as well as why there may be an inclination to avoid the act of writing them down.” And Robert commented, “It is helpful noting any potential supports and resources to assist in making the goal more realistic, attenable, and manageable.

    Amy pointed out the importance of identifying barriers, strengths, resources, and action steps to achieving each wellness goal: She wrote: “I know that I oftentimes make personal goals, but don’t take the time to identify the different topic areas and then wonder why I am not able to reach my goal. If I don’t consider the different topics within setting a goal like barriers, strength and action steps, my goals become more like wishful thinking. I also like that someone is invited to consider community resources. It makes sense. If a person was able to address a goal on their own, they probably would have.” Yes, that’s key. Breaking a goal down into small steps and identifying barriers, strengths, and resources is crucial to helping consumers meet their goals.

    JVillan commented on the priority rating scale component of the Recovery Wellness Plan: “I like that with the priority rating there’s an ability to identify which goals are the most important to address at this point in time and I think also with giving it a rating it allows me to think deeper into how much effort is warranted to develop meaningful action steps to achieve a certain goal.” Great awareness. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to write down goals in each life area. So prioritizing goals can not only help consumers reflect more deeply on the effort needed to take action steps, but can also give the message that consumers only need to take one goal at a time and not rush to try and meet all of their goals at once.

    This message is very much like the AA slogan “One Day at a Time.” In my own recovery journey this slogan was a great resource for me. It helped me stay more in the present instead of worrying about how I could stay sober for a week, month, or a year. Just one goal at a time and one day at a time takes the pressure off.

    2) What did you discover about how your strengths, supporters, and or community resources might help you overcome barriers to taking an action step or reaching your goal?

    Here is a sampling of some of the barriers you discovered:

    * I also tend to not ask for help and this was an opportunity to really look at the amount of people I have in my life to lean on, even when it makes me uncomfortable, to share the journey with me.

    * I downplay potential strengths and overstress potential barriers.

    Here is a sampling of some of the strengths and resources that you identified that might help you overcome barriers to taking action:

    * The next time I quit, I will use nicotine replacements patches to help minimize the physical cravings, as the physical cravings are a barrier to my stopping smoking.

    * I discovered that I have more strengths that I can tap into when identifying these particular steps.

    * If I could focus on creating manageable action steps, it would appear that I am chipping away at barriers and steadily reaching my goals.

    Stacy made an interesting comment about community supports: “Recognizing the array of supports available does not always Result in action. Readiness for change and maintaining self-awareness and self-care is often easier said than done in some instances. Utilizing community resources can be a barrier or a tool depending on the individuals comfort with utilizing available resources.” Excellent observation. Whenever a person is ambivalent about change taking any kind of action step, including engaging with community supports, can be challenging.

    When ambivalence is there help consumers explore that ambivalence and help them discover their own reasons for change. I point you to Motivational Interviewing for person-centered strategies for helping people resolve ambivalence about change. For example, before jumping into action, invite consumers to explore their own desire, ability, reasons, and need to change. In MI this is called evoking DARN change talk.

    3) What are some strategies you would employ to help consumers develop and implement their own wellness/recovery plans?

    Here are some of the strategies you mentioned to help consumers develop and implement their recovery plans:

    * I think that helping to break goal areas into smaller and more manageable steps would be key. Changing different life areas can be overwhelming so if the client can complete an action step it would enhance their self esteem and also show forward progress.

    * In terms of helping clients to identify their own recovery plans I think it’s super important to help them to see their strengths and the strengths of the support system around them.

    * Rarely do any of us respond well to be “told or strongly encouraged” to complete tasks by shame or guilt. The importance of being compassionate to real or perceived barriers and relaying this in how we engage in the process.

    * Some strategies would include making concrete action steps regardless of how small they may seem. Each success will make way for more success.

    * Make note of strengths and barriers and form a plan to utilize strengths and resources and to find ways to chip away at the barriers in order to overcome them.

    A Recovery Wellness Plan can be a wonderful tool to help consumers explore and organize their wellness goals. But like any other tool we use in our work, it should be adapted to each individual’s needs. And unlike a treatment plan, the Recovery Wellness Plan should be filled out by the consumer. Remember the consumer is in the center of the conversation. Your job is to help the consumer identify their wellness goals and support them in their efforts to take action to move forward in achieving those goals.

    For our fourth and final lesson we will explore the importance of active linkage to community-based resources.



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