TIP: Service planning in group

Last week I delivered a training on service planning in Golden.  It was so great to see so many familiar faces there.  During the training the issue of having to update service plans in group came up, so I thought I would put down a few ideas about service planning in group on this blog.

Service planning is a collaborative process of exchange between the care/treatment team and client that focuses on identifying targets for change, generating steps and resources, and developing a plan that will increase the client’s success in meeting the mutually agreed upon goals.  A service plan is a dynamic document that provides a map about how to explore, develop and work with certain priorities that are incapacitating, or subtly sabotaging, the client from session to session.  It offers reference points that are usable by the counselor and client and provides a shared understanding about the direction of treatment.

Depending on the policies of the agency or schedule of treatment, treatment providers may have to develop or update service plans in a group setting.  Here are some ideas regarding individualizing service plan development in a group format:

Relevancy: Start by engaging the group in a discussion about the importance of setting goals.  This will help clarify the relevancy of the topic.  When the topic is not relevant, client lose interest, so establish relevancy immediately.  If it helps, have clients respond to some quotes on goals.  For example, some quotes that clients have positively responded to are:

  • Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible. Tony Robbins
  • Goals allow you to control the direction of change in your favor. Brian Tracy
  • I don’t focus on what I’m up against. I focus on my goals and I try to ignore the rest. Venus Williams
  • Set your goals high, and don’t stop till you get there. Bo Jackson

Foundation: Brainstorm examples of goals.  Ask clients about goals they have accomplished as well as what they want to accomplish.  Use these examples to teach treatment and non-treatment related goals, the difference between goals and steps, and the importance of having specific, measurable, attainable, relevant/realistic, and timely goals and steps.

Activity: Create an activity for the clients to complete their service plans.  Here are some examples:

Think, pair, share: provide clients five minutes to develop their plans individually (think), five minutes to share these with one other person (pair) for feedback and revision, and then ask the pairs to pair up so you have groups of four people and share their goals and steps (share).

Dyad work: Pair up group members to interview each other using open questions and reflections (skill practice) to complete service plans for each other using information gathered during the interview.  This is also helpful of you have group members who cannot read or write.

Group think: As a group, have clients shout out goals they are thinking about.  Write these on the board.  Then as a group brainstorm steps the clients could take to achieve these goals.  This activity is also helpful if no one (or very few people) in your group can write.

Summary: Bring the group back together to share insights and comments on the process.  Discuss barriers to meeting goals and supports they need from each other to remain accountable.  Be sure that you review all the service plans developed and that they are signed by the client.

Attending to service plan goals during group: One of the ways I remind clients and myself about their service plan goals is using “hello, my name is” stickers.  I ask clients to write on these stickers what their goal is, and to stick them on themselves.  That way not only can I see and keep track of their goals, I can also ask group members questions like:

  • As you look around the room at everyone’s goals, whose service plan goals are most related to the skill that we are talking about?
  • How does this topic we are talking about relate to your service plan goal?

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