Strategies for motivating, supporting and encouraging the client
How do you employ strategies to motivate, support and encourage the client?
Employing strategies to motivate, support and encourage clients is one of the major requirements of support workers. This can sometimes be a challenge, especially when clients are in crisis or are feeling depressed and lack self-esteem.
There are a number of ways to support clients who need to be motivated, to make decisions for themselves, and to have the confidence to act on those decisions.
You can encourage clients by:
- asking them how they think a situation should be handled, rather than telling them how to handle it
- assisting them to think of options based on prior success in their individual situation, rather than options based on theory
- assisting them to select an option rather than telling them which one to choose.
You can support clients in this process by:
- encouraging them to reach a decision
- emphasising that they have reached a decision and now they need to act on it
- affirming their ability to make decisions and develop steps to reach their goals.
Supporting clients to be motivated and encouraging them to plan for themselves and develop strategies to reach their goals includes the following:
Adapted from McWhirter, EJ, McWhirter, BT, McWhirter, AM & McWhirter, EH, 1988, At-Risk Youth – A Comprehensive Response, 2nd edn, Brooks/Cole Publishing Co.
Good planning requires you to be able to research all the relevant information about the client and available options and resources open to the client in their particular circumstances.
The next requirement is to be able to identify all the tasks that need to be completed, who needs to complete those tasks and the timelines in which they need to be completed. Good planning then requires the ability to set goals that the client will commit to, agreed steps to reach those goals and clear indicators for the client to know when the goals have been achieved.
It is important that you obtain information for and from clients’ significant others regularly. Client feedback and others’ reports are a primary source of information that can help with ongoing planning and assessment. It is important to actively seek information. Do not wait for others to tell you. Ask questions or seek their views about events or processes that you know are significant. Listen carefully and demonstrate that you are interested in what they have to say.
People need regular feedback so that they know how they are going. Whether the feedback is positive or negative, it should be provided on a continuous basis. Do not wait until a formal review to discuss progress and provide feedback.
It is important to encourage and support clients in making decisions that are consistent with their case plan or court order if they have one. They need to meet the requirements set down by courts and others and, whilst you want to encourage them to make their own decisions, it is important that those decisions are within the boundaries of any conditions placed on them by authorities.
Offering or arranging practical help can support clients to move to the next stage of making decisions and setting goals for themselves. It is important not to overlook practical matters, for example, those associated with a client’s capacity to accept and access programs they are referred to. Attention to practical matters, such as cost of equipment or transport, can ensure that they are able to access programs and resources more easily and increase the chance of their success.
However, it is important in this process not to do things for clients that they can do for themselves. Encouraging dependency can disempower people, prolong intervention and set up failure.
Shifting the focus of your support from problem solving to solution building will support and encourage clients. Focusing on the clients' strengths and what is working in their situation empowers them to create more positively.
Focusing on constructive and positive outcomes motivates them to move towards change, rather than being immobilised by what is difficult in their lives.