OF CONSTRUCTIVE CHANGE
Some years ago I lent a friend of mine an excellent, though somewhat detailed, book on self-development. About 2 weeks later he came back, threw the book on my desk, and said, “Who would go through all of that!” I retorted, “Perhaps someone really interested in self-development.” That was the righteous, not the realistic, response. Planning in the real world seldom looks like planning in textbooks. Textbooks do provide useful frameworks, principles, and processes, but they are seldom implemented exactly as they are outlined. Most people are too impatient to do the kind of planning just outlined. One of the reasons for the dismal track record of discretionary change mentioned in Chapter 2 is that even when clients do set realistic goals, they lack the discipline to develop reasonable plans. The detailed work of planning is too burdensome.
Therefore, Stages II and III of the helping process together with their six tasks need a human face. If helpers skip the goal-setting and planning steps clients need, they shortchange them. On the other hand, if they are pedantic, mechanistic, or awkward in their attempts to help clients engage in these steps—failing to give these processes a human face—they run the risk of alienating the people they are trying to serve. Clients might well say, “I’m getting a lot of boring garbage from him.” Here, then, are some principles to guide the constructive-change process.