HELP CLIENTS MOVE FROM PLANNING TO ACTION: PRINCIPLES OF EFFECTIVE IMPLEMENTATION
When it comes to client action, Norcross, Krebs, and Prochaska (2011) urge caution: “Beware treating all patients as though they are in action” (p. 294) because most arrive not ready for action. This causes a dilemma because the sooner clients begin to act on their own behalf the more likely are they to succeed. Your job is to help clients bridge this gap. But, as Johancen-Walt (2010) notes, progress in therapy is often an “accumulation of small changes, plateaus, and regressions” (p. 50) and patience on the part of both client and helper is essential.
In the implementation phase, strategies for accomplishing goals need to be complemented by tactics and logistics. A strategy is a practical plan or program to accomplish some objective. Tactics is the art of adapting a plan to the immediate situation. This includes being able to change the plan on the spot to handle unforeseen complications. Logistics is the art of being able to provide the resources needed for the implementation of a plan in a timely way. Here is a simple case illustrating all three.
During the summer, Rebecca wanted to take an evening course in statistics so that the first semester of the following school year would be lighter. Having more time would enable her to act in one of the school plays, a high priority for her. But she didn’t have the money to pay for the course, and at the university she planned to attend prepayment for summer courses was the rule. Rebecca had counted on paying for the course from her summer earnings, but she would not have the money until later. Consequently, she did some quick shopping around and found that the same course was being offered by a community college not too far from where she lived. Her tuition there was minimal, because she was a resident of the area the college served.
In this example, Rebecca keeps to her overall plan (strategy). However, in light of an unforeseen circumstance, the demand for prepayment, she adapts her plan (a tactic) by locating another resource (logistics). Because many well-meaning and motivated clients are simply not good tacticians and are not good at finding the resources they need, counselors can add value by using the following principles to help them engage in focused and sustained goal-accomplishing action.