This month we will be sharing training exercises- little things you can do that may change people’s thinking and understanding. At the end of the month we will offer a free e-book of training ideas.
Exercises to Help Staff Think about Promoting Change
The purpose of these exercises is to help the participants actively consider what they think helps people change. The most effective way to do this is by leading them to consider times when they have tried to change, and times when they have successfully changed. What makes a difference? What do they want from other people to support their change? What we are trying to teach staff to do for our kids and families is just what we want for ourselves.
A Time When You Changed
Ask participants to think of a time in their lives that they did successfully make a change- lose weight, quit smoking, etc. Ask for examples. What made it difficult? What made it possible? What started their change effort? What factors made it possible to make the change at that time? What helped? Ask about the role of other people and relationships in making the change- how did other people interfere or make it harder? How did they help?
Visit to a Restaurant
Taught as a participatory exercise.
Imagine you are on a diet, and are about to have dinner at a restaurant with a dear friend.
As you approach the restaurant, does it help to have your friend say: “Now remember your diet and be sure to make good choices.”
A full basket of warm, delicious bread and butter is placed on the table. What is helpful for your companion to do? Would you like him or her to say to the waiter: “No, we don’t want that?” Or move the bread to their side of the table? Or what?
Now you look at your menus. Would it be helpful for your friend to point out the low cal choices to you? What would be helpful?
If you mess up and over eat, what response to you want from your friend?
If you make healthy choices, what response?
Note that different people want different kinds of support. What patterns do you notice?
Cameras in Your Car
This exercise builds on the fact that we all have unhealthy methods of coping with stress, which we often need and cherish.
Again, a participatory discussion.
Do you ever experience excess stress from work? Think of a strategy that you use to cope with your work stress that is not ideally healthy or somethich you are proud of doing. Don’t worry, I won’t ask you what it is.
Now, would it be helpful if one of your co-workers explained to you in great detail what is wrong with what you are doing, how it hurts you, and how your life would be much better if you didn’t do this? No?
Luckily for you, your agency has just instituted a wonderful new program designed to help you change this behavior. The agency has purchased many little cameras which can be installed everywhere you go, in your house, your car, etc. And so, we can determine if you are doing this behavior. And we will give you an extra $100 in your paycheck every week that you do not do it. Unfortunately, we will also deduct $100 each week that you do do it.
Now, who wants to sign up?
(There are usually one or two people wo say yes, but most say no vehemently.)
Really? Why not? We are just trying to help you eliminate something you know is wrong.
First people say they don’t want that much invasion of their privacy (although this is just what we often do to our clients). However, they can also be led to say that they don’t want to give up their symptom- that they NEED to do this. Symptoms are adaptive.
Something You Could Not Do
Ask participants to think of something they wanted to learn and tried to learn and were UNABLE to master (such as tennis, knitting, anything that they tried but could not become good at). Ask for a couple of examples. Choose a volunteer to work through their example with you.
Luckily for you we have developed a behavior plan to help you learn this. We will pay you $100 if you just (give an example of executing their skill perfectly. I.e. if it were skiing, if you just ski down the moderate hill without falling.) If you insist on falling, however, you will have to stay in your room for the weekend.
Would this help?
Participant will say no.
Have we explained to you how much better your life would be if you just …. (i.e. skiied?) You would have more friends, etc, etc,
Well, since you are an unusually resistant client, your team has gotten together and decided to amend the plan. We will give you $200 if you do the skill. Unfortunately, if you refuse to do it, you will be punished for two weeks.
Will this help? (Participant says NO). In fact, it might make it harder, because now s/he feels all this pressure.
Right now, this person feels s/he could never do the skill (as our clients do). What would she actually need to get better at this?
Answer: patient, kind, nonjudgemental teaching of all the small skills that go into this larger skill.
For an e-book of Twenty Short Training Exercises, click here:
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