Change Planning – Part V in our five-part series, “Practice Models 101″ …

For the most part, the use of case planning is a standard approach in corrections.  In this issue’s article we’ll explore change planning, a different approach to consolidating a client’s commitment into a tangible plan.

Whereas case planning is a formal written plan that usually takes place in one meeting with the client, change planning is a dynamic process that happens over time and is collaborative so that it fosters intrinsic rather than extrinsic motivation for the client.  Change planning is also commonly known to help the client build and reinforce constancy of purpose, clarify goals in such a way that creates a set of steps the client is likely to actually follow through with, and also frame the goals in such a way that the client can easily communicate them to family and friends for support.

A good way to learn about change planning is to compare it to the familiar approach of case planning

The key difference between case and change planning is that change planning is structured to strengthen the client’s motivation and ownership of goals and planning, and to foster that motivation from within, whereas case planning tends to focus the client on goals that the officer and system deem important based on criminogenic needs and risk factors.  Not to say that the latter are not important, but the power in change planning is that it strives to recognize what goals are most important and achievable according to the client and that are also mutually agreeable to the interviewer.  The client is then more likely to follow through because of this ownership and as a result address criminogenic behaviors anyway, but from his/her own unique approach.

In keeping with the theme of client ownership, change plans can be created in whatever form resonates most with the client – they may be written, verbal or some other form – whatever makes the most sense to the client.  Rather than being a planned, scheduled event driven by administrative deadlines as case planning often is, in change planning client and interviewer watch for moments when they jointly perceive there is an opportunity for planning.  As change planning is opportunistic and can happen multiple times throughout supervision, it builds on successes over time.  The open and creative nature of client and interviewer working together collaboratively also strengthens the client/interviewer relationship, rather than placing the interviewer in a more authoritarian and therefore distant relationship.

It’s not either/or – you can do a little bit of both

The great thing about change planning is that it does not have to replace case planning, but rather it serves as yet another tool to add into the mix.  Conventional case plans are particularly helpful when aimed toward probation or parole terms and conditions – when the client is really not motivated and is not likely to be motivated in the future.  On the other hand, when the client IS showing motivation for certain targets and the officer sees merit in those targets, they can work together in the change planning mode.  This opens the door to set up quick, low-grade change plans made up of immediate approximable action items that can be achieved from one month to the next and can be written up in progress notes.  Because change plans don’t need to go to a greater level of formality than that, they are easy to create, implement and adjust as needed.

The typical change planning process involves the four elements of 1) setting a goal or goals, then 2) sorting options for achieving the goal(s), then 3) formulating a plan with a sequence to it and 4) reinforcing commitment by finding support for that plan in the client’s family, community and networks.  Here is the link to our free downloadable paper Change Planning in Corrections click on the link and the paper will automatically download to your computer in Word doc format.  Check wherever your computer automatically stores downloads.

You can also Click Practice-Model to read our full academic “Practice Model” paper which discusses not only change planning, but the other practice model elements as well.

Or continue reading HERE about the fourth component: Cognitive Coaching in the previous edition of our newsletter.

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