Four Requisites for
Effective Human Service
Do you have them?
By Peter K.
Web address of this article is http://sfhelp.org/pro/req/requisites.htm
September 30, 2015
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Typical divorcing families and stepfamilies are complex,
client systems. From
study and clinical experience, I propose that therapists, counselors,
supervisors, case managers, and consultants ("clinicians") need
four things for
long-term clinical outcomes with these clients:
This series of Web pages explores each of these requisites.
1) Special Didactic and Experiential Knowledge
this model and these clients, typical clinicians need knowledge beyond what they got in their professional
training. They (you) probably will have to learn this knowledge
through self-improvement and experiential learning, because effective formal
training in these subjects appears to be rare.
This nonprofit Web site offers basic information on these requisite
topics, based on several decades of professional research and
principles, as applied to client and
assessment and interventions.
This includes knowledge of normal personal and family developmental
understanding what causes and blocks
first-order and second-order systemic
and how this relates to clinical assessment and intervention;
developmental needs of
typical minor kids, and how to
assess kids' status on
(a) them, and (b) up to 30 common
family-adjustment needs when parents separate
and divorce, and start or join a stepfamily;
developmental stages, and how they shape typical adults' and kids'
priorities and current primary needs;
and how to
the level of any family, starting with yours;
understand the [wounds + unawareness]
and how it affects human personality formation, composition,
and functioning; psychological
(broken bonds), and how to use a three-level model of
for blocked grief and
free it up;
and to (b) facilitate clients forming a
between divorcing and stepfamily co-parents, and how empower clients to reduce them;
developmental phases, and
and how to
and facilitate high nurturance levels in typical client families;
clinical options for identifying and
empowering clients to resolve common family
and relationship problems like
some version of this
three-level concept; and...
special knowledge of the
therapeutic process with these
complex, multi-problem clients, including the use of healthy
to sense what you need to learn about these topics. Then study (a) this
curriculum over time to increase
your knowledge, and/or (b) invest in these
guidebooks, and/or (c) review
the assessment and
to see required didactic and
knowledge and skills.
Clinicians need to use their knowledge of all these topics to
assess these complex
client systems and intervene
effectively. Learning the
mosaic of these topics and how to apply them effectively can form the framework
of a self-improvement curriculum and a productive in-service program.
Requisite 2) Key Personal Traits
Typical clinicians using this model need three personal traits to apply their growing
knowledge of the topics above effectively with trauma-recoverers
and low-nurturance families:
trait can be intentionally developed over time, within the clinician's limits.
Here's some perspective on each trait:
Trait 1: Ongoing
would you define awareness to an average 11-year-old? Compared to the
awareness practiced by veteran Zen students, average adults in our
over-stimulated, hyperactive culture are largely
of themselves and their environment. This is a fundamental stressor in all
low-nurturance families and organizations. One reason clients seek clinical
help is because (Self-led) professionals are more aware than they
are, and can facilitate their "in-sight."
Premise - most (all?) adults and kids have a constantly active
subself. Like a competent news reporter or scientist, its innate talents are
be steadily, objectively aware of
inner and outer environmental realities and dynamics now and over time; and to...
them clearly and accurately without interpretation to other
so they can decide what to do next.
Options - (a) use
to guide this
talented subself toward improved self and
environmental present-moment awareness, and (b) teach receptive clients to
do the same.
"Self awareness" has several components: thoughts + emotions + "senses" +
bodily sensations + needs + inner-family composition and dynamics +
active-subself attitudes and priorities. Awareness of these dynamic, concurrent
variables can focus on (a) the present moment and on (b) patterns in them over time
(patterns and "habits").
Experiment with this
to help build your personal awareness, and consider modeling and teaching it to
family-members, clients, and
colleagues. Undistracted journaling, meditation, professional massage,
retreats in natural settings, and reflective movement like Tai Chi help to
evolve nonjudgmental awareness of current thoughts, feelings, needs, and
sensory information. The core
requisite here is for clinicians' ruling subselves to want to develop their levels of
17 years' study and personal and clinical experience, a core premise in this
clinical model is that normal (vs. "pathological") personalities are composed of
talented, dynamic subselves or "parts," like members of an
orchestra or sports team. Subselves range at any moment from inactive to
active, and cause our thoughts, emotions, needs, senses, some bodily
reactions, and most non-autonomic behaviors.
A crucial variable for clinicians
and each client is which subselves
this "inner family" situationally and over time - the
and their well-meaning
clinicians understand, validate, and accept the inner-family concept, they need to (a) evolve an accurate
subselves, and (b) intentionally
develop habitual awareness of which subselves are guiding their personality
in and out of client sessions.
For an initial sense of who's leading your personality subselves recently,
meditate on this and
For a more thorough exploration, study this
presentation, follow the links
here, and invest
you're skeptical about the concept, read my
letter to you, and try this
safe, interesting exercise.
make this essential awareness requisite less abstract, meditate on
which of these best describes you now: T(rue), F(alse), or ? [I'm not sure, or it depends on (what?)]
I feel well-grounded in
the idea of normal personality subselves now, and how they "behave"
or I am highly motivated to learn more about this and how
to apply it now. (T F ?)
I'm usually clear on
determines my personal and professional
goals, values, and behaviors, or I'm proactively working
to become clear on this now. (T F ?)
I'm skilled at
whether clients and colleagues are controlled by false selves now,
or I'm making significant progress at acquiring
and practicing this vital skill. (T F ?)
I'm presently (a)
comfortable with, and (b) fluent at describing, the six false-self
this site proposes as being a primary cause of personal, family, and
societal "problems;" or I'm proactively working to
become more comfortable and fluent with these wounds.
(T F ?)
Because of the core impact of
personality subselves on clinical dynamics, I believe that clinicians
need to be comfortable with and adept at providing intrapsychic
(individual) + dyadic + and family therapy to their clients for best
outcomes. (T F ?)
If these traits don't describe
my co-workers and professional colleagues now,
I'm strongly motivated to
encourage them to evaluate the
[wounds + ignorance]
to our ourselves, our families, our clients, our profession, and our
society. (T F ?)
I'm confidant that my
true Self just
to these items. (T F ?) If not, who
Pause and reflect what you're aware of now - what are your subselves
Another essential aspect of self-awareness is...
Awareness of Your
(Subselves') Key Attitudes
you know, attitudes are un/conscious opinions of something's or
simplicity, we often use the shorthand "good > bad," "healthy >
unhealthy," and "right > wrong" to express concurrent
general or specific attitudes.
Your attitudes come from your dominant subselves, and affect every aspect of
your life and work. Attitudes range from nourishing and healthy to toxic and
Two groups of attitudes are key
in providing effective human-service work to trauma-recoverers and divorcing-family and
stepfamily clients. One has to do with "appropriate" professional therapy
focuses, modalities, standards, and practices. The other has to do with
themselves. To illustrate this large subject,
rate yourself on
attitudes in each domain. Then imagine assessing each client adult
strategically for their attitudes on these
key subjects, and deciding
if, when, and how to help raise their self-awareness of them.
Changing someone's attitude - including your own - is a complex and
potentially-useful intervention. Do you have an effective way of doing that
now? One approach is to identify which subself or subselves "owns"
the target attitude, and use respectful
to negotiate with him/her to adopt a healthier belief.
Pause for a moment and reflect - what are your subselves
To augment inner awareness, effective clinicians also develop...
awareness is being habitually conscious of dynamic variables in me +
in you + between us + around us - now, and over time. This
consciousness is provided by the tireless
and other active subselves. Key process variables include...
what am I thinking, feeling, sensing, hearing, smelling, doing,
and needing; (b) what are my breathing and body telling me now, and
(c) which subselves are guiding my personality now and over time?
seem to be thinking, feeling, sensing, hearing, smelling, and
needing; (b) what is your body doing now (e.g. posture, eye contact,
voice dynamics, breathing, etc.); and (c) which subselves seem to be
guiding your personality now and over time?; and...
what are our recent, current, and chronic
what are we focused on (e.g. surface or
primary needs?), and how does that relate to (a) the client's
presenting problems, and/or (b) what I think the client needs to
learn and/or be
each participant's current
and do they
do we each / all have two-person
or something else?
where are each of us focused: the past,
the present, or the future?
are we each receiving believable
or something else?
are we communication
what are my options?
Is anyone in this session significantly
distracted so they can't focus on our work? If so, what do they
need now? "Distraction" usually results from several subselves ignoring
the Self (capital "S") and "talking over" each other about differing
perceptions, needs, and priorities. If this is chronic, clients may be
unaware of being unfocused and grounded until the clinician asks them to
breathe, reflect, and identify any physical, emotional, and/or mental
Effective clinical training and
motivate clinicians to learn to automatically monitor these
concurrent process variables, and develop wise judgment about when to act on
their awareness in every situation.
why you're reading this, and
continue with a summary of
special clinical skills required for each
phase of the work with these clients. Do you need a break first?
Besides steady self and process awarenesses, another personal trait needed
for effective outcomes with trauma-survivors and low-nurturance family
Trait 3: Special
Premise: a skill is a learned mental, emotional,
spiritual, and/or physical ability to achieve some specific effect on the
environment - like maintaining a high-nurturance family in a changing world. Some skills are
more impactful and difficult to achieve than others - e.g. effective brain
surgery vs. creating attractive Easter eggs. Some skills are innate
("Miko really knows how to tell a good story"), and others are
focused study, practice, and experience.
You may distinguish between a skill and an art, which adds personal creativity, intuition, and vision to
a skill. Some educators are skilled at transferring knowledge to others.
that inspire students to love learning and
applying knowledge to achieve their life purposes. Do you see systemic
clinical work as a skill, an art, or both?
Providing effective systemic therapy
is a set of learned and/or innate skills to (a) assess the functioning (nurturance level) of a
(b) intervene strategically to promote lasting
Some people are naturally gifted with one or
both abilities, and the rest of us must develop them over time. These
skills are enhanced by didactic and experiential knowledge (requisite 1).
typical divorcing families and stepfamilies are so
and different from intact biofamily systems,
human-service professionals need to develop special
skills to fill their and their clients'
effectively. As you know, being knowledgeable about a
skill differs from demonstrating it.
clinical skills required for effective
service to any client include...
reflect - which of these skills do you feel competent-enough at now, and
which do you need to develop? Are you proactively doing so?
Effective work with
and divorcing families and stepfamilies requires developing extra
skills (a) in general, and (b) for each
of the work. Let's overview each of these. Option -
use this as a checklist for skills
you have and others you want to develop.
In General, develop competencies at...
to each client case and session, including the metasystem of the clinician +
client family (+ clinical organization If any) + any active consultants
and/or organizations like schools, churches, and legal, medical, welfare,
and law-enforcement agencies;
building initial client trust in the
clinician's special knowledge and competence ("I'm very familiar with the
problems you're describing.");
discerning (a) the client
(b) the initial phase of the work, and
assessing multi-home family-system
structures, teaching clients
about them when appropriate, and intervening where needed to improve the
assessing each client's inner and outer family
encouraging clients to identify, affirm, and enjoy them regularly;
client adults and kids for false-self
and what to
developing and implement a healthy family
assessing client adults
and kids for (a) significant past and recent
and incomplete or
and (b) what to
about any problems with these;
alerting clients to the
needs, and why and how to
the latter in important and conflictual situations;
and problems, and competence
helping to motivate clients to
and improve these. This includes competence at helping client adults understand, avoid, or
spot and resolve significant values
conflicts and persecutor-victim-rescuer (PVR) relationship
And effective clinicians will work at
developing special competence at...
clinical modalities between individual, dyadic (marital or parent-child), and family
as the work progresses;
manage personal and family change
helping clients adults and kids understand the difference between
and why this is important to their family members;
educate clients as appropriate on the [wounds + unawareness]
(a) identify any excessive and/or unrealistic divorce-related
reduce them to normal. This may require some form of i
engaging kids' "other
parents" (ex mates)
and/or their relatives in the work;
helping parents (a) understand, accept, and
evaluate the special family-adjustment
needs of each minor child, and (b) agree on how to help kids fill
these and concurrent developmental
assessing and intervening
effectively with these presenting and underlying
using personal and client
as a resource;
handouts and homework assignments to facilitate the work;
evaluating professional consultants
(e.g. a grief, wound-recovery, or child therapist), and (b) if, how, and when to use them in the
advising local law,
school, welfare, and medical systems on the adjustment and long-term needs of these complex client families;
clarifying couples' current and long-term
motivating couples to maintain a stable, long-range viewpoint (e.g. 25-30 years),
motivating couples to rank-order their
current and long-term primary (vs. surface) needs;
assess the client-family's support system, and motivate clients to use
relevant resources (e.g. wound recovery,
and stepfamily education and
that other clients don't require;
know how to spot and admit personal
burnout, and what
to do about it; and...
know how to judge and use effective
peer support; and...
know if, how, and when to promote effective
and reflect - what are you aware of as you read this summary of required general
why you're reading this, and
continue with a summary of special clinical skills required for each
phase of the work with these clients. Do you need a break before continuing?
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