The Importance Of Details

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I am sure that there are many times when you read through my webpage or articles and you think, "My GOD!...this man is way outta control. How in the world did he ever get a job anywhere, particularly as a social worker! " And I would not question that opinion because I have learned from past experience that sometimes an all uphill battle is a waste of energy. However, when you go to file the commitment papers on me, "way out of control" will not be seen as valid evidence or proof that my behavior was anything but honorable. Therefore, you might want to consider the following:

Generalized descriptions such as "way out of control" may be fine when you are engaged in casual conversation with a friend or to express your feelings of frustrations. However, when you are talking to someone for the purpose of getting help to understand or deal with someone's behavior, you need to be ready to furnish details. Knowing what happened, when it occurred, what was going on at the time (eating supper, watching TV, etc.), who was involved, specifically what caused the reaction at that time, and what corrections were tried may provide valuable insight as to what is happening within a family and what might be causing it. This format is essential if you are going to discuss the matter officially (social worker, counselor, lawyer, police, etc.) but it will also be helpful to your minister, friend, and others if you are going to ask them for advice. This is a handy mean intervention strategy to use in almost all situations where there is a problem and you need to seek help outside the home(dispute with neighbor, faulty merchandise, behavior management, and so on.).

If the problem is one of behavior management, this information can also be used to develop a treatment plan for the person/situation. For example, if your information indicates that little Johnnie, yells more at his brother one hour before each meal, the treatment may be to target that time period and try different strategies or further analyze what is happening. In this case, the solution may be something simple like a small snack to boost his blood sugar and thereby reduce irritability/conflict. Further study may indicate that (1) an afternoon nap reduces fussiness (2) exercise or active play reduces stress (3) transition activities are needed to smooth out the adjustment of coming from school to home (for example) or (4) that the actual "problem" is being intentionally created by his brother. It may also show that the person MAKING the report has ideas or expectations that may not be appropriate. Most people don't want to hear that they are wrong or looking at a "problem" incorrectly but in trying to resolve a conflict situation, all aspects have to be considered.

Therefore, it is both helpful and necessary to document the details when it comes to identifying a problem within a family or developing a treatment plan for such. The treatment plan is like a map for success but without the details to understand the terrain and label the map, the best plan in the world will not work or have the proper will go nowhere.

Credits: Emil Baldwin, Jr., LSW

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