Solution-Focused Case Management
Growing requirements for funding, effi cient use of resources , and increased caseloads for health and human service workers are resulting in greater demands for multiple services and integration of those services in order to engage people who are facing complex needs and challenges. These challenges range from domestic violence and child protective services to health, behavioral health, and rehabilitative services. Case management is becoming a necessary element of many health and behavioral health services, not traditionally seen as needing case management skills.
The consequences of this increasing need for professionals in our communities and our students to learn how to address complex challenges facing their clients or patients have resulted in our effort to write this solution-focused guide to case management. Hopefully we have created a useful guide to help you on your way to a new way of thinking about engaging clients/patients. In the fi rst several chapters, we devote considerable time providing you with a new way of seeing the world that is very different from the usual problem, diagnosis, and intervention plan. The shift is in how you might engage your usual expert role with the client. We hope to shed light on this “way of thinking” so that the skills and processes can be used effectively.
As noted earlier, the common theme for students and professionals has been the challenge of examining and questioning their assumptions about clients1 and the need to “fi x” the clients’ problems. The assumption that the professional needs to know about problems—their causes and their details— has been, and to a great extent continues to be, the traditional model that is followed. Even though it might appear secondary to the practice of solution – focused practice, we have learned from our students and the professionals we have trained in workshops that the true key to building solutions begins with challenging these fundamental “problem-focused” assumptions. We have also come to realize that shifting assumptions is not easy. We all have invested our time, money, and passions as we have adopted our respective theories and models. Changing perspectives requires a good deal of self-examination and the willingness to take a more skeptical view of our beliefs.
New research and theory development across various fields of study are presented as a way of creating a synergism of ideas that form the basis of the work. Although most solution -focused practitioners do not think about these synergistic ideas, we have found them helpful for doing solution-focused work. The curiosity about client strengths, social construction , positive psychology concepts, resiliency , and how one changes patterns of thinking and behavior are presented as a way of understanding this different approach to engage clients. How we think about ourselves and the client we are working with and the function of professional intervention determines the type of conversations we have with our clients.
Thinking as a solution builder (rather than a problem solver) requires a paradigm shift—a different way of thinking about those with whom we work (see Table P1). It assumes that even in the face of pain and struggle, people are doing the best they can at a given moment. To endure and survive difficult situations requires personal strengths and resources that are learned and utilized by the client.
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