10 Steps to a Successful Intervention Plan

The previous post focused on creating goals and objectives with families. In this post, we discuss how to create an effective intervention plan. These ten steps provide a framework you can use to help your client families reach their goals and objectives.

1. Start on a positive note.

Families in crisis are often overwhelmed by things not going well. They may not know how to make changes and may not believe it’s even possible. You can set the stage for success by explaining that change is possible. Share with families that you will be helping them discover why things aren’t working and learn new skills to make things better.

2. Consider each family member’s learning style (i.e., visual, auditory, kinesthetic).

People learn in different ways. What works for one person may not work for another. It is important to ask each person how they think they learn best; observe them in teaching situations; and offer different ways for them to access material.

3. Identify the skill you are going to teach and define small steps to master the skill.

People learn best in small, easily understandable steps. When people succeed with the first step they are more likely to take the next step—and the ones after that. What is a small step for one person may be an overwhelming step for another, so gather information about the person’s abilities before you start and evaluate as you go. Don’t be afraid to make the steps smaller in order to get success.

4. Discuss and explain the importance of using the skill.

Most people, including children, want to know why they need to do things differently. We all want to know “what’s in it for me.” Discuss with family members how changing a behavior or using a new skill will benefit them.

5. Describe and show the steps of using the skill.

Show people the path you want them to take and link it back to how it will benefit them and their family. The “Four Stages of Competence” model can be a useful way to help them understand how people learn new skills.

Use the “show—tell—do” model. Show the skill, explain it in small steps, and then have the person try it with you coaching and giving feedback. This process will help the person understand and gain confidence to try it on their own.

6. Rehearse the skill with the families and provide assignments.

Few people are one-trial learners. We all need to practice. Look for ways to make practice fun—during and between meetings with you. Give homework assignments that are manageable and reinforcing. Offer rewards for simply doing the homework.

7. Practice skills with families until they accomplish their goals.

Once is probably not enough. Five or ten or 50 times may be needed. Practicing with families can give them the confidence to continue on their own.

8. Evaluate as you go.

Make sure you ask for, and observe, each family member’s understanding about the skill being taught to them. Do this at each step in the process. Stop as needed to review and reteach. Break the skill into smaller or different steps as needed. Offer other ways to learn and practice the skills. Make sure you are doing everything you can to make the experience rewarding.

9. Provide effective feedback about progress toward the goal.

Explaining: “We’ve come this far and we have this far to go.” may not seem necessary. It is. Helping people see their progress can be motivating. We’re asking families to make big changes in their behavior and in their lives. It can seem overwhelming. When we put things in perspective we help people move forward toward their goals.

10. Always provide encouragement, praise and reinforcement to families.

Rewards work for all of us. Encouragement, praise and reinforcement are an integral part of a successful behavior change plan. Be sure you provide reinforcement that has meaning to each person. What is rewarding for one person may not be for another. Talk about this in advance with families. A disinterested kid may be more willing to try if they get to do more of the thing they love as a reward. Rewards don’t have to be prizes. Listening, encouraging, even a high-five can make a difference in how a person feels about the hard work they’re doing. We have a huge role in providing that reinforcement.


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Posted by Moneefah D. Jackson

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