Challenge to Change: Motivational Interviewing For Your Child Protection Worker
These techniques are designed to help you help your child protection worker understand why it is important to treat their clients with respect and challenge them to change the way they interact with you and other parents.
A child protection worker is a person just like you and me. Most operate within the invisible, elitist rules of their social class where respect typically only occurs upward. They really do have a hard job and face severe consequences from their supervisors if they do not do what they are told. Even if they are trying to act in a child’s best interest, they may face reprimands and even income loss at their yearly performance review if they chose a child’s best interest over the agency’s best interest. The agency is concerned with meeting ministry standards, regardless of the effects of this on children. Recognizing this conflict with your worker can help begin the process of change. The ministry standards are the rules in which the child protection worker must follow, such as timelines for investigations. Understanding these standards will help you and the worker to understand the reasons for their behaviour.
Ask your worker about his or her background. Why did they get into this field? Where did they study? This may help the worker to realize how their behaviour may be pushing them away from their goals. After reading the performance indicators on your local agency’s website, ask your worker if they feel these statistics accurately measure agency performance. Even if the worker does not answer, they will still begin to think about change and reasons for or against it.
Rolling With Resistance
Many workers may not answer your open-ended questions. Do not demand answers. Instead, just ask different questions. If a worker gets defensive, change the topic. You may never get an answer but these questions may start other conversations at union meetings and “around the water cooler.” Secretly recording your interactions are perfectly legal and may allow for less resistance than openly recording.
Support Self Efficacy
Commend the worker if they treat you with respect and dignity. Reinforce this behaviour at every chance you get. Eventually the worker will realize they are capable of treating clients with respect and the challenge of change will be realized.
To learn more about Motivational Interviewing, check out http://www.smartrecovery.org/resources/UsingMIinSR.pdf.