Chapter 3 – Setting goals
We believe achieving goals and dreams are very important elements of feeling good, although setting goals is not always what a YPWS is looking for. Sometimes a person just wants to express their thoughts and be heard.
Different people have different goals. Some goals are known to all parties and others hidden. For example, the goal of a youth worker can be that the young people they work with feel happy, have good self-esteem and take part in youth camp activities. The goal of a YPWS may be not to embarrass themselves and thus to avoid speaking situations. Some people’s goal might be to make jokes, so to laugh at the YPWS when they speak. In order to work as a group, it is important to support achieving individual goals and group goals. In this chapter we present tools on how to support setting goals.
Youth worker’s goals
Taking into consideration information about stuttering, YW can set their goals when working with YPWS. As we respect the autonomy and competence of YW, we will not tell what the goals should be but invite YW to think about their goals.
YW are probably experienced in setting group goals and we will not cover this topic in this manual. When generating ideas about the goals in a group and building group morale, please take into consideration if a YPWS has individual needs and how to communicate better with a YPWS (described at Chapter 5).
Establish and maintain safe relationships
Before setting group goals or supporting YPWS to set individual goals, it is important to establish and maintain safe relationships. When a safe relationship is established a person feels accepted and motivated and is ready to share their problems and talk about goals. When establishing a safe relationship you should also think about the environment. We suggest a YW chooses a quiet and private place so they can more effectively pay attention to what the YPWS is saying.
In addition the following basic principles and core skills should be taken into consideration when establishing safe relationship:
Basic principles to take into consideration when establishing safe relationship
Autonomy means that YPWS is seen by an expert who knows what their goals are and how to solve them (Westra, 2012, p. 21). Solving another person’s problem takes away their responsibility and reduces motivation (Rollnick, et al, 2016, p. 4). It is important that the young person sets their individual goal, writes it down in their own words and comes up with solutions on how to proceed. YWs have a very important role supporting YPWS to decide on what the exact goals are and to create opportunities for change. If a person does not have a solution on how to reach the goal, the YW can ask them to share their own experiences. The basic principle is that the YW asks a young person’s permission, gives information and asks what the young person thinks about this (Westra, 2012, p. 169). For example, “Can I share my experience of how other people have solved such a problem?”. Or, the YW can ask what the young person knows about the solution, for example: “What do you know about . . .?” (Rollnick, et al, 2016, p. 65).
The basis of a safe relationship is to accept the person and their thoughts without criticising them (Rollnick, et al, 2016, p. 45). Even when a YW might find a person’s thoughts irrational, it’s best to accept that people have different thoughts. Instead of arguing with them, try to see the other person’s perspective, take interest in why a person thinks this way and discuss their thoughts with them.
Core skills to establish a safe relationship
Following we provide the core skills to establish a safe relationship. The very basic skills of establishing safe relationships is to: 1. Ask open questions and listen to what the person is saying; 2. Accept other person’s thoughts and use affirmations if necessary; 3. Reflect back how you understood the other person: 4. Make a conclusion about what you have discussed if necessary (figure 2, Rollnick, Kaplan & Rutschman, 2016). In real life the skill of establishing safe relationships is not so straightforward and takes practice. There are many things to consider and cannot be included in this manual. Here we list mainly things that are associated with stuttering. To learn more about establishing a safe relationship, take a look at references at the end of this manual about coaching (Waringa, Ribbers, 2015) and motivational interviewing (Rollnick, et al, 2016; ). In the following we explore more about the core skills used to establish and maintain a safe relationship illustrated in Figure 2:
1. Open-ended questions
The meaning of these questions is to show interest in a person and not offer ready solutions. Start with questions that are not so personal. For some people it takes time before they are willing to talk about their problems and wishes. For example, the closed question would be “Do you practice sports?” and the open-ended question would be “Tell me, how do you usually spend your day?” You can also ask “What else?” questions – these give young people a chance to tell about something that was not asked specifically (Rollnick et al., 2016, p. 35).
Establish conversation with open-ended questions using activities. For example, a young person can make a collage about themselves, their family, friends and talk about it. This way, the young person will be able to express themselves more and to show their strengths. It also gives the YW an opportunity to understand how the young person feels and values themselves. Through this conversation, the YW can reflect on the young person’s strengths.
Affirmations mean that the YW points to the YPWS’s strengths during a conversation (Rollnick et al., 2016, p. 36). It is not a judgement but rather finding something positive a YW notices. Good affirmation can provide motivation to move on. In example 1 you can find some sample affirmations.
Reflection means that the YW summarises what the young person is saying or how the YW have understood the young person’s thoughts and feelings. Reflections contain elements of curiosity, meaning reflections are guesses about what the other person is meaning or feeling (Rollnick et al., 2016, p. 39). Reflections give the person the knowledge that they have been understood and accepted. There are different kinds of reflections. For example, a person complains, “I’m afraid to speak with others.” Simple reflection would be just to restate in different words what the other person is saying: “You feel fear when speaking to others”. A complex reflection adds new meaning and can direct the future conversation: “You would like to have the courage to communicate more”. A double-sided reflection captures both sides of another person’s problem and can be used to evoke change. This will be discussed further in the following chapters.
After asking open questions, listening, giving affirmations, reflecting, the YW can summarise the key points during the conversation (Rollnick et al., 2016, p. 39). After giving a summary, the YW can ask if they have missed anything.
In a real conversation you can combine these four skills. An open question can be followed by reflection or multiple reflections. If necessary, affirmations can be added, which is again followed by some open questions and more reflections. The cycle is repeated until the YW can summarise the key points said during the conversation.
EXAMPLE 1: In the following we provide an example of a situation that can happen at a youth camp. Imagine you already have established a safe relationship with a young person. You are organising name games and one of the participants are not taking part in it. In the right time and place you can talk to a YPWS. Here we give a short version of the conversation on how to use the four skills mentioned above:
How to support YPWS with setting goals?
When a safe relationship has been established, the YW can support YPWS with setting goals (if the person has individual goals, of course). Sometimes a goal can be relatively small and a YPWS just wants to be heard. The goal does not have to be about stuttering but here we give examples associated with stuttering. The general principle is that the YW does not set the goals for the YPWS but through careful empathic, listening, reflecting and elaboration (Figure 2), the YPWS themselves reaches a decision on what the goal is (Westra, 2012, p. 106). There is also a manual for YPWS which covers the part on how to set individual goals. The manual can be found at www. stamily.org. Often setting goals and reaching them can be very challenging, especially when a young person has to do it by themselves. This is why the YW support is very important. When a YPWS has a long-term goal, it is only suitable when the youth worker can meet with the person for a longer period. Next we present tools on how YWs can support others to set individual goals. These tools are taken from Motivational Interviewing, Coaching and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy but if you feel more comfortable with some other methods, feel free to use them. Now let’s take a closer look how YWs can support YPWS with setting a goal:
A very powerful tool in supporting YPWS with setting their own goals is “reflecting on the thoughts of change” (Rollnick et al., 2016, p. 44). When a YW has a conversation with a YPWS (Figure 2) and hears thoughts about change, the YW can reflect on these thoughts. This way the YPWS starts to think more about the change. For example, a sentence like “I have not been speaking to a lot of people in this camp”, can include a wish to change and can be reflected back: “You would like to speak to more people at this camp”.
Ambivalence of change-related thoughts:
Ambivalence means that on one side a person wants to change, but another part they reason against the change (Rollnick, et al, 2016, p. 5; 46). For example, a YPWS might be saying, “I would like to talk with more people, but I do not want to stutter.” In this case it is important to accept the YPWS’s autonomy to feel this way and may be reflected in a more change motivated way: “You would like to interact more with people and want to feel better doing it” (Westra, 2012, p. 194). Also, the negative thoughts do not have to be avoided and the pros and cons of it can be discussed openly (Westra, 2012, p. 217).
Another tool to find out about a person’s goals is the miracle question: “Imagine you wake up one morning and a miracle has happened. You stutter in the same way, but the unpleasant thoughts associated with stuttering and the negative emotions are gone. Describe your day, what would you do?” (Waringa, Ribbers, 2015). The reason for this question is that often YPWS think they need to be fluent to achieve their goals. This way they might start to think on how to achieve their goals while still stuttering. When a YPWS is telling about their imaginary day, the YW can reflect on these thoughts.
Writing down the goal
At the end of this manual (Appendix 1) is an example of a “Behavior Diary” where a young person can write down their goals, plans and activities. You might ask, “What would you think of us writing down your goal and together try to figure out how to achieve it?” The YPWS has the same form available in which they can log in to Stamily.org. They can fill out this form and share it with other parties.
Importance and confidence scales
After writing down the goal in the Behavior diary, ask on the scale from 0-10 what the YPWS thinks of:
IMPORTANCE: On a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 is “not at all important” and 10 is “very important”, how important is it for you to …(YPWS goal)?
CONFIDENCE: On a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 is “not at all confident” and 10 is “very confident”, how confident are you that you could make these changes if you decided to …(YPWS goal)?
After the YPWS has chosen a point in an importance and confidence scale, the YW can ask why they did not choose some lower point (look at the sample conversation below). When a person talks about how important the goal is to them, it can raise the motivation to achieve it. The confidence scale gives an idea of where the person stands on achieving the goal now and what additional steps have to be taken to raise their confidence.
Example 2. Following is an example on how to ask follow-up questions about importance and confidence scales:
Next, we have some recommendations to pay attention to when a YPWS is setting a goal:
The goal should be realistic. One of the common goals a YPWS might have is to get rid of the stutter. Unfortunately, this is not a realistic goal, since if a child has stuttered for more than three years, they are unlikely to grow out of it (Guitar, 2014). Learning to use speech techniques will not usually solve it either, because the cure is available only at early stages of stuttering (Guitar, 2014). An older YPWS can learn speech techniques to better manage their stutter, but not to cure it. A more realistic goal would be to communicate more often (regardless of the stutter), be more accepting of one’s stuttering, or learn to use speech techniques in different situations. When a YPWS has unrealistic goals, one way to handle this situation is to ask permission and then give advice.
Example 3: Here is an example how to give advice:
Achievable in the near future
If the young person has a long-term goal, ask them to choose one short-term goal that is achievable in the near future (for example, within two weeks) and is part of the long term goal.
The young person should be able to measure their progress towards the goal and be able to realise when they have achieved it. For example, if the goal is to say “good morning” to people in the morning, a person can write down how many times they have said good morning.
To achieve goals, usually a plan is necessary. That will be explained in the next chapter.
|In conclusion about setting goals: