140 Helping with Maladaptive Relationship and Communication Patterns D. Oh, no! She’s getting angry! What do I do now? Doesn’t she see that she shouldn’t be hitting her kids?) After completing this assignment, ask students to identify the various sources of interpersonal stress (e.g. countertransference and taboo material). Students can then share their analyses with the class. Social Work Skills and Methods It is important to remind students that the skills needed to address interpersonal obstacles are comparable to those that they use when addressing maladaptive patterns in groups and families. The difference is that the focus now is on the worker-client relationship. While the skills are similar, the focus may make it more difficult for workers to employ them because they may be required to admit to a mistake. 1. Begin with a lecture in which you identify the skills needed to address inter- personal obstacles. Because these skills are not new to students, you can ask them to provide examples that illustrate them. Alternatively, use the critical incident example from the previous exercise and have students discuss how the interns can use their vulnerability to address the interpersonal obstacles that have surfaced. 2. Using examples that students already have provided through the previous exercises or additional examples, break the class into small groups or work with the class as a whole, and have students develop a transactional formu- lation of an interpersonal life stressor in one of their cases. Ask students to describe the obstacle behaviorally and transactionally. Students should be able to identify both their and their clients’ actions: “When John becomes quiet, I begin to talk too much” “When Jane asks personal questions, I get flustered and change the focus” “When we have serious conversations, Billy begins to clown, other members laugh, and I withdraw, feeling helpless” “When Jim tried to explain away his drinking, I found myself getting angry with him because he reminded me of my dad’s always making excuses for his alcoholism.” 3. As we have suggested in other chapters in this guide, have the class or small groups engage in a “do-over.” Based upon the knowledge and understanding that students have gained regarding the nature of and reasons for interpersonal obstacles, encourage students to redo the exchanges using the skills identified in the chapter. Then ask them to develop an intervention that addresses the workers’ mishandling of the situations and helps the workers and clients get back on track. In other words, begin by asking students to consider what the workers could have done, and then ask them to manage what was done.
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