Endings 143 Sadness. As the reality of ending and resentment about it are successfully engaged, clients and workers are freed to experience shared feelings of sadness at separating. Social workers encourage and support client expressions and respond to them by sharing their own sense of intimacy and loss. Release. The process of ending is not complete until worker and client engage in three final tasks: (1) recognition of gains and specification of remain- ing work (2) development of plans for the future, such as transfer, referral, or self-directed tasks and (3) final good-byes and disengagement. Endings are especially valuable in building professional knowledge and refining skills. Joint assessment of outcomes with clients—identifying what was helpful and what was not, and why—are gradually generalized to practice principles. If agencies or workers do not engage in formal evaluation processes, the very least that needs to be undertaken is providing clients with the opportunity to provide feedback to the worker about the services they received. Creating a climate that permits people to be candid in their assessment of the service is a measure of worker skill. 4. Variations on Endings In many settings, the planned process of ending that we have described here is not possible. When encounters between workers and clients are brief, endings may occur in the same session as beginnings. Time limits imposed by third- party payers or the agency itself may lead to feelings on the part of both worker and client that their work is unfinished. To lessen the likelihood that this will occur, workers should adapt the pacing and focus of their work from the begin- ning to reflect the imposed time limits. Research indicates that approximately one-third of the time, clients simply stop coming to sessions. This may reflect their dissatisfaction with the services they received, their desire to avoid the painful process of saying goodbye, or their belief that they no longer need assistance. In these instances, workers should attempt to follow up with clients through a letter, phone call, or e-mail to ascertain the reason for their abrupt termina- tion and failure to say goodbye. This task helps workers and clients achieve closure and may provide workers with valuable feedback about their work with and on behalf of clients. Competency 8: Intervene with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities1 • Facilitate effective transitions and endings that advance mutually agreed- on goals.
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