Assessment, Evidence-Guided Practice, and Practice Evaluation 69 4. Starting with a brief lecture, introduce students to the miracle question (such as “Imagine you wake up tomorrow and a miracle happens and you don’t have to work with me anymore. What would that look like? What would have to happen for the agency to be able to close your case?”) and its use to coconstruct cooperation with mandated clients. Instructors can begin by referring to the evidence base for this strategy, since research suggests that the miracle question enhances clients’ commitment and motivation, particularly when services are mandated. References noted previously can assist instructors in understanding these solution-focused questions. Begin by helping students understand the basic question and its relevance for assessment. Invite students to think about how they could ask their clients a question that requires them to look forward rather than backward—what cli- ents would like to see happen and be different rather than what has gone wrong. When asked to consider this point, one of our students, who worked on an oncology ward, quickly replied, “If I ask my patients that, I know exactly what they’d say—they’d say that they didn’t want to have cancer.” The student was right, of course. In many instances, students will have to frame the question in a way that provides a realistic and useful answer. In this case, for example, the student could ask, “Imagine a miracle happened and you woke up tomorrow, and you were feeling okay/comfortable/at peace about your situation. What would that look like? But you can’t cheat. You can’t say that you wouldn’t have cancer—though that would be a miracle, wouldn’t it? So you can’t ignore that you have cancer. But given that’s the reality for now, what would your life be like, what would be going on, if you woke up tomorrow and things were as good as they possibly could be?” Armed with this information, the worker and client can identify goals (i.e., the description provided by the miracle question) and objectives (i.e., the steps they need to take in order for the goals to be reached). For students who are working with mandated clients, ask them to think about what their clients want. Students usually are quite able to answer the ques- tion with some variation of “close their case” or “not to have to meet with me anymore.” The whole class can then discuss how students in these settings could craft a miracle question that acknowledges the involuntary nature of the client’s participation but coconstructs cooperation by identifying the steps that clients need to take for them to get what they want, which is for the agency to close their case. Record of Service The Record of Service traces in depth a worker’s efforts to help an individual, family, group, or community with a specific life stressor. Introduce students to
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