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Anticipating and preparing for setbacks

Video Type: In Practice

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Christy is the 26-year-old mother of a 2-year old daughter, Cristelle. She returned to her work as an employee assistance plan counselor 4 months ago after being off on a maternity leave. One month after returning to work she separated from her husband John. She has recently moved in with her parents, who she says are caring grandparents but have many opinions about parenting that sometimes cause stresses. Christy says she is not feeling much empathy for clients at work and not getting along with workmates. Having reviewed some of the changes Christy has made, David invites her to anticipate the sort of situations that could lead to a “backslide” so that she can better prepare for them when they come up. How does David introduce this idea and what does he do to prepare Christy for answering the question? What are the potential slippery slopes for Christy and what useful responses to these does she anticipate? What does David ask to ensure Christy paints a clear picture of how to deal with these situations? What aspects of the counselor's practice might you have done similarly/differently? “Relapse prevention” is a term sometimes used to prepare for situations that could reignite difficulties. It can be useful in finishing up work with a client to join them in anticipating the contexts that threaten to cancel the gains made. Here, the notion of the “slippery slope” becomes a metaphor for this possibility, and David supports Christy in examining where that slope might appear both at home with her daughter and parents, as well as at work. Anticipating the risk of backslides is part of the process; the second part is to prepare for these by identifying potential helpful responses to the situations that might arise. As always, David is careful here to ensure Christy's description of those responses is detailed and concrete.

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