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been for counselling and you are not sure if it is working. Part of you feels
nothing has changed and another part feels like something is different. You are
probably right on both counts.
folks when seeking change look for dramatic differences. When results are not
seen or considered significant enough, some feel hopeless and perhaps give up.
Many tend to concentrate on only one aspect of change. Hang in and learn to
assess change more broadly. Here is what you need to know.
actually occurs in several dimensions: intensity, duration and frequency.
refers to the strength of behaviour. A slight emotion is manageable whereas an
intense emotion may be overwhelming. A child may cry or whine and at other times
may tantrum, flopping to the ground wailing. These are examples of different
levels of intensity or strength of behaviour.
refers to the length of behaviour or how long the behaviour lasts. One can feel
sad for a day or a week or longer. A tantrum can last a minute or an hour. These
are examples of different durations or length of behaviour.
refers to how often behaviour occurs or how many times in a given period the
behaviour is experienced. Tantrums may occur daily or weekly. Depression may
come and go cyclically or in some cases may persist so as to be perceived as
steady. These are examples of differences in frequency or how often a given
key to assessing change then, is to determine along all three dimensions if
something is different and understanding that change does not always occur
equally across all three dimensions.
example, a child tantrums. Parents use a time-out procedure to address the
tantrum behaviour. Over time, the frequency of tantrums, how often they occur,
goes down, but the intensity, the strength and even the duration of the tantrum
remains. The parents feel frustrated, believing nothing has changed. However,
when reviewing frequency, it is detectable that the actual number of incidents
has diminished. Parents are encouraged to stay the course and over time, while
intensity or duration may never change, the frequency can continue to decline to
the point where the child stops tantruming. Goal met.
another situation, a person feels depressed. With treatment and over time, the
patient still feels down and thus believes the treatment is not working.
However, when gauging the intensity of depression on a ten-point scale, the
person sees that whereas before treatment the intensity was rated a nine, with
treatment, the intensity has reduced to a five. The difference, while not all
the way better, also made the difference between thinking of suicide and being
able to cope and manage daily living. Thus the person is encouraged to continue
treatment in view of clear change.
most folks would like to see behaviour improve in all three dimensions equally,
this doesn’t always happen. Behaviour may improve in one or several dimensions
at different rates. The key is to carefully assess change across all dimensions
to best determine if change is actually occurring. Focusing on only one
dimension can provide the misguided impression that nothing has changed when
indeed it may have. If things are changing, then stay the course. Expect and
plan for some setbacks along the way. If it feels like change follows the
two-steps forward and one-step back path, the good news is things are still
moving ahead when you look at the entire course and not just the step back.
is everything when assessing change. Hopefully the above will help you keep a
broader perspective when determining change and keep you from feeling
discouraged. Hang in. Things may indeed be changing!
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
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