Identify Goals and Resources

The counselor and client specify goals for improving the client’s situation. The program’s community resource directory should describe services offered, eligibility, and contact personnel at community agencies. The directory should include information about housing assistance, vocational training, financial assistance, legal services, medical services, mental health services, parenting and childcare resources, support groups, homeless shelters, women’s shelters, emergency services, food assistance, education and training resources, unemployment counseling, rape crisis centers, and transportation resources.

The counselor and client use the directory to identify relevant resources, determine whether the services offered match the client’s goals, and devise a plan for contacting the agency or service (e.g., who will do the contacting, what the specific goal of the contact is, when contact will be made). Because a major goal of this session is to build client self-efficacy in negotiating the social service system, the counselor encourages the client to contact the agency. If the client does not have the skills to make initial contacts effectively, the counselor and client role play a contact with an agency. If the agency requires that the counselor make the initial contact, he or she makes the call during the session to model effective negotiation skills.

The counselor helps the client transform his or her goals into a plan for obtaining services, and together they plan the steps:

C: So, although you have a problem, you’re not sure of possible solutions?

S: The solution would be more money, and we don’t have that right now!

C: Money would help. But did you know the county offers discounted bus fares for students?

S: No; I was wondering about that because the bus runs right by my school.

C: I have a book here with the phone number to call for information. Do you want to call?

Develop a Support Plan

Once the Problem Checklist is completed, goals have been developed, and the resource list has been reviewed, the counselor and client work on the Support Plan (form 3B)—a concrete strategy outlining how the client will follow through on reaching goals. For each goal, the Support Plan includes whom (or which agency) to contact, when to make the contact, what services or support to request, and what the outcome was. The Support Plan is a record of the client’s efforts to obtain services and bolsters his or her self-efficacy:

S: I’d like to know how much the bus pass costs and what time the bus runs. I wouldn’t need it every day; maybe 2 or 3 days a week. Can we call now?

C: Sure. Let’s write down on the Support Plan what you would like to see happen. First, we need to find out how much a bus pass costs with the student discount. Second, we need the bus route and schedule between your home and the school. We need to know whether the bus schedule fits with your school schedule. Here’s the phone. I’ll read you the number.