Engagement: Just as Important for Staff

We know that we have to engage families with the wraparound process. The connection between engagement and success have been clearly demonstrated, and I don’t think anyone seriously believes you can skimp on engagement and have the process work any longer. This is true in part because we are asking the families involved to make hard changes.

You know what else is hard? For a seasoned mental health professional to switch to the wraparound mindset, or for a facilitator fresh out of school to learn to work with families in the wraparound way.

Wraparound requires a lot of new thinking on the part of practitioners, and that shift can be very difficult. It is scary to do something that is contrary to everything you have ever done, or been taught. That is why wraparound training has to start with engagement.

In this specific case, we mean engagement with the promise of wraparound. You have to take the time to get your new staff excited about the possibilities. We know that wraparound can make a critical difference for families. Your staff need to know that, too.

And it’s not enough to know it, they have to feel it, to believe it.  There are several ways to do that. Two of our favorites are to start training with:

  • A real life story from a family for whom wraparound made the difference (preferable deliver by the family)
  • A polarity exercise, where the class evaluates the outcomes for a family given services as usual, and then given wraparound style planning (this is how we start teaching wraparound in our Foundations textbook)

These things take time, but they set the stage for new staff to be excited about doing wraparound. This excitement is critical: when the staff member is alone in the field, and things get hard, you need them to really believe this is the best way. Otherwise, human nature says they will revert to what they know.

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