Step Four: (D) Develop Concrete Growth-Action Plans Collaboratively
-Assist clients in developing practical plans to take action on the part or parts of the problem they have chosen.
–The plan should focus initially on parts of their problems that they have decided can be solved or at least improved.
–The plan should be achievable and grounded in the strengths and limitations of their unique situations. (Review what has worked in the past and what has not, so as not to repeat failure)
-Help them evaluate each option being considered in terms of probable long-range consequences as well as effectiveness.
-Encourage them to build a definite, realistic timeline in their plan.
-Make sure they build accountability into their action plans.
-Encourage them to develop meaningful rewards they will give themselves when they take planned action or make progress toward goals, or rewards they will withhold if they don’t do what they had planned.
-Encourage them to identify the resource people whose assistance and encouragement they will need.
-The strategy should include strategies for overcoming inner resistances and outer obstacles to taking effective actions.
–Assist clients to plan clear backup strategies to use when moving toward certain objectives proves utterly impossible.
Step Five: (E) Empower Effective Coping by Implementing the Action Plan Incrementally
-Encourage clients to begin by taking planned actions on which their chances of succeeding are high. Initial successes will increase hope, energy, and momentum for keeping on.
-To protect yourself from caregiver overload, follow this guideline: do not do for clients what they could do for themselves and thus become healthier and more empowered.
-Assure them that the more they struggle to cope constructively, the easier it probably will become because their coping abilities will grow stronger and more effective as the exercise them.
–Caution them not to obsess in self-blame when they don’t take steps to which they have committed themselves.
-Keep affirming their efforts to deal with their problems incrementally.
–Mini-celebrations of coping successes reinforce and increase the likelihood that the new actions and changes will continue.
-Develop your own ways to surround them regularly with God’s healing presence, whether or not verbal and spoken prayers are meaningful to particular clients.
-As you terminate short-term counseling relationships, encourage clients to continue using the ABCDE model they have learned as an ongoing strategy for coping constructively with unfinished or new problems as they arise.
Step Six: (F) Follow-Up with Clients Periodically After the Termination of the Therapeutic Relationship
-Pastors are be able to have brief pastoral conversations with former clients/parishioners to follow-up on the status of their issues and how they have been able to develop their coping skills and implement action plans to new problems after services, via phone calls and any impromptu opportunities that arise.
-Pastors may also schedule future sessions once a month as a follow-up to “check-in” with clients and how they are functioning in their daily lives.
-Licensed professionals regularly reduce the frequency of sessions a month as the client develops their coping and problem-solving abilities, being that the goal for each counselor on the behalf of the client is to assist the client to develop such abilities that clients will no longer be in need of a counselor’s assistance.
–Termination of the therapeutic alliance is appropriate when the client has maintained stability by the use of their developed appropriate and adequate coping and problem-solving abilities for an appropriate period of time and the client expresses confidence in their ability to continue without the need to have monthly follow-up sessions.
-Pastoral counselors, ordained, layperson or licensed professionals, should always convey an “open-door” policy to their clients so that if future problems should occur and they feel unable to cope or lack the ability to cope with the new situation, they will feel comfortable and confident that they may call upon you to assist them.