Although child welfare policy highlights the need for cooperative work with parents, research shows that in practice, child welfare caseworkers aren't working collaboratively, especially when parents appear resistant to services, do not participate in services, or are hostile.
Frequently, there is an assumption of a link between parental compliance and motivation to change, and parents’ ability to make changes and safely parent their children. Because of these assumptions, resistant behaviors are associated with negative outcomes, including lower rates of reunification, even when the parents’ progress on treatment goals is taken into account.
In this presentation, participants will gain an understanding of reactance theory and how to use it to guide interventions with parents. As an empowering strengths-based model, it fits strongly with social work values and is a good fit for child welfare work, where issues of power are omnipresent, and there is a dearth of empirically supported approaches.This framework can be utilized on individual (caseworker), systemic (agency), and policy (outcomes-to-impact) levels.
--Develop an understanding of reactance, including what it is and how it differs from a traditional understanding of resistance and noncompliance
--Identify common client responses to feelings of reactance
--Utilize the reactance theory framework to identify interventions with “resistant” child welfare
Rebecca Mirick has worked with adjudicated youth, Head Start teachers and families, and clients served by suicide prevention efforts. Mirick has developed and run gatekeeper trainings, collaborated on developing best practices for postvention work in agencies and schools, and researched suicide prevention and postvention strategies.
Her clinical experience and the knowledge gained through direct research with clients and service providers guides her current scholarship and writing, as well as her graduate social work teaching at Simmons School of Social Work. There she has taught clinical practice, human behavior, and research methods for a number of years.