Academic journal article Family Relations

Family-Oriented Program Models and Professional Helpgiving Practices

Academic journal article Family Relations

Family-Oriented Program Models and Professional Helpgiving Practices

Article excerpt

Family-Oriented Program Models and Professional Helpgiving Practices*

The relationship between different models of family level interventions and two components of practitioner helpgiving (relational practices and participatory practices) was examined in two studies of parents of young children involved in different kinds of family oriented helpgiving programs. Relational and participatory aspects of helpgiving were found to be practiced less often it? professionally centered programs compared to other kinds of family oriented programs. Participatory helpgiving practices that provided parents with (a) choices and options and (b) opportunities to be involved in both solutions to problems and acquisition of knowledge and skills that strengthen functioning were more likely to be found in programs that were family centered. Findings are discussed in terms of the importance of the models used to structure social and human services program practices.

Family-oriented approaches in social work, human services, and related fields are grounded in different conceptual and theoretical models that guide the ways in which interventions are conceptualized and implemented (e.g., Adams & Nelson, 1995; Boss, Doherty, LaRossa, Schumm, & Steinmetz, 1993; Griffin & Greene, 1999; Pare, 1995). In the time since Hartman and Laird (1983) called for adoption of family centered social work practice, there has been burgeoning interest in operationalizing different family oriented models (e.g., Desai, 1997; Jung, 1996; Keith, 1995; McCroskey & Meezan, 1998; Nelson, Landsman, & Deutelbaum, 1990), and in developing measurement procedures that distinguish between similar but different intervention paradigms (Booth & Cottone, 2000; Doherty, 1995; Dunst, in press).

Program models in social and human services interventions guide not only how practitioners view the locus of and solutions to family problems, but also the roles that practitioners play in helping families improve their lives. For example, Laird (1995) described the kinds of practitioner behavior most associated with a family centered paradigm and articulated methods for discerning adherence to this approach to working with families (see also Adams & Nelson, 1995; Briar-Lawson, 1998). Similarly, Powell (1996) delineated six stages (roles) that practitioners play in implementing family centered practice, beginning with partnering with families and ending with joint reflection on achievements.

The assertion that particular family oriented models engender different practitioner roles and behavior would lead one to expect that adoption of different models would be associated with different kinds of helpgiving practices. The purpose of the studies described here was to ascertain whether two components of helpgiving were differentially related to the type of family oriented program model used by different social or human services programs and agencies. Corroborating evidence from various studies on the relationships between contrasting intervention approaches and helping styles provides support for the hypothesis that adoption of particular kinds of family oriented models would predict differences in the help giver behavior of staff in these programs (e.g., Brickman et al., 1983; Karuza, Rabinowitz, & Zevon, 1986; van Ryn & Heaney, 1997).

As part of research and practice in early childhood intervention and family support, Dunst, Johanson, Trivette, and Hamby (1991) developed a framework for differentiating between four family oriented models to interventions that are based on assumptions about family member capabilities and the roles that helpgiving professionals and help receivers play in promoting changes in family development and functioning. Within this framework, different ways of working with families are aligned along a continuum of four family oriented program models (professionally centered, family allied, family focused, and family centered), where each model is characterized by different assumptions and beliefs about families. …

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