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Talk with parents about treatment

Help parents make the referral. Be as proactive in this as you need to be.

Before you speak with a parent, make sure you know:

  • what services and treatments are available
  • potential waiting times
  • any obstacles—such as how easy it is to get to an outpatient rehab by different forms of transport.

Have information about the services on hand and be ready to speak about the advantages of different treatment types—especially how they relate to the individual’s own circumstances.

Conversation ideas

Talk with a parent about their treatment options and any previous treatment they may have had. Use the following types of questions:

  • What ways have you tried to stop or reduce your alcohol or other drugs use before now?
  • Have you had treatment before?
  • What sort of treatment was it? How long ago? How long for?
  • What did you find helpful or unhelpful?
  • Tell me about how you finished. If you left before finishing, tell me more about that.
  • Tell me about any time you’ve had without drinking or using.
  • Was there any relapse prevention work done?
  • Can you call on previous treatment strategies you learnt to help you now?

Refer to Working with parents to look at more ways of talking with parents using strengths-based techniques.

Practice prompt

Use tools such as The Three Houses Tool and The Future House.

How to work with parents to set goals for change

Working with parents to set achievable change goals is an important part of your work towards the safety of the child.

A person’s ability to commit to change is dependent on where they are in the change cycle. You can prepare parents for positive change by breaking down the process and motivating them.

Keep an eye on the stages of change

The stages of change model suggests that individuals attempting to change behaviour move through a sequence of stages:

  1. Pre-contemplation—A parent in the precontemplation stage is not thinking about changing their alcohol or other drugs use. Parents in the pre-contemplation stage should be provided with harm reduction information and, where possible, persuaded/negotiated into safer methods of using.
  2. Contemplation—At this stage, a parent is starting to think about changing their behaviour. Motivational interviewing is useful for clients in this stage.
  3. Preparation—At this stage, a parent has made a decision to change and is now thinking about putting it into effect. Goal setting, planning, identifying triggers for relapse and problem solving are useful for parents in this stage.
  4. Action—A parent in this stage is changing their behaviour. A counsellor can assist with relapse prevention and management and with reinforcing positive changes.
  5. Maintenance—At this stage, a parent is focused on maintaining the positive changes. Continue to reinforce the positive changes that have been made and encourage them to begin working towards their longer-term lifestyle goals.

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