Systematic encouragement is employed within the ACRA model to maximise the possibility for young people to achieve their goals.
Systematic encouragement consists of three basic steps that are primarily aimed at helping the client navigate his or her way through emotional obstacles (e.g. ambivalence, fear, depression), or practical impediments (e.g. lack of information) associated with enacting their plans.
These three steps are:
- never assume the client will make the initial contact independently – the practitioner may need to role play the initial contact to build skills and confidence, they may also need to make sure the initial phone call is placed during the session
- whenever possible, arrange for a contact person to meet the client at the activity
- review the experience at the next session
Typically in ACRA, systematic encouragement is introduced in situations when a client is interested in trying a new activity but the practitioner believes there is a likelihood that the client will not actually follow through.
Other actions that can support the young person in enacting the planned changes include:
- Worker modeling social skills required to make connections e.g. requests for assistance from new contacts
- Joining in the activity e.g. playing a new sport, or practicing beforehand with the young person which may increase their confidence about going into a new situation
- Providing supportive analysis when something doesn’t work out i.e. what can be learned for next time
This is an opportunity for the worker to champion the young person’s efforts, whilst remembering to allow the young person to do as much as possible themselves in order to increase self-efficacy, but not leaving them ‘out of their depth’.