At Pause, we want the women practices work with to have the best chance to sustain the positive changes they have made once they leave the programme. We call our work on this ‘Next Steps’ and, with the individual in mind, aim to provide more limited or structured support where needed and positive transitions to other services to achieve this. When planning and delivering this work, it’s easy to think of the question we’re trying to answer as how do we best move women on.
But reading an article from the 2013 British Journal of Social Work recently caused me to reflect. O’Leary et al, in The Boundaries of the Social Work Relationship Revisited, outline the development of professional boundaries, and suggest a reframing of the more traditional model where boundaries mean keeping distance, to how they can complement what makes a difference in social work, that is, strong individual relationships. They propose a revised model, where the relationship is at the centre, with boundaries set around rather than through it.
Why is this relevant for Next Steps? Well, our goal is still to help women sustain the changes they have made. But thinking about the centrality of the relationship in this way can help us find better ways of achieving this than if we simply think about it as moving women on. The Pause model is built on relationships, and so Next Steps is inevitably about changing that relationship and over time ending it altogether. To do so successfully means recognising fears, resistance and difficulties on both sides and finding ways to overcome those in a way with which both are comfortable. It means renegotiating boundaries that lead to the relationship being less close, less available or even ceasing to exist at all. It means letting go. Ultimately, if Next Steps is to be successful, it needs to be planned and delivered not through the lens of moving the woman on, but of changing the relationship.
Jo Thomas, Implementation Manager, Participation and Pause Next Steps
To find out more about Pause Next Steps please drop us an email.