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Approaching Consultation Work...


There Needs to be Questions!

Effective consultation starts with questions, clarifying questions, not answers.  Before jumping headlong into a consultation, there are several questions that need to be asked to understand the functions, needs and wishes of the individual, couple, family or organization.

  • What is the nature of the consultation requested...aught to be the first question when it comes to this kind of work.  Stated another way, what clinical or organizational goals and objectives will be addressed? 
  • What is envisioned at the end of this process; or is the consultation seen as part of an ongoing effort at improving clinical services or organizational operations?
  • What degree of support does the consultation have from the top down?
  • What degree of resources will be committed to the consultation; both initially and in an ongoing fashion once recommendations and suggestions are offered?

Informed Consent

Each recipient of a consultation service should know what to expect from the process, a time-line for how long the service is estimated to last and what the potential results will be - good, bad or otherwise.  Meaning, that with consultative interactions there is always the risk of unexpected changes, changes within the larger environment, leadership, or support that may compromise or complicate the consultation.

Basic stages of consultation include:

  • Thorough assessment,
  • Participative clarification,
  • Recommendations and suggestions,
  • Implementation,
  • Follow-through,
  • And, follow-up.

Different Consultations, Different Needs

Depending on the type of consultation, different considerations follow.  Below are some examples of the kinds of considerations that will more than likely be brought up if Aspen Practice, P.C. does a consultation.

Accreditation Consults

What level of accreditation is being sought? Is organizational leadership ready to think about standards in an organic way instead of as a checklist?  All three questions are central to this type of consultation, if an organization desires a positive outcome and an efficient meaningful process. 

'If it were easy, everyone would do it...'  Though by this point in time this statement has become a cliché, it still holds true.  Organizations that obtain high levels of accreditation do the work that is required, and are supported by organizational leadership in doing so. 

It is often remarked by executive, clinical and support staff members alike that many standards seem to be so much 'red tape.'  But, what if, what may seem to be an exercise actually does have a deeper interconnected meaning the directly impacts the care provided to clients?  The majority of standards for accreditation are interconnected in a meaningful, organic fashion; and once organization's learn this they are also able, many times, to see how other standards such as state licensing, etc. are also interconnected.  Then, red tape turns into a meaningful process that directly impacts the care of each client served by the organization.

'It's a computer job...'  It has been our experience that organizations often double their work-load and/or make the accreditation process more difficult than it needs to be though the simple act of not considering the role that information technology plays in preparing for accreditation.  There are efficiencies and presentation clarity that can be gained saving time, money and frustrations for all involved.  Organizing for an accreditation visit can be made considerably easier through the use of information technologies.

Clinical and Supervisory Consults

What does the history tell us; and, who knows it?  What are the backgrounds and training of those providers involved in the case?  These are the questions that often mark the beginning of the consultation itself, including all records known or unknown by those providers, family and friends surrounding the case.  Often times, in complicated clinical cases or supervisory situations a critical element of the history has been forgotten or is missing.

All behavior has meaning, and understanding what a behavior means is often the key to unraveling the complexity of a clinical case.  With some difficult cases extensive interviews and detailed monitoring may be requested to find patterns that may lead us to what certain behaviors mean.  Once we know the meaning, and outline what is desired, then we can create a situation where challenging cases start to move forward.

Organizational Consults

Are you ready for change, and if so, how much?  While many organizations desire change, often they are not prepared for the commitment, resources and time it will take to produce meaningful lasting changes.  Many times members of an organization have become accustomed to change models that are only exercises - and do not really produce change.  True change is transformative, and this transformation can be a quiet steady process or a sudden and dramatic process depending on the stability of the organization.


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Last modified: 02/20/10.