Introduction to Interactive Journaling Facilitation Notes

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1 Introduction to Interactive Journaling Facilitation Notes SESSION ONE Learning Objectives - Address common questions about the design and application of Interactive Journals - Review some of the evidence-based underpinnings of Interactive Journaling - Practice key skills for introducing, applying and conveying the value of an Interactive Journal - Develop awareness of and responses for addressing participant reluctance to engage with Journals Introduction Imagine it s your first day of facilitation, and you re working with a brand new group of participants. There you are, standing in a room full of people, preparing to introduce them to something called an Interactive Journal. What do you say? What do you do? It may feel a bit unfamiliar at first, but the Journals your participants have in their hands have been carefully designed to support positive, personal and lasting behavior change. The motivational and strengthbased structure of these Journals can guide both group and individual sessions, as well as help participants during their time outside of the program. Every Interactive Journal is a personalized resource that helps its owner get more of what they want from their program, and their life. This elearning module is designed to introduce you to the evidence-based practice of Interactive Journaling so that the next time you re guiding a participant through the steps toward positive, personal change, you will have another instrument in your facilitation tool box to help make that possible. In Session One, you ll learn a little more about what Interactive Journaling is, and how you can introduce it effectively with your participant populations. Session Two will teach you how to use Interactive Journaling to structure both group and individual sessions, and some strategies to use in each. And finally, Session Three will demonstrate some specific facilitation techniques for introducing, expanding on and responding to Interactive Journal exercises. Let s get started! Journal Group Questions Continue to imagine yourself working through the first day of an Interactive Journal session. You would probably have a lot of questions running through your head. Chances are, these participants might have some of the same ones. Part of your role as a facilitator is to build a foundation of knowledge that can help you address questions like the ones you ll see here. Click on each question as it pops up to learn more information about the topic. The answers you learn will 1

2 help you better understand and explain the value behind these Interactive Journaling resources. What s an Interactive Journal? Not surprisingly, this is probably one of the first questions you ll come across, either for yourself or from your participants. Interactive Journals are writing tools that use the evidence-based practice of Interactive Journaling. Let s look at some different ways to describe and define Interactive Journaling. Here, you ll learn about what these Journals can do, and what foundational theories this model has been built upon. An Introduction to Interactive Journaling So what is Interactive Journaling anyway? This term is used to describe a structured and experiential writing process that both motivates and guides individuals toward making lasting, positive changes in their lives. Each part of this definition helps explain the unique qualities of Interactive Journaling. Click on the different words in this sentence to learn a little more. Interactive: Individuals all start with the same content. The responses to questions and exercises is what allows each participant to personalize and interact with the material. Structured: Interactive Journaling is different from free-form or stream-of-consciousness journaling because it directs the participant to respond to specific information through targeted content, graphics and questions. Experiential: The experience of writing can act as the first step in helping participants develop positive ways to function in their lives. Experiential writing can also help participants put words to their thoughts and feelings. The Journals raise participants awareness of the impact of their behaviors on themselves and others. They also provide practical solutions for practicing and applying behavior change strategies. Motivates and Guides: Rather than focusing on right or wrong answers, Interactive Journaling engages participants in responses that are personally relevant. Journal topics explore areas of personal heat, but at the same time, questions are designed to evoke positive and motivational thinking. Integrated Motivational Interviewing principles meet and guide users from where they are, regardless of a particular participant s readiness to change. Evidence-based Underpinnings A lot of behavior-change research goes into the foundation of Interactive Journaling. Some of these theories and models you may already know about, but you may be surprised to learn how their application can be seen on almost every page of an Interactive Journal. Click on each one shown here to learn about 2

3 how these processes contribute to the structure of an Interactive Journal. The Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change This behavior change model guides the design of every Interactive Journal. Research supporting the Transtheoretical Model has identified how individuals working to change a behavior go through five common stages of change and use 10 common strategies, or processes to facilitate this change. The Interactive Journaling approach integrates the stages and processes from this model throughout its content topics and questions. Early pages of Interactive Journals are matched to early stages of change, ones that model pre-action, experiential processes to help participants move through contemplating and preparing for change. Later pages of Journals, or later Journals in a curriculum series, are matched to later stages of the Transtheoretical Model. These action-based, behavioral processes help participants make observable steps to initiate or maintain positive behavior changes. Motivational Interviewing William R. Miller, creator of Motivational Interviewing, explains that, Motivation can be understood not as something that one has, but rather as something someone does. It involves recognizing a problem, searching for a way to change and then beginning and sticking with that change strategy. There are, as it turns out, many ways to help people move toward such recognition and action. To this end, Interactive Journaling uses motivational-enhancement strategies and techniques within its content and questioning. Open-ended and reflective questions are structured to help participants tap into their personal desires, abilities, wants and needs. Facilitators are encouraged to apply the spirit of Motivational Interviewing when facilitating Interactive Journals. Cognitive-behavioral Therapy (CBT) Interactive Journals also tap into cognitive-behavioral concepts from leading experts such as Albert Ellis, Aaron and Judith Beck, Glenn Walters and Maxie Maultsby. CBT strategies are incorporated into Interactive Journaling pages to assist participants in identifying, challenging and replacing maladaptive thoughts and behaviors. Many Journal curricula harness cognitive-behavioral metaphors to teach participants of the series or chain that links situations, thoughts, feelings, behaviors and consequences. What s all this stuff on the page? As a facilitator, you may want to know how these Interactive Journals are constructed. As a participant, the question might be as simple as What s all this stuff on each page? Knowing a little more about some of the developmental guidelines of Interactive Journaling can help you explain how a Journal exercise works, and even structure your session to align with the design of the Journal. 3

4 How Interactive Journaling Works Every Interactive Journal page is unique, but all are constructed following the same general guidelines. Click on the items shown here to read how each one contributes to the efficacy of the Interactive Journaling method. The 30-second Rule Information on the page is presented in bite-sized pieces to allow for easy comprehension and create a sense of confidence and accomplishment. This rule ensures that, in general, page content can be read and processed within thirty seconds or less. Interactive Format Crucial information is followed by a journaling component which encourages individuals to internalize or try on new knowledge. Focus on Core Information Careful evaluation is made to determine the precise information needed on each page. This level of attention supports participants in their stage of change regarding their specific areas of focus, thus reducing the risk of overload or confusion. Self-efficacy Participants are given a consistent message that change is possible. Their Journal becomes a personalized resource and reminder of this message. Enhance the Therapeutic Alliance Journals assist in creating a collaborative approach between the facilitator or counselor and the participant, based on shared goals and strategies for making changes. Personal Responsibility The message that individuals are personally responsible for their thinking and behavior is consistent in every Journal. Color for Comprehension Use of multiple colors on every page attracts participants attention and helps increase knowledge retention. Experiential Learning Guide Individuals tap into their life experiences to establish a personalized foundation for change. Consistency in Reading Level A consistent reading level is incorporated for each Journal, based on the age and academic background of a participant population. Rule of Thirds 4

5 Journals are designed using a rule of thirds, which balances page layout between 1) copy blocks, 2) core graphics that visually support text and 3) targeted journaling questions. Use of Core Graphics The term core graphics refers to how content and relevant behavior change information is visually represented in the pages of a Journal. This can include metaphorical concepts, charts, illustrations, etc. These visual representations reinforce key curriculum content. Sense of Permanency Journals are printed on durable paper and saddle-stitched to reinforce a sense of quality and permanence. Participants recognize that this resource will stay with them after a session or program ends. Flexible Use Journals are organized in a modular format. This allows participants to receive the right information at the right time. It also helps facilitators structure curriculum content to match their program s dose and intensity of delivery. What do we do with these? So far, you ve explored some basic questions about what an Interactive Journal is. Now, let s look at the question of how to effectively use Journals within the program. Regardless of the specific Interactive Journals your participants have, there are certain things that can help you effectively implement these materials within both individual and group settings. In this section, we ll explore three things to consider as you work to maximize your use of a participant s Interactive Journaling curriculum: introducing a Journal, applying a Journal and creating lasting value for a Journal. Introduce the Journal How you introduce a Journal is key. It sets the tone for a participant s experience with the material, and even with the program itself. Participants will mirror the value you place on Interactive Journals, and the role they play in helping them make important life changes. It can be helpful to script out your first introduction to a Journal. Start by bullet-pointing the key information you want to transfer, then work this information into a monologue appropriate for your program setting. Let s listen in to a facilitator introducing an Interactive Journaling curriculum to a group of participants. Apply the Journal 5

6 Your introduction to Interactive Journaling can also help participants understand how they will apply this material to their personal work of behavior change. There are three core questions individuals ask themselves when working to apply information from their Journals: What does this mean to me? How does this apply to my life today? and What steps can I take to make changes? You can also see the application of Interactive Journals as breaking into the following four parts: Reading core content of the Journal, responding to targeted questions, sharing individual responses and receiving feedback from others. When combined, reading, responding, sharing and receiving feedback assist participants in getting the most out of each page. Value the Journal A final way to effectively make use of Interactive Journals within a program is to establish the value of these resources. To do this, you can explain to participants that their Journals can be treated as personal road maps through their program. Facilitators can reinforce this message by using a participant s Interactive Journals in their service planning, or to help establish target areas to focus on. In these ways, each Journal does indeed act as a road map, both through the hard work within the program and through more positive results in the future. Interactive Journals are also designed to build and support self-efficacy. You can support a Journal s value by guiding participants to tap into their individual experiences, and help them use these as catalysts for change. Interactive Journals help participants explore where they have been in relation to where they want to be in the future. They provide strategies and skills participants can use today to get where they d like to go. The more personal value and permanency each participant sees in his or her Interactive Journals, the more effective their use of these tools will be. Other Tips for Journal Facilitation By now you have a good foundational understanding of what Interactive Journaling is, what goes into its creation, and how it can be introduced and effectively used in a treatment setting. Chances are this information will help you understand and answer many questions you might first receive when handing out an Interactive Journal. However, there may be some other questions you might run into early on. The remainder of this elearning session will focus on some other general tips that might come in handy when first working with Interactive Journals. They also will draw on some strategies you might find helpful in your basic counseling work. Just like the first part of this session, click on the participant questions as they come up to learn some more information about how they can be proactively addressed. 6

7 How do I know what I say here won t be used against me? As a facilitator, one thing that is helpful to establish up front is the idea of a safe environment. Participants using Interactive Journals should feel comfortable sharing the responses they ve written. As a facilitator, you want to create environments that encourage healthy discussion of Journal content. Take a group environment, for example: In the early stages of a group, participants will not have had much time to develop trust and cohesion. Therefore, the facilitator will want to step in more often to guide how the group will deal with conflict and establish a culture for what is and is not acceptable in the group. If the facilitator can establish effective group communication strategies early, he or she can build the necessary trust that will support healthy and robust group feedback. You also will want to encourage participants to respond to questions based on how they think, feel and behave, rather than responding with what they believe others want to hear. Participants will gain more by having genuine interactions with you and their group members. At times, a group may be asked to provide feedback to an individual participant; that feedback can be a valuable part of the change process. Here too, you can work to establish a safe environment by guiding the group to focus on constructive feedback, and not negative or personal attacks. What s the point of this? My life s been one mess after another. Some participants will have a difficult time staying focused on their current change efforts because they are still thinking about their past behaviors and consequences. This can be especially true of participants with alcohol or drug problems. As individuals explore past choices, facilitators will want to take this information and help participants fit it into the context of the here and now. Focusing on the here and now will also maintain the momentum of the Interactive Journaling curricula, and guide participants to explore their present and future choices. Remind participants of the second and third core questions of Interactive Journaling : How does this apply to my life today? and What steps can I start to take today to make changes? You also can add to these questions in your facilitation to help participants explore their current thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Another strategy to help participants stay focused on the present is to reinforce what positive steps or strategies have worked for them either recently or in the past. Each participant you work with may have valuable information about what specific behavior change techniques have worked for him or her before. Sharing these appropriately, and applying them to their Interactive Journal work can help participants recognize how to go about addressing similar challenges today. Another strategy to help participants stay focused on their current change efforts in their Journals is to serve as a historian of sorts. In this role, you remind participants of the work they ve accomplished so far, and the skills and strategies they ve learned. You might begin each session by reviewing what was covered in the previous session, or what transpired between sessions, or what homework and out-of-session activities were assigned. Acting as the historian can ensure that current behavior change efforts are supported by all of the successful steps that have come before. 7

8 This is dumb. Why do we have to go over this? There may be certain individuals who express frustration or resignation with working in an Interactive Journal. If you encounter these types of resistant or reluctant populations, there are certain strategies you can employ to help both an individual or an entire group stay on track. Let s start by looking at what resistant behavior means here. Resistant Behavior When addressing resistant or reluctant behavior toward journaling work, research shows that an authoritative or confrontational approach is often far less effective than one that works to reestablish a collaborative, therapeutic alliance. This same alliance is supported throughout all foundational strategies of Interactive Journals. Here are some tips to keep in mind when encountering and responding to participant reluctance or resistance: Reflect Think of resistance as a signal to try a different approach. Rather than simply trying to turn up the volume, try helping the individual or group listen and reflect back the stated concern. The more resistant a person seems to be, the more important it is to understand and reflect his or her point of view. Showing your understanding of a participant s resistance doesn t mean you or the group has to agree with it. It is simply one approach to defuse the resistance and invite the individual to be a part of the solution and ongoing discussion. Reframe Look for ways to reframe negative comments into positive opportunities. For example, if someone in a group says, I hate it here. I want to go home, you may respond by saying, It sounds like getting back to your life is important to you. Does anyone else in the group feel like that from time to time? Following this question, you might ask the group, What do you guys do to help cope with these feelings in a healthy way? Refocus If a particular topic seems too hot at the moment for an individual, consider shifting focus, or moving to a different Journal page. You can always come back to that particular page, topic or individual concern at a later time. Rewind Consider whether you took too big a leap in introducing something new to the individual or the group. If there is conflict about a goal, for example, ask yourself if there is a smaller step you could introduce. Refrain Consider responding to resistant behavior with silence. Appropriate use of silence can allow participants to challenge resistant or reluctant behavior. This technique places responsibility on the participants themselves. 8

9 Responsivity Another factor that can contribute to resistance in group is known as responsivity. Responsivity is a way of recognizing that individuals will not respond to a Journal curricula or Journal question in the same way. As a facilitator, you can lower potential resistance by slightly adjusting the way you interact with each individual. Having an awareness of responsivity means being aware of the personal characteristics of someone that may affect his or her ability and motivation to participate. Being aware of these characteristics allows you to modify your approach when the time calls for it. Checking in with your participants regularly also can help you make sure they are benefitting from your style of facilitation and interaction with them. Here are some personal characteristics that might affect an individual s responsivity when working with an Interactive Journaling curriculum. Are there any other characteristics you can think to add to this list? Conclusion/Feedback Great job! Remember, you may choose not to give answers like these when you re actually introducing an Interactive Journal. As a facilitator, one of your main goals is to encourage participants to be empowered agents of their own behavior change efforts. In many cases, this may mean turning a question back around to the asker, or to the group as a whole. While the facilitator has the ultimate responsibility to ensure that participant questions are appropriately addressed, creating positive situations in which group members can offer answers first can help build group cohesion and active peer feedback. Redirecting questions like Why do we have to go over this? so that the group can answer them allows you to keep discussion and activities focused on the participants. It also can challenge the group to work out answers on their own, and take pressure off the facilitator to always have the right answer. So while this session has given you background knowledge on how to answer these types of questions, your own experiences with participants will ultimately help you recognize when to provide supportive information, and when to redirect questions back to the individual or the group. Wrap-up Congratulations! You ve successfully completed the first session of this elearning module on Interactive Journal Facilitation. In the following sessions, you will learn some more specifics of how to plan, lead and divide up an Interactive Journaling session, as well as some specific facilitation techniques that can be helpful when working through an Interactive Journal. Thanks for your participation! 9

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