Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fear of Change (or lack thereof)

I have a neighbour who grew up in this same community. He goes to the same church he went to as a child. He does not travel anywhere other than the cabin he bought near the cabin he went to as a child. He does not have Internet access at home. He is most comfortable in a world that stays the same.

I know other people who have moved several times. They change jobs on a regular basis. They love to travel to different places. They adopt early technology. They seem to crave change, and look forward to new experiences.

Neither one of these approaches is better or worse than the other, but I believe this continuum of how much change a person desires is an important thing to be aware of. Being aware of it has helped me to understand and work with others, as well as to modify my own approach.

When working with clients, it is important to know a client's comfort level with change, in order to plan "just right challenges". I had one client who avoided change as much as possible (he had his hair cut at the same place for 20 years), and he was being asked to move out and live independently. What an incredibly stressful situation for him. Part of the intervention plan included helping him establish new routines, because following routines was how he made it through each day. It was also very important that he find an apartment in the same neighbourhood.

I have realized that I love change and I seek it out. Not as much as some people, but more than most. Knowing this has helped me appreciate where co-workers are coming from. I love trying new approaches and treatment modalities. Some other people like to do things the way they have done them for the last 20 years. I think the key is to find a balance, and to use the evidence and research as a guide for whether we should be changing our practices.

Because I love change, I have to be careful that I am not advocating for change just for the sake of change. I have to be extra careful that the change I am wanting is actually supported by solid evidence. I have to be careful to investigate why things are done the way they are currently done. If the same needs are not met by a new way of doing things, it is doomed to fail. I also need to understand that other people may feel threatened by the change, and need time to adjust to the idea, and that is OK. Sometimes it can be a good thing to not jump into things right away.

I have found that when people are presented with enough convincing evidence, they usually come around eventually. If I cannot provide that convincing evidence, perhaps the change should not occur (no matter how much I want it).

Are you a change-seeker, a change-avoider, or somewhere inbetween?

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