An agency is working on a plan to track the completion of the Carey Guides internally and is debating if credit should be given for each tool completed or for completion of an entire Guide. Underlying their decision is the question “Are clients expected to complete all the tools in a Carey Guide before moving on to the next Guide?” We’ve broken our response into two parts:
Does one need to go from the first tool to the next tool in the Guides? The Guides are built with the idea that an individual is likely pre-contemplative or contemplative when they start. So, the first tool gets them thinking about the issue, taking stock of their life as it relates to the topic, and—in some cases—doing a mini self-assessment. The tools then moves into skill-building and maintenance, where appropriate. That said, no one person is alike, and we understand that it may be useful to begin at a different stage in the Guide sequence, as determined by a client’s motivation level and circumstance.
Is it acceptable practice to skip around from Guide to Guide with an individual client? We strongly recommend that work on criminogenic needs/skill deficits be done with the proper intensity/dosage. Skimming across topics too quickly does not create long-lasting change. “Going deep” and working on a major criminogenic need over a few months is better than addressing one issue or another for short periods of time. The number of times one has to repeat a skill before it becomes muscle memory is significant. So, that is our caution about moving from Guide to Guide too quickly. The exception to this would be when someone has already worked on their driver (the criminogenic need that is at the root of their illegal behavior) and is now simply picking up some additional skills that would help them. In that case, you might select various tools from various Guides and put together a customized package of tools/skills.
This issue makes tracking Carey Guide usage a bit challenging. Agencies could track the use of each tool (generally a good idea), but it would also be important to know if case workers are skipping around the various Guides, in which case there may be a concern about dosage (“going deep”).