The purpose of this research paper will be to develop an action plan that will be used to address an issue that is based on an experience which occurred or is yet to occur during the practice of consultative psychology. Consultative psychology is an area of psychology and psychiatry that focuses on applying psychology when assessing the type of interventions that will be used by individuals or groups during therapy sessions. It is also defined as a function that applies and extends the specialized knowledge of a psychologist by involving the use of consultation so as to derive a useful solution to problems affecting human behavior (Lowman, 2002). Consultative psychologists or consulting psychologists are the individuals who are charged with offering specialized technical assistance to individuals or organizations in need of psychological help.
The work of the consultative psychologist is seen to be advisory in nature and most of their clients include employees or individuals working for private agencies, corporations, not-for-profit companies and other types of organizations (Dougherty, 2009). Consultative psychologists mostly offer professional services to their clients where they assist the consultee with a work-related problem. The main goal of consultative psychology is to consult individuals and organizations as a whole so as to become more efficient and effective in their roles (Lowman, 2002). Consultative psychology came into existence in 1921 after the American Psychological Association recommended the formation of a consulting psychology section that would see consultative psychologists being certified. This however saw the ban of the clinical psychology section which led to a group of unsatisfied clinicians forming their own organization for consultative psychology known as the New York State Association for Consulting Psychology. The APA’s program for certifying consulting psychologists was during this time experiencing difficulties as only 24 psychologists had applied for certificates during the first two years of the program. The association’s membership was also experiencing a slow growth than was expected which was mostly attributed to the high standards set by APA for becoming a certified psychologist (Reisman, 1991).
In 1924, the section of consultative psychology developed by APA changed to become a division and after the APA became a corporation in 1925, it had the sole authority of developing standards that would be used by all fields of psychology that fell under the association. Since the APA had become a corporation, it was able to initiate growth in all the major fields of psychology including consultative psychology. All sections and divisions were incorporated into APA with the sole purpose of relieving individual members from any financial responsibility that came from publishing or producing journals for psychological review. The association set the requirements for membership to be a PhD in psychology as well as full-time work in the field of psychology (Reisman, 1991).
The issue that will be addressed by consultative psychology is managing the change process of government to private sector employment. Managing the change process within organizations is an important activity mostly because of the different effects change has on people within the organization. Change in organizations requires employees to adapt to different systems and techniques of performing their jobs. Change can either be positive or negative depending on the type of restructuring that will take place in the organization as a result of the change situation. It might lead to corporate restructuring where work roles are changed to reflect the change situation within the organization and it might also lead to downsizing or layoffs where employees are laid off as part of changing the organizational system of operations. To ensure that there are no negative repercussions, the process of change has to be managed in an effective way (Lorenzi & Riley, 2000).
Moving from government to private sector employment is a major change in itself on an individual and organizational level. While some employees do not experience any problem with moving from government employment to private sector employment, others find the change to be challenging as the work environments and work duties are different. One of the major challenges that face employees who have joined the private sector from the federal government employ is the lack of appropriate preparation for the change which might lead to most of the employees being unable to adjust to their new work environment. Being unable to psychologically prepare themselves for the transition might create problems for them as they try to adjust to the new system of working within the private sector (Khan, 2011). This research paper will therefore seek to develop an action plan that will involve the use of consultative psychology to manage the change process of shifting from government to private sector employment.
Consultation Model and Skills Needed
There are various models or theories that are used in consultative psychology and some of these include client centered case consultation models, consultee-centered case consultation models, consultee centered administrative consultation, behavioral consultation which is also known as the behavioral-operant model and organization consultation. The client centered case consultation model focuses on providing other people with advice on how best to help an individual client. In this model, the consultative psychologist assesses the client after which they make a diagnosis and recommendation on how the consultee can modify their dealings with their client. The consultee centered case consultation focuses on helping the consultee to identify any difficulties that they might be experiencing as well as allowing them to build new skills so that they can remediate their shortcomings (Harvey & Struzziero, 2008).
The consultee centered administrative model focuses on improving the professional functions of the members of administrative staff where the consultative psychologist works with the organization on a long-term basis. The behavioral consultation or operant model involves offering indirect problem solving services by offering recommendations related to problem identification and resolution. The consultative psychologist is the main authoritative figure since he/she assumes the main responsibility for the consultation relationship. The organization consultation model requires the consultative psychologist to offer recommendations on the relationship that exists between the organization and its internal-external environments (Dougherty, 2009). The consultation model that will be used for the action plan will be the consultee centered administrative consultation because it addresses the improvement of the professional functioning of members in administrative duties within the organization.
The skills that will be needed by the consultative psychologist to carry out the consultee centered administration model will include communication skills, decision making capabilities, transparency and openness, good interpersonal skills, a strong commitment towards developing a relationship with the consultee, conflict management skills, administrative skills, change management knowledge and good listening skills. These will allow the consultative psychologist to come up with suitable recommendations and solutions that will help the employee shifting from government to private sector employment to adjust properly to their new work environment.
Change is a constant occurrence in an individual’s professional and private life. Because of the constant changes, the world is experiencing as a result of globalization and climatic changes, individuals have been forced to change their mode of living to adjust to the prevailing environmental conditions. Organizations are subject to many changes in the course of their operations as many managers seek to improve the performance of their businesses to remain relevant in the harsh economic climate. Some of the changes that organizations might experience include mergers and acquisitions, buyouts, downsizing or layoffs, business expansion, business process re-engineering and managerial or corporate restructuring. It is important for many managers within organizations to engage in change management activities to ensure that employees do not experience the adverse effects of the change management process (Lorenzi & Riley, 2000).
Change management is defined as the process that is used by an organization to move from the current state to the future state. It involves developing appropriate strategies that will be used by the organization and its various players to achieve the desired state of change. Change management activities are important for an organization because they help in dealing with the feelings of uncertainty, resentment and fear that most employees have with relation to the change (Paton et al, 2008). The situation that warrants the effective management of change is the shift from government to private sector employment for employees working under administrative functions.
In recent years, there has been an upward trend of public or government sector employees shifting to the private sector with very few private sector employees opting to go and work in the government sector. This upward trend has mostly been attributed to the kind of work skills employees are able to gain in private companies. According to a French survey on why public sector employees shift to the private sector, 70 percent of the respondents termed skills development and career progression for private sector employees to be much better than those for public or civil servants. The career progression opportunities offered by companies in the private sector as well as better compensation benefits have seen many public sector employees shifting to the private sector (Bertok, 2010).
The shift from government to private employment is not an easy one because of the different work environments that exist in both sectors. For example, the goals and objectives of organizations operating in either of the sectors are different where the goals and mission for government offices focus on performing work duties for the betterment of the citizens and general population served by the government office while those of private organizations are focused more on the overall development of the organization. The responsibilities and duties of civil servants are directed towards improving the lives of average citizens while the duties of private sector employees are mostly confined to performing the business operations of the company (Bertok, 2010).
Moving between sectors has been identified as one of the most demanding career changes an individual will ever make in their professional life. Shifting from the government to the private sector presents a lot of challenges to individual employees in the event they have not prepared adequately for the transition. It requires developing a particular mindset so as to prepare for the change process and it also requires an individual to have the ability of navigating the workplace culture in the new area of work. Leaving public employment is a major hurdle for many employees to complete because they are faced with a whole new system of performing their work duties. This means that they have to engage in change management activities that will allow them to quickly adapt to the new organization’s work culture (Bertok, 2010).
According to Khan (2011), employees who have shifted from government to private sector employment are usually targeted to work in administrative areas such as business development where they are engaged in sales and marketing activities and in program management where they oversee the projects or programs the company is involved in. In these capacities, they might experience role challenges especially when they have to conduct post-public employment lobbying to government institutions using their capacities as private sector employees. They might also experience conflicts when they are forced by circumstance to use sensitive information which they were privy to during their public employment period to advance in the public sector work environment (Bertok, 2010).
Other challenges that public servant employees might experience as they adapt to private sector employment is the conflict of interest which arises when trying to address the interests of the organization while at the same time addressing public interests. Public servant employees who have changed to become private sector employees in their previous capacities developed their work goals to meet public interests as was required from their public duty. They might therefore experience a conflict of interest when they have to reconcile the need to serve public interests with the need to address the private interests of the various clients and customers of the organization. The public and private capacity interests might make it difficult for these employees to reconcile their roles within the organization (OECD, 2004). It therefore becomes important to manage this change process effectively through the use of techniques such as the consultee centered administrative consultation to ensure that the transitioning employees do not experience any challenges during their work shift.
Consultee centered administrative consultation will ensure employees shifting from public to government employment are able to adapt to their new work place environments without experiencing any strain or stress. This model of consultation focuses on improving the professional functions of administrative staff and other employees within the organization. The role of the consultative psychologist in the consultee centered administrative consultation is to actively identify and assess any problems the employee might have when performing their work. The consultative psychologist might also direct their efforts towards improving the overall health of the organization by discussing with managers on how they can be able to develop systems that will promote the mental well being of new employees (Erchul & Martens, 2010).
Proposed Consultation Project
The setting of the consultation project will be within a private company that has recently hired public servants to fill the various administrative positions that became available as a result of expansion activities by the company. The clients or consultees who will be placed under the consultation will be new employees who were previously employed in the government or public service sector. While all new employees to the organization can be included into the consultation, it is primarily targeted at the public service employees to ensure they do not experience any role conflicts when performing their work duties. The purpose and objective of the consultee centered administrative consultation will be to improve the professional functioning of the new members of staff in the private organization to ensure they do not experience any problems with their new work environment. The strategies that will be used to perform the consultation will focus on building communication and trust in the consultees who have been included in the consultative program.
The tasks that will be used during the consultative sessions will involve identifying the kind of problems that the new employees are experiencing while performing their work duties. According to Lambert et al (2004), development within an organization usually grows from problems, dilemmas or conflicts that warrant some form of intervention. Identifying the problem will ensure the consultative psychologist is able to design the most suitable intervention or recommendation that can be used to address the problems. The next task will involve discussing the problem from different aspects so that the consultees can be able to verbalize their thoughts, feelings and perceptions on the problems or conflicts they are going through while performing their work duties.
During the discussion, the consultative psychologist helps the consultees to differentiate between the realistic and unrealistic problems that they are facing so that they can be able to identify the interaction that their role has with the overall role of the organization as a whole. The psychologist has to be competent for him or her to effectively lead the employees to secure boundaries of job performance. Once this task has been successfully completed, the next step will involve coming to a decision where employees have the tolerance to withstand any frustration or chaos that they might experience while executing their duties. The psychologist has to ensure that the consultees come to decisions that will offer perfect solutions to their problems after which these solutions are implemented to initiate conceptual change on the part of the employee (Lambert et al, 2004). The time line that will be needed to complete these tasks will range between two to three months after the new employees have been properly inducted into the organization.
The data collection techniques that will be used to evaluate whether the consultative psychology was successful in properly addressing the problems of the former public service employees will include follow-up personal interviews where they be will assessed on whether they were successful in implementing the solutions to their problems, questionnaires that have been designed to find out whether the employees have been able to address conflicts with their role and observation where the new employees are observed while they are performing their work duties. The multicultural considerations that will have to be considered during the consultation sessions will include cultural backgrounds, religious affiliations and gender issues which might need to be incorporated in the consultation program.
Challenges and limitations of performing the project will be unwilling employees who do not want to take part in the consultation process. Some employees might see the consultee administrative consultation model to be a waste of time mostly because of the lengthy duration that will be needed to complete the consultation process. The private company’s managers might also be unwilling to recommend their employees for this process because of the fear that it might take up a lot of their work time making it difficult for them to meet their targets. The follow up activities that can be used by the psychologists to ensure that the employees have been able to adjust properly to their new roles in the company include planned visits to monitor the employee in their work environment as they perform their work duties and inviting the employee for individual consultative sessions to gauge their progress within the new organization.
The ethical considerations that the consultative psychologist has to make when addressing the concerns of the employees during the consultation project will include maintaining the level of confidentiality to ensure sensitive information is maintained between the consultant and consultee. They also have to gain the informed consent of their consultees before they engage in any consultative activities. Informed consent holds that the participation of the consultees has to be a voluntary decision once the purpose, nature, risks and benefits of the consultation have been explained to the consultee. The consultative psychologists have to ensure that they do not abuse their power while addressing the concerns of the consultee. They have to ensure that there is an equal distribution of power between the consultant and consultee. The psychologists also have to acknowledge any preexisting relationships that they might have with other organizational members and also ensure that these relationships do not inhibit the fulfillment of their professional obligations (Newman & Robinson, 1993).
The research paper has focused on how consultative psychology can be used to address the management of a change process; shifting from public to private sector employment which presents various challenges to the affected employees. The research has been able to identify various important points which can be used to address periods of transition for individuals experiencing some form of change in their personal lives. The consultee centered administrative consultation could be used in a context where an individual is moving from a period of turmoil to one of relative peace. In the event they find problems adjusting to their new situations, the consultative centered model can be used to help them during the transition process. The consultation model can also be used in a school setting where children who are experiencing difficulties during learning exercises are able to implement the steps used in the consultation model to develop a suitable learning program for themselves.
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