Reinforce, Refer, Release Paper

Stacey Quinn

University of Phoenix

A clinician has many avenues in their line of work. Not only do they work with clients to solve their problems, but they also help human staff members as well. Just as clients need help with their skills, staff members may also need help from time to time. Helping other staff members gives them ability to grow and reinforce their skills. There will be situations that arise where a human service worker may need outside referrals to address their problems. There will also be cases when a staff member must resign or be terminated. In this paper there will be three different scenarios that I will decide whether to reinforce, refer, or release the staff member.

Tom Martin is a Caucasian male who is 32 years old and he is divorced. He has been working with the agency for four years as an individual counselor for adult clients. One of Tom’s female clients has accused him of making inappropriate sexual comments and buying her gifts. She has also claimed to have had an out-of-office date with Tom. After looking at Mr. Martin’s record I have found a number of complaints and four female clients that terminated counseling from Mr. Martin with no explanation. This is a staff member that I would have to release. As human service workers, we abide by a code of ethics. Clearly Mr. Martin has violated many of those ethics.

A client is to be treated with respect at all times, and sexual or romantic relationships between clients and counselors are strictly prohibited (American Counseling Association, 2005). A full interview with Mr. Martin would be necessary to determine his innocence. I believe paying attention to his nonverbal behavior and posture would convey a lot about his emotions on the subject. He is denying all of the accusations, but does admit to being attracted to the client. He clearly violated the boundaries of personal space and respect with his clients. His inappropriate behavior to these women would need to be addressed, as well as his plan to change those behaviors. The ending and transition processes present in this scenario are giving and eliciting feedback, checking for unfinished business, and announcing the process (Murphy & Dillon, 2003).

The second scenario is a staff member by the name of Janice Wellington. She is 28 years old and of Hispanic ethnicity. She is single and has been working for the agency for two years. Janice is a child and family counselor and displays good therapeutic skills. She is well liked by her clients, but is not always prompt with her client case logs. Janice states that she is feeling unconfident about some of her client situations and is more comfortable working with children, rather than an entire family. Judging by Ms. Wellington’s experience and background, I am recommending reinforcement to improve her skills.

Communication and interviewing skills that are important to this situation are listening for themes in Janice’s story, paying attention to nonverbal behavior, and physical attending. I will need to illicit Janice’s thoughts and feelings towards her client relationships to see where she would need the most training. Also important, are her personal circumstances and her present relationship with her clients. I would need to emphasize her strengths and her resources. Janice will need further training and supervisory support. Through more training she will feel more confident and be able to take on more responsibility. The training reinforcement of self-assessment and peer review will keep Janice’s skills high and allow her to feel more comfortable in a variety of situations (Meyer, 1972).

Her behavior of submitting case logs in an untimely way and without being complete would have to be addressed. We would have to set goals for her to work towards that and set up a contract for her training. An evaluation should be done periodically throughout her reinforcement training to ensure that her skills are improving. The transition issues present in this scenario are acknowledging and exploring reactions, remembering where she began, where she is headed, and where she is now once she has finished.

The last scenario is of Michael Thompson, male, age 32. He is an African-American male and his marital status is married. He has been working for this agency for 16 years as a substance abuse counselor. Mr. Thompson is a recovering addict with 18 years of sobriety under his belt. Mr. Thompson is currently complaining of stress from home and financial obligations. As his manager I know that he is an outstanding and devoted counselor to this agency. He has a good work record, except for some absences and periods of depression. It is important at this stage to refer Michael for outside assistance.

During the interview with Michael the topic of depression and relapse need to be covered. Stress management is another effective tool that will benefit him. Self-disclosure necessary from Michael would be whether he has relapsed, or whether he is contemplating abusing drugs again. We would also need to cover triggers and reinforces of his thoughts and behaviors. Boundaries need be firm between him and his substance abuse clients. It would be in the best interest of everyone for Michael to take some time off and seek treatment. The behaviors that need to be discussed and changed are his absences and his inability to effectively help his clients as well as he used to.

The agency offers an Employment Assistance Program and Policy for the staff members. A part of the program focuses on substance abuse problems with proactive prevention methods (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2000). Goals that would need to be set are Michael taking time off, seeking treatment, attending Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings, and meeting with a counselor to evaluate his finances. A contract would be drawn up with agreement from all parties and an evaluation would take place before Michael came back to work for the agency. Ending and transition issues present in this case are remembering where we began and where Michael is now, evaluate current status, giving and eliciting feedback, and foreshadowing the future. By foreshadowing the future we can discover what Michael anticipates from his treatment and what issues may arise in the future (Murphy & Dillon, 2003).

It will not always be easy to handle all situations in everyone’s favor. There will be tough decisions for me in the future as a human service worker. The important thing is for every case to looked at thoroughly and the best interest of the agency and the client be put into consideration. The strategies of reinforce, refer, and release will be a great tool for me to use in the future.


American Counseling Association. (2005). ACA Code of Ethics. Retrieved November 17, 2009,

from www.counseling,org

Meyer, J. B. (1972). Training Rural High School Counselors in Behavior Reinforcement.

Retrieved November 18, 2009, from

Murphy, B. C., & Dillon, C. (2003). Interviewing in action: Relationship, process, and change.

Brooks/Cole, a division of Thomson Learning, Inc.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2000). Employee Assistance Programs.

Retrieved November 16, 2009, from

Reinforcement 8.7 of 10 on the basis of 4440 Review.