Encouraging Trust from Participants

A question was asked by a State representative at a recent OFA Regional Workshop: How do you encourage trust from participants to communicate freely on barriers such as substance use in order to best meet their needs? What promising methods do you use to endear that trust?
Record Type: 
Question / Response(s)
September 2018
  • TANF Program Administration
    • Case Management


10 Oct, 2018

A representative from Robbin and Associates recommends one strategy to their client agencies: ask people who received substance abuse services from them to speak about how the agencies have helped them. These individuals can be included in orientations, where their comments can be videotaped and viewed during Job Clubs or individual counseling sessions. Also, agencies can ask individuals to call in and talk about the help they received that enabled them to move past substance use; role models are much more powerful than information in dealing with most barriers.

Agencies can also provide a list titled “Common Challenges We Help People Overcome,” which lists the most common barriers that are difficult for people to face on their own. Seeing these barriers on a list makes people realize that they are not alone, and that agencies have experience helping people with these challenges; this makes it easier to discuss barriers after agencies "normalize" them in this way. It is important to think of the process of opening up about a barrier as a gradual journey that can be helped along with role models, proactively raising the barrier, and nudges, as opposed to assuming that one conversation or point in time will get people to open up about the barrier.

Robbin and Associates
District of Columbia
05 Nov, 2018

A representative from the D.C. Department of Human Services explains that although D.C. does struggle with this issue, its TANF program is designed to provide services in a non-threatening environment, it meets customers where they are, and is focused on supporting rather than penalizing. The program provides staff training in strength-based interviewing, includes no time limit, and imposes a minimal sanction for non-participation of up to 6%. The program’s basic philosophy is based on a platform of trust and the belief that customers want to engage.

Department of Human Services

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