Side by Side in the Larger Community

Posted on April 23, 2012
Transitional Employment affords Fountain House members the opportunity to work at some of NYC's most prestigious companies.Transitional Employment affords Fountain House members the opportunity to work at some of NYC's most prestigious companies.The goal of side by side practice at Fountain House is mastery and increased self-efficacy. In order to achieve this goal the work of the Fountain House community must be needed, and the members involved must have a positive and successful experience.

Transitional Employment is a program developed by the Fountain House working community to give members the opportunity to experience success on a job in the general community. In the Transitional Employment program, the job is real, the employer is real, the pay is real, and the requirements for successful participation are real. Each Transitional Employment placement has six month duration and usually has a four hour a day requirement. Although these jobs are guaranteed for use by the working community, each member applicant must go through an abbreviated interview process.

The need for member’s successful participation in Transitional Employment is dramatically apparent. When first approached, the prospective employer is asked to give the Fountain House working community a job that can be learned in a relatively short period of time. The community guarantees it will be competently covered, year round; staff are prepared to protect the working community’s ownership of the job, if need be, by doing the job themselves. Clearly, this creates a need in the working community for members able and willing to take on these work placements.

When members take on a job placement they are usually aware that they represent the Fountain House working community, that their performance will protect the job for use by other members, and that this job - in which they learn the generic qualities of a work place - is a step in their own personal growth. The theme of simultaneously doing for others and for oneself is played out as a value and practice in all working community activities and projects. This practice value has treatment implications as a motivator of behavior, because for some, doing for others can be easier than doing for themselves.

How does the need to belong fit in? Read Julie's previous blog post.

The second requirement of side by side practice is that the member experience success in the work. Staff workers are the first to learn the work and the employers’ requirements, so they are able to employ most of the side by side practice process while training members on the job. They can correct fearful thoughts, give reasons for the work, clarify goals, utilize other members who have previously mastered the job, give honest and supportive feedback, and generalize the specific skills inherent in the job to other work or situations. After mastery has been achieved and self efficacy has been increased, the worker and the member can discuss the next progressive step.

Julius Lanoil
Education and Wellness Consultant, Fountain House

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