How do I know what homework to assign?

Without proper homework, counseling will usually fail. There are three fundamental purposes for giving homework assignments. These are:

  1. To put into practice commitments and to solidify gains,
  2. To correct failures,
  3. To gather data.

The third one of these has been discussed elsewhere in this book. I shall simply add here that at any time when a matter is uncertain because of seeming lack of data, assigning homework designed to ferret out more data is always appropriate. Doing so may involve asking the counselee to make lists, to have him interview other persons, to bring in certain records, etc.

The second reason for assigning homework is to correct failed actions. These assignments may require one to go to another, confess his sins and seek forgiveness. They may be designed to have a person redo some assignment that he failed to do properly, and so forth.

Perhaps the most frequently-given assignment is the follow-through assignment in which after a commitment made in counseling (or to another person) the counselee begins to do what the commitment requires. It may also be given in stages, if that is the way that the counselee must learn to do accomplish it. So, one week he begins with an assignment for stage one, the next week he is told "Continue doing what you did last week, but also do this as well." And. So on, until the assignment -- stretched out over several weeks because it is too great to do in one week -- is completed. In continuing the first assignments, while adding further ones, gains from the original assignment are solidified. You must use wisdom in assigning homework, learning how much to give to whom for what purposes. And homework must be given in logical sequence, each assignment growing out of the previous one, when the two are integrally related.

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