How Are Your “Filters” working?

Having just returned from APSE’s annual national conference, I am reflecting on the quality of the workshops attended and the many amazing individuals I met. The theme of this year’s conference,   “Employment First: What A Capital Idea”,  emphasized the  standard of employment for all and self sufficiency a goal.  As a professional in the field this was a conference of mind opening possibilities.

The most impactful workshop attended dealt with the subtle issues of breaking out of poverty and moving into the middle class. This pre-conference workshop  ran for four hours.  Debra Whitehead, presenter, material was based on the book “Bridges Out of Poverty”.

The concept of moving successfully from one class to another is tied to the reality that each socio-economic class has certain unspoken social/behavioral norms that determine an individual’s success in integrating into a higher socio-economic group.  These norms are learned thru assimilation in a socio-economic group since childhood.  Language style and behavioral expectations are learned through the environment.  Language usage is a key component to successfully “moving up”.

It is accepted that most of us  respond through the filters of our own experiences. Many times we are unaware of the filters that influence our evaluation of situations and others.  This information is critical to assure effective and honest outcomes on our part in assisting others to be all that they can be.

Given the commitment made by professionals working in supported employment to assist others in reaching self sufficiency, there is a need to know the specifics of societal expectations, the norms within which the professional works and the background that drives the client’s behavior.  This information identifies the types of additional education or training needed to be truly successful on the job outside of one’s normal circle.

The book’s material is well organized and presented in a number of tables and charts that help the reader identify their filters.  The last four chapters explore the impact of these filters on the supported employment professional and other human services professions.  The material discusses how our services can be better delivered and sustained.

If you are ready for an Aha! experience as well as  information that can help you have  an enhanced impact in your profession, I suggest you go to for more information.  A great summer read……

July 2012