Background

Dr. Wolf Wolfensberger developed the concept of model coherency in the late 1960’s. Wolfensberger writes that the construct of model coherency evolved from an idea that he learned from Lloyd Dunn, chair of the Department of Special Education at George Peabody College for Teachers, where Wolfensberger studied (Wolfensberger, W. (1999). A contribution to the history of Normalization, with primary emphasis on the establishment of Normalization in North America between 1967-1975. In R.J. Flynn & R. Lemay (Eds.), A quarter-century of normalization and Social Role Valorization: Evolution and impact. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 51-116.). In 1959 and 1961, Dunn proposed that the prevalent ‘total’ institutions for mentally retarded people be replaced by smaller, dispersed, specialized institutions–based on the different identities and needs of people (Wolfensberger, 1999, 75-76).

Both Wolfensberger and Thomas note that the construct was first described as service specialization, before being renamed and reconceptualized as model coherency in 1974 or 1975 (Wolfensberger, 1999, 63, 76; Thomas, S. (1999). Historical background and evolution of Normalization-related and Social Role Valorization-related training. In R.J. Flynn & R. Lemay (Eds.), A quarter-century of normalization and Social Role Valorization: Evolution and impact. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 362). Wolfensberger described specialization in this way: “different services would provide different things to different people, according to their needs” (Wolfensberger, 1999, 63).

Wolfensberger writes that the idea of specialization influenced the 1968 Nebraska State Plan for mental retardation services (Wolfensberger, 1999, 76). The idea also appeared as the construct of service specialization in the 1973 PASS Field Manual by Wolfensberger and Glenn. Specialization had a distinct meaning in PASS, namely: “that the service provides a coherent program in which a number of variables combine harmoniously so as to meet the specific needs of each client at that particular time of his life” (Field Manual, 31). These variables included:

  • client characteristics (further broken down into: a) client grouping by cultural norms, and b) client grouping by age-appropriate behavior)
  • the human management model
  • manpower identity
  • program content
  • program process

It is easy to see the roots of model coherency in the concept of specialization. The longer description of specialization in the 1973 Field Manual (pp. 31-36) also touches on elements of what Social Role Valorization (SRV) describes as the culturally valued analogue (CVA).

  • Wolfensberger, W., & Glenn, L. (1973). Program Analysis of Service Systems (PASS): A method for the quantitative evaluation of human services. Vol. 1. Handbook (2nd ed.). Toronto: National Institute on Mental Retardation.
  • Wolfensberger, W., & Glenn, L. (1973). Program Analysis of Service Systems (PASS): A method for the quantitative evaluation of human services. Vol. 2. Field manual (2nd ed.). Toronto: National Institute on Mental Retardation.

In the 3rd edition of PASS, service specialization was renamed as model coherency. From the PASS 3 Field Manual: “The rating of ‘Model coherency’ is concerned with whether a number of variables within a program combine harmoniously so as to meet the specific needs of each client at that particular time of his life. Another way to draw the issue is to ask: are the right people working with the right clients, who are properly grouped, doing the right thing, using the right methods, and consistently so?” (Field Manual, 35). The variables are the same as in the 1973 edition, although program content is additionally described as ‘what’ and program process as ‘how.’

  • Wolfensberger, W., & Glenn, L. (1975). Program Analysis of Service Systems (PASS): A method for the quantitative evaluation of human services. Vol. 1. Handbook (3rd ed.). Toronto: National Institute on Mental Retardation.
  • Wolfensberger, W., & Glenn, L. (1975). Program Analysis of Service Systems (PASS): A method for the quantitative evaluation of human services. Vol. 2. Field manual (3rd ed.). Toronto: National Institute on Mental Retardation.

The concept of model coherency is relevant to:

  • teaching SRV
  • service assessment
  • service design

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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