ACA Blog

Chris Allen
May 17, 2011

Week 1: Individual Focus and the TPME Concept

I’ve spent the past couple of months working on laying out the groundwork for Vine & Branch (V&B), the nonprofit that I’m starting. For those of you not familiar with the V&B, the goal is to create a vacation / resort / ranch type setting where Veterans and their family members can receive professional services on site.
During this blog post, I will introduce the reader to the TPME concept, a concept described later in this post.

As you might imagine from the Title, the focus of V&B for week one is Individual in nature. And as all of you know, there are advantages and disadvantages to individual counseling sessions. Advantages include: isolation of issues in a timely manner, un-divided attention between Counselor and Client, goal development speed is increased and a tailored treatment approach is more quickly and accurately developed.

Disadvantages of individual therapy sometimes occur due to a lack of outside influences and interactions with the surrounding community, family, environment, and people in similar situations, etc.. No surprise here for most of you. One of the many goals I want to convey as you read through my week 1 posts is that these disadvantages can be mitigated.

During week one, V&B seeks to maximize the advantages while minimizing the disadvantages. Yes, I know. It sounds cliché to me as well as I write this post.
Week 1 for Jim and Fran (Individual Focus): As you read future posts, please note the number of hours Jim and Fran receive as you look at my posts. Look at the illustrated standard office hours and at what happens in between them. One of the keys, especially for week one, is the sharing of information between V&B Staff Members. Sharing Guest information / updating V&B’s working Vacation Plans (Treatment Plans) will be done during regular Staff Meetings and electronically after both formal and informal sessions / observations on the ranch. All of this information sharing is intended to facilitate the individual counseling experience. I’m really interested in what some of the tech bloggers have to say about what I’m trying to convey, especially with respect to legal considerations.

I want to introduce you to a widely used acronym in the Army community called “TPME.” TPME stands for “Task,” “Purpose,” “Method,” and “End State.” It sounds kind of robotic, but the acronym is really simple and helps me organize my thoughts. I plan on using a similar organizational thought process for data collection / file management and scheduling. Use of TPME will prove to be essential during all three weeks at the V&B , especially during week 1 when honing in on and refining issues and goals is crucial.

In upcoming posts, I will organize my thoughts and example schedules in such a manner so that I can best illustrate what I am trying to convey.

Task = what’s going on? Is it a meeting? Is it a hike? Is it a fishing trip?

Purpose = Why are you doing what it is that you are doing as a Client or Counselor? Why are you taking a hike, asking a question, taking a fishing trip, engaging in a counseling session, etc..?

Method = How are you doing what it is that you are doing? Are you using boat?

End State = what is it that you are desiring to accomplish from what it is that you are doing?

Example: Jim goes fishing with one of our Leisure Focused Counselors (LFC’s)Fred for 3 hours. Bass boat # 3 is reserved by Mel the Trip Plan Facilitator (TPF). The purpose of today’s trip with Fred is to explore some potential sexual dysfunction and anger issues that Jim states that he has. Jim did not feel comfortable discussing these issues with Kamiah (The LPC directly responsible for his case). So, Jim gave Kamiah permission to have Mel schedule the fishing trip with Fred. The goals for this particular trip are multiple.

Note: Please see one of my previous blog posts titled “Rolling out the Model” under the section titled Treatment Staff for a further description of LFC’s and TPF’s.

First, Fred can schedule a medical consult if needed. Second, Fred will end up gathering information that he can share with Kamiah and the rest of the V&B Staff. Jim has already agreed to this kind of information sharing among V&B Staff. Third, Kamiah gains Jim’s trust because she referred Jim to the right guy. Fourth, and just as important as receiving the best professional help possible, I want Jim to have a great time and a great fishing experience.

So, my next blog post will discuss Day’s 0 and 1 of week 1, and I will use the TPME format to do it.



Chris Allen is a counselor and an Army Officer just returning from Afghanistan. He is passionate about developing counseling practices that best address Veterans and their families. Blog comments are not representative of the Army or Department of Defense.

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