Interaction Consultants > Understanding Collaborative Team Models

Posted on July 21, 2013


From Gary Direnfield, MSW, RSW:

Four team models evolved over those years in the health and mental health literature. The four models arise depending on if other professionals are invited to participate and how these other professionals are then organized to participate once invited. The four team models are unidisciplinary, multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary.

The unidisciplinary team applied to collaborative family practice has as its core members, two lawyers and respective clients. It is best depicted in the following graphic:

The multidisciplinary model has been referred to by some Collaborative Family Practitioners as the “referral model” where the lawyers refer out to family or financial professionals. Herein, the clients go and meet with the respective professionals and their input in brought back to the 4-way meetings between lawyers and clients, by way of written report or verbal conveyance through either the lawyers or the clients. The family and financial professionals thus provide information from a distance to the core team. This model is best depicted with the following graphic:

The interdisciplinary model builds on the multi-disciplinary where the respective outside family or financial professionals are invited to have a seat at the negotiation table to share their inputs directly and stand available to discuss matters relative to their insights and data. This model minimizes the risk of “broken telephone”, the inadvertent loss or restructuring of information when passed through multiple hands. Here the data is delivered directly and hence the integrity of the data is unadulterated. As a result, the data is not subject to misinterpretation and by virtue of the professionals’ availability at the table, they can speak immediately to issues or points of clarification or even aid in the development of creative solutions. This model is best depicted with this graphic:

In the transdisciplinary model, the respective professionals not only have a seat at the negotiation table, but with expansive knowledge and value of the other professional team members, their roles and as a result of mutual sharing of information such that all are now privy to the full data, they are able to intelligently discuss and input using the data and insights of their colleagues.

Hence a family professional discussing potential parenting paradigms can do so mindful of any financial challenges that may intervene with an otherwise well-intentioned plan. With all professionals at the table and mutual sharing of data and a deep understanding and appreciation of pertinent issues, the quality of problem solving can be improved upon from other team models. The transdisciplinary model is best depicted with this graphic:

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