Coming In June: Making It Real, a Unique Course

Making It Real is a unique course- there is nothing else like it. It is NOT a course in which individuals go through the course and get some new knowledge about trauma and how it affects the brain. Those courses are very valuable.

But that’s not what this is.

Making It Real is a course for a TEAM to IMPROVE THEIR TREATMENT. As a team, you work through it together. You learn from the videos. The Resources enlarge your options and possibilities.

And then you take action.

Every implementation plan starts with exploration and discussion for the team. Then, the team makes a plan, describes the action steps, decides who will take the lead, and sets a review date.

Then they take action!

The power is in the thinking and the discussion. And the super power is in the action. You actually change what you do. And your treatment becomes more effective, produces better results, and you have more satisfied and fulfilled employees.

That is a REAL change.

Crucial Questions in Changing Behavior Three: Discipline and Relationships

Unhappy Teenage Boy Ignoring His Angry Parents

A therapist asked the following question:

“I am often called onto the floor to intervene with a kid who is acting up. I take on the role of the child care workers. I end up giving him consequences. When that happens how can I preserve my relationship with him, and not seem to him like just one more person trying to manage his behavior?”

I was struck by what I see as dangerous assumptions beneath that question, which I will exaggerate for purposes of discussion. I think in fact these assumptions often do underlie our thinking and actions in treatment programs.

This question assumes that the therapist has a special healing relationship with the child, which would be threatened by the therapist addressing the boy’s behavior in the normal way of the program. The child care workers, on the other hand, are expected to address behavior routinely and so whatever relationship they have with the child is expendable. They are those people who are just trying to manage behavior.

I would propose that there should be no people in a treatment program “just trying to manage behavior”. The first priority of every person who interacts with the child should be to form, maintain and strengthen their relationship with the child. Every relationship can be healing. Every relationship is important.

I would also suggest that none of us, whatever our role, should ever be just managing behavior. Of course, in a crisis one has to direct traffic to restore safety. But with regard to any individual child, our constant focus should be to understand the meaning and adaptive function of every symptom, and teach the child more positive ways to meet those same needs. Our programs, and all our staff, should in every way promote a sense of safety and caring. We do not ignore behavior or remain paralyzed as the child becomes increasingly upset and out of control. We intervene actively and constantly from our base of relationship to help the child calm down, and, when he is calm, to figure out how to get what he needs. Our goal is not to control his behavior. It is to help him to feel calm and safe enough to try new ways of meeting his needs.

I seriously believe that everyone in the program should be thinking this way- every child care worker, every therapist, and every teacher. Everyone should be engaged with the child from a carefully formed relationship. Naturally, the child may be angry, unappreciative, nasty, upset and uncooperative with any one of the many people on his team. Any one should then acknowledge and validate his feelings, and (when he is calm enough to hear) share their experience of whatever happened from their heart.

When we acknowledge the central importance of all the relationships between the child and the team members; when we truly believe that the child is doing the best he can; when we see symptoms as adaptive; when we react by helping the child to learn better ways to meet his needs: then we can all do all parts of the job of treating and raising these children, and we can all enrich our relationships as we do them.

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