Saturday, March 25, 2006

Use of Self

The use of self is central to a relationship based approach. Staff and therapists speak from their hearts. Instead of saying "If you run away you will be restricted for a week and lose your privileges" staff will say "if you run away I will be scared, I will worry about your safety. I will have to keep you closer to me because our trust will be broken". Staff is encouraged to evaluate their work by what they do, not by what the kids do. We utilize The Attitude, described by Daniel Hughes in Building the Bonds of Attachment ( The elements of The Attitude are: Playful, Loving, Accepting, Curious and Empathetic. PLACE. Staff explore what these elements mean to them, which are easier, which harder. Any day in which staff have approached the children with the Attitude is a successful day. It is up to the adults to structure an environment around the children which maximizes their chance for success: organized, predictable, reliable, calm.
Developing related teams is essential every effort is made to nurture teams in which people can talk freely about their own reactions to the children, and can challenge each other. If one team member seems caught in a power struggle or stressed out, another team member will tag them out and take over for a while. It is considered a strength for a team member to say they know they have lost their sense of what to do and ask for help. This type of team work is enhanced through meetings, retreats, parties, recognition events, staff recognition boxes which are read out weekly, and individual and group supervision.
We can only relate to the kids as well as we relate to each other. Or, to quote a phrase I heard at a training once: if you don't feed the caretakers they will eat the children.

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