When defining the goal of treatment, Calo focuses on living INTERDEPENDENTLY through establishing a foundation of Trust of Care, Trust of Control, and Trust of Self. Within these elements exists the emotional goal which is most accurately represented by the term Acceptance. Authentic acceptance is the emotional goal and often becomes sabotaged by trauma, abandonment, negative core beliefs, and feelings of worthlessness. These emotional factors create behaviors which serve to push others away, create anger, lack of empathy, aggression, self-harm, and a host of other destructive actions. All three of the factors (Behavior, Emotion, and Acceptance) make up the framework for reaching “The Emotional Goal”.
The Emotional Goal diagram (see below) is a template used with staff, parents, and therapist to effectively create interactions which are meaningful, safe, and purposeful.
Behavior Manage/Recognize Behavior (provide safety)
EMOTION IDENTIFY EMOTION (curiosity, non-judgmental)
ACCEPTANCE IMPLEMENT ACCEPTANCE (safe touch, attunement)
The diagram portrays the movement of interaction as going from behavior, through emotion, and reaching the goal of acceptance. Since all interactions between individuals begin at the behavioral level, it becomes the starting point of being able to move toward identifying emotions. Often, the parent/guardian has been able to recognize the behavior and then the interaction with the child becomes about altering the behavior through a rational appeal (advice/lecturing) which is authentically caring but ineffective.
The Emotional Goal diagrams that the interaction needs to move from the behavior to appropriate recognition of emotions (sadness, shame, rejection, anger, etc.). Identification of emotion is facilitated through the use of active listening, reflection, empathy, curiosity, and a heart of peace. Once the emotions have safely been identified, then the interaction and relationship can move toward the most powerful agent of change, Acceptance.
Acceptance is achieved through the experience of attunement and authentically sharing in the previously identified emotions. Creating acceptance requires the interaction to move to a place of vulnerability and for the parent, guardian, staff, and therapist, to implement safe touch, matching of affect, selfless empathy, unconditional regard, safe boundaries (vertical relationship), and permission to feel. Acceptance is action based and relies on the experience not just the words.
Again and again, the students at Calo reaffirm that what they truly desire is to be accepted and that their behaviors are a result of their feeling of being unacceptable. The Emotion Goal approach creates the experience of acceptance and allows for interaction to become about personal value and worth versus shame associated with strictly trying to change behaviors.