Working in a caring field is all about the relationship and the value that one receives from giving to others. Calo is no exception. It is often difficult to explain to others the value which the students bring to those who tirelessly give of themselves in order to bring productive change to lives (student and family). Others quite frequently observe the dedication and the difficulty which this profession demands and ask, What is the return for all the investment?
The answer is sometimes elusive and many times unclear because of the commitment and the amount of care and emotional investment which the occupation demands. Plain and simple, the students often come into treatment and have had extremely difficult and traumatic lives which produce resistance, fear, anger, self-destructive behavior, and outright disrespect. Appropriately dealing with these types of emotional and behavioral displays becomes draining not only for the family, but for the staff and therapist.
Again, onlookers inquire, What is the return on being committed to a relationship approach which is not so focused on efficiency, but long term change and takes a while to get there? The answer continues to be faint and barely visible in the distance when families are hurting and the student is pushing away and verbalizing their anger in extremely painful ways. It can even become increasingly demanding when students revert to self-destructive behaviors and staff remain vigilant to provide safety and Trust of Care, yet fear, anger, and shame pervade. These become difficult times because parents have existed in this emotional and behavioral state for sometime leading up to placement.
With the inevitable question looming (What is the return?), the answer becomes increasingly clear with every empathetic connection and opportunity to experience real relationship development with the parents and student. In the midst of those difficult times, we step back and reflect that we took the opportunity to reach out and push ourselves to give to others in unique ways which dramatically impact lives. Though the student may reject it and be excruciatingly disrespectful, the staff recognizes that these are the very situations which become the definitive moments of authentic care and change (for student and family). The emotional and behavioral breakdowns which can be constant and repeating become the foundation for which the relationship is able to evolve and that becomes a huge part of the personal return.
The return from being at Calo is immense. Though it requires longevity and commitment to a lasting and safe relationship (with student and family), the return becomes about the journey and the ability to give to others in ways which are intrinsically meaningful and long lasting. Yes, there is incredible return when you hear of the success of former students who are able to say that they feel valuable and are functioning in relationships as well as being productive in society, but this really becomes reinforcement and return that the difficult times are the ones that become the foundation for real change.
When asked about the return, the answer becomes more about the investment and commitment rather than the profit. The return is so great because we get to experience that the dedication, consistency, and difficulty become the joy of the journey and the profit inevitably comes.