Relational, Attachment-Based Treatment Model: The change agent is relationships
Calo espouses a true relational approach to create change from the inside out, heart first and behavior second. Our treatment model is founded on attachment theory and extensive research. Our interventions focus on creating authentic connections and meaning with others. There are no time-outs, we believe in time-in-closeness with trusted caretakers when emotions are running high. We believe that fairness is getting what you need whether you "earn" it or not. In short, we believe relationships are the fertile ground where connection, trust, and reciprocity are learned. Relationships are the change agent.
Many treatment programs will speak of being family oriented and values based and having clinical sophistication, while they ultimately create change using some version of behavior modification. These behavior modification approaches are relatively easy to implement and often produce strong results in the short term. One of the major problems with behavior modification as the primary treatment methodology for traumatized and attachment disordered children is that behavior modification mimics an abuse environment. Traumatized and emotionally broken teens and preteens have already learned how to survive in controlling, behavior-focused environments. They know how to keep quiet and look as if they are compliant in order to escape punishment. Behavior modification produces a temporary reduction in negative behavior for these teens and preteens but does not create internal change. Students will behave in the desired ways to get a reward or to avoid negative consequences.
Because behavior modification focuses on behavior and not the underlying pathology, it is seen by many as punitive and disconnected from relationships. For these reasons, it has fallen out of favor as the primary treatment approach for teenagers and pre-teenagers in crisis and many treatment programs have begun speaking about their treatment as if it is "relational" when it is, in fact, still behavioral. They use relational buzzwords but cling to behavior modification techniques of reward and punishment, token economies, level systems, and sometimes even time-out rooms. They call their treatment relationship-focused but students are required to finish phases or levels to earn privileges or to advance in the program.