Ironwood Maine Web Update

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”


The only constant when navigating the world of behavioral and mental health is change and Ironwood is no different.  Ironwood is always looking for better, new, and scientifically backed ways to assist residents in developing the tools, skills, and coping strategies to grow and thrive within their evolving world.  As such Ironwood is working on teaching the staff different approaches to utilize to build healthy professional relationships, role model healthy boundaries, demonstrate respect and promote dignity with the residents at Ironwood.  As with every change there will be bumps in the road, but it’s important to remember this is a journey and not a quick trip to the store.

Most recently we have begun the roll out of utilizing CPS, Collaborative and Proactive Solutions.  Staff are advancing in the training in this technique in an effort to evolve the interactions and teaching that is being conducted with the residents.  It is an exciting way to change how we view, interact, and teach, and should allow the residents to thrive in a new level of positivity where they are able to learn to recognize their inherent self worth.

So what is this CPS?  How is it a way to change the lens that we view the residents in our care?  The following from Naomi Fisher sums it up well and is shared here to assist in explaining the process in a concise manner as to fully go into the process would be cumbersome in a weekly update.

“Kids Do Well If They Can 

I’ve been reflecting on this fundamental pillar of Dr Ross Greene’s (@livesinthebalance) approach to living and working with kids, and the more I think about it, the more significant it seems. What it’s really about, for me, is adult attitude. Most of the time, if kids aren’t doing what adults would like, our assumption is it’s because they don’t want to. Or they aren’t motivated. Or they are lazy. We put it down to a lack of will. We get angry with them. We assume that if only they wanted to, they would be able to do what we ask them. So we try to make them.

What Ross Greene is saying is that we can flip that assumption around, and instead assume that kids aren’t doing things because they aren’t able to right now. Maybe they aren’t clearing up (for example) because they don’t have the organizational skills required, or they aren’t practicing the piano (for example) because they lack the capacity to balance short term desires with long term goals. For them, the short term is far more important and the future is a long time away.

The skills of self management don’t really develop until adolescence (and neurological adolescence lasts until age 25) which means that a lot of us are frustrated by our kids not doing things which they are likely not to be capable of yet. Remembering their PE kit, or controlling their temper. Managing their impulses to shout rather than speak or picking up wet towels from the floor. Thinking before they speak. Brain development is an ongoing process, and it doesn’t accelerate it if you’re made to feel bad about what you’re not able to do yet. Kids can do things one day, when the circumstances are right, and not another – that’s the messy and non-linear way that development works.

But the most important thing that Ross Greene says is that we don’t have to waste time thinking about whether they can help it or not in any particular situation. If we just make our baseline assumption that kids do well if they can, then the research shows that this works out better. This can change everything. It changes the questions we ask and the way that parents feel. It stops many battles in their tracks.

For if someone lacks the skills to do something, we can’t solve that through consequences or rewards. It isn’t a choice on their part, even if it looks like it is. We can’t make them grow up faster through punishing them for their incompetence or telling them off. It makes no sense to get annoyed with them if they can’t help it. Instead we have to accept where they are right now (even if we wish they were somewhere else) and work out how to make things work with that.

They will develop skills in time and we can help them with that – but neurological development is a long process, and no one’s brain ever developed faster through being told off for things they couldn’t help.” – Naomi Fisher Clinical Psychologist, EMDR-Europe Trainer and Writer

            We change the lens we view the residents in our care and teach to the current deficits with the understanding that they do well if they can, rather than if they want.

Michael Bouford, Program Manager

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