Ironic that much of behaviour support language is coached in negative words that sound horrible and clinical. As hopeful as we want to be, this may not change if behaviour support remains driven by psychology as a discipline.
Coming from a holistic framework of Person Centred Psychotherapy, taking a strength based approach tends to reframe language. This makes things more accessible. Less clinical. And more humane.
What is support after all? To support someone is to help them, to enable them, to offer companionship on a journey of change or discovery or just being. Support is listening. Supportive listening opens up doors, paths, and possibilities.
Exploring the possible, we co-design plans – even with people whose profound dis-ability can also be recast into strengths and capacities! Too often people look to what is missing. Seems a natural human tendency. The old glass is mostly empty problem…
But in therapy my take is looking at the fullness of the glass, and going, OMG can you see that? Can you celebrate that? How do you feel when you focus on what great skills you have already? How can we build on that capacity you have now?
Positive behaviour support can move away from managing crisis to engaging in growth, change, and even radical new ways of being in the world. What is my radical might be your boring – but who is to judge my radical but me? Who really knows me, but the people who support me day-in and day-out? Who is able to challenge me and my supporters better than a counselling therapist driven by positive supportive practices?
Please don’t dis my ability. Radically transform my dis-ability into strength-capacity and invig-ability! To invigorate is to build ability and capacity. To give energy to a static body. To move someone that may have felt stuck, or systems or families that were somehow blocked in their energy and patterns and habits of being. Invig-ability is the way to go. No doubt about that!
Joseph Bowers PhD is a Counselling Psychotherapist and registered provider with the National Disability Insurance Scheme.