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Ability Awakens Podcast S1 E4 Integral Behaviour Support Part 2

Welcome to a new episode in season one. In this episode we will explore Part 2 of Integral Behaviour Support. We hope you enjoy this new audio adventure.

By the way, we are soon launching Ability Academy Australia’s first program in a Diploma of Integral Behaviour Support.

Below see the full transcript of this episode.

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Ability Awakens Podcast S1 E4 Integral Behaviour Support Part 2

Welcome to Ability Awakens, a podcast about provocative insights in the arts of therapy, behaviour and spirituality as meaning making.

Gooday, Dr Joseph Randolph hours here and I’m asked by several people to talk about what is behaviour support and particularly, I’d like to emphasise integral behaviour support.

We would just like to interject here that this is part two of a two-part series, on introduction to integral behaviour support. As the introduction to part-one was so important and covers very relevant information, we provide this clip again for your listening. In learning we call this spiral learning and capacity building where we take in information in a stepwise process, which is very helpful to the process of taking on new values and actions.

This talk goes out to parents and support workers and people that are dealing with behavioural concerns and who need behaviour support. The insights in this talk could be helpful to a whole range of people. And we’re not just talking about disabilities here, we’re talking about everyone really. Because behaviour is a human phenomenon, and that means that it is relevant to all of us in daily life.

And no one in this universe is truly an expert. We are all, in one sense, the only expert on our own personal experiences, and parents are the experts in terms of knowing, understanding, living with what their child has been going through for years. In a similar way, support workers who are, you know, in the trenches day-to-day with people and supporting them, they have their own level of expertise and insights as well to offer.

So, everybody has their perspectives and the individual that struggling with behavioural issues is also an expert in their own experiences and that needs to also be respected. This is central to the notion of integral behaviour support that draws in a range of perspectives into the method. The first part of integral behaviour support, and perhaps the most important part, is called person centred support.

And here begins part two of the talk on integral behaviour support.

Having said all of that, I’d just like to highlight some of the core values and presuppositions. A presupposition is a belief that sort of sits behind our functional beliefs and are uconscious beliefs and attitudes. A presupposition sits behind those conscious beliefs and attitudes. And we’re not necessarily consciously aware of our presuppositions, but they are the core values that in a way orient our behaviour, that drive our attitudes and beliefs. And in the realms of supporting other people it’s really, really, really helpful and important to start to deconstruct and understand, pick apart, and reconstruct and build a really functional core value system of presuppositions that are actually useful.

For example, one presupposition that people often come with arises in everyday family life, and that is, for example, that a person is always seeking attention and that attention seeking is a negative thing. This is a core value that a lot of disability support workers bring to their work on a daily basis and it’s really dysfunctional. In other words, it doesn’t help to have that core value or presupposition. And you know, that’s a hard thing to come to terms with.

A worker coming into the workplace will bring the values and beliefs that they have in the home, but they have to learn to leave those beliefs and values at home, and when they step through the door of their workplace, working with another individual in a professional basis, they have to leave behind those beliefs and values that they orient themselves to in their daily life. They need to take on a more functional and more professional attitude and belief structure. This is a thing that some people find really hard to learn and hard to come to terms with. It’s part of professional training, but it doesn’t get enough airtime. So, we’re always finding that we can always do better with taking on more functional professional attitudes and beliefs.

Some of the beliefs that I’ve taken on over the years have really helped me a lot in my work. And some of these might seem a bit left field or even freaky to some people because they’re very challenging. Really at this level core values and presuppositions have very global implications and they need to be well interpreted and, also, understood in a holistic point of view a holistic perspective, because how we apply them will depend on the context and the scenario that were in and this will always change. There will always be a dynamic process going on in the sense that we can’t be black and white about these approaches to life.

We need to be flexible and functional to meet the moment with whatever we need to do in that moment that will actually work and be helpful.

So, one of the core presuppositions that I have is that all behaviours are relational. This is actually really radical and freaky for a lot of people to think that all behaviours are relational. Because what do people assume? The first thing people assume is that the person having the behaviours, that it’s the person demonstrating the negative behaviour, in this case it’s the person that is having the behaviour. And that’s it. There’s no contextualization of that. There’s no relational sense of that. There’s no environmental sense of that. There’s not even an acknowledgement of what might be happening inside the person.

For example, they may have had a sleepless night, or they may be dealing with a mental health concern. Or they may be, they may be in trauma recovery from a major incident. And you know, people will not see those things that are going on, in the contextual, things that actually give a perspective that makes sense in understanding the behaviour itself.

But also, people will not acknowledge they are part of that behaviour cycle, they are part of that behavioural manifestation, because they are in a relationship with that person who is demonstrating those behaviours. So, I’m working with somebody and they’re demonstrating the behaviour of getting angry. Do I step back and look at how I might be contributing to that, what my role might be in that process? And not just in the person being triggered towards anger, but also how the person defuses or what they do to, to address that, or to solve that problem, or to come down from that anger and frustration? Am I part of that? What’s my role in that? How am I relationally involved in the behavioural cycle? It’s a really interesting, important question. Basically, I’m saying that all behaviours are at some level relational and when we come to terms with that, it really helps us orient ourselves to positive behaviour support.

The next presupposition is that all behaviours arise from unconscious positive intentions. We say that more simply in the therapeutic literature and we say that all behaviour has a positive intention. Every behaviour has a positive intention. That is a really radical statement. And the first thing that people usually say to me in training events when we talking about this is that they’ll highlight the person that assaults another person or the person who murders somebody, what’s positive about that they’ll say. And we have to talk that through for quite a while usually and come to an understanding that at this level of presuppositions, it’s really useful and effective for us to have this attitude that every behaviour has a positive intention.

Why is that? Even when I work with that individual as a therapist or as a support person, if I have the basic attitude that every behaviour has a positive intention, then I won’t get hooked into the negative patterns as easily. I will have a sense of detachment and I will have a sense of perspective on the individual, their life and their experience, their developmental process, the issues that they were probably dealing with through their lifetime, how they contributed to their behaviour… was something that that individual got from doing that negative behaviour. We might not think of that as a positive thing. But from this therapeutic perspective point of view, it’s a positive aspect and we understand that from that strictly philosophical point of view, that gives us an insight into what the motivation of the person was. What the layers of that motivation were at this basic level in everyday life we say every behaviour has or arises from an unconscious positive intention is a really useful belief to have. It really helps us to open up our minds and be curious. To maintain an ongoing curiosity and an ongoing sense of unconditional positive regard towards every person that we work with. This is a very professional attitude and it’s not that easy for a lot of people to come to terms with. But it’s really important. It’s really important.

The next presupposition I’ll discuss is that all behaviour is at some level functional. And this is another very challenging idea because so many of our human behaviours are really dysfunctional, you know, like smoking for example. It’s a great example. Smoking is a dysfunctional behaviour that leads to illness, chronic illness and can be debilitating over time. But smoking, you know, understood from these more holistic presuppositions. Smoking can be understood as a positive functional behaviour because for example, I’ll give you, I’ll tell you a little story about this.

I worked with an individual who was a mother of three, an a very dedicated mother. She was always stressed out and she came out of a very difficult relationship that was abusive. She would always go out to the back step. And she would have a, have a cigarette, and she usually had a cup of coffee or tea with her. And she would have her cigarette and then she would go back and face the day. This was her break, this was her, her moment out, and it gave her some perspective. She had this behaviour for many years and she never really thought about it, because it was just what she did. Part of her life.

In therapy we unpacked that, and we, we looked at that, and she came to a deeper conscious awareness of all the positive layers of that moment of going to have a cigarette. That the cigarette in a sense wasn’t really the focus of that behaviour. But there were so many other positives in there. The cigarette was just part of that. In fact, the cigarette was the excuse, or maybe not the excuse, but it was the reason. It was the functional reason that I could get some time on my own on the back step and have a moment to myself. But this was her lifeline. This was so much her lifeline that she couldn’t even imagine replacing it with anything else. And so, we had to work through that quite a bit and eventually she found other ways to find that positive strength-based outcome in her life, and she was able to trade one behaviour for another, and eventually she quit smoking because she was able to do that in such a degree that she was able to meet her needs in other ways.

That’s a good example where, where that’s kind of true. If you think about it at that level, that all behaviours arise from an unconscious positive intention. She was doing the best she could with what she knew at the time, and you know the behaviour itself. We could judge is not functional. And as negative. But we’re not into judging. We’re into affirming that she did the best she could at the time, and it just happened to be having a cigarette. Well, you know, whatever. A lot of us do a lot of weird things to get through the day. It’s not to judge those things. It’s more about looking at what works, and what might work a little better than what we’re doing now. And we take that positive approach, it really opens up new possibilities. So, all behaviour is, it’s true, is functional at that level when we think of it that way, even when it’s dysfunctional. It’s kind of a paradox, but it’s really true.

The next presupposition we’ll discuss is that no one person is the expert. And I love this presupposition because every individual, regardless of where they’re coming from and what level of education or perspective or background or experience or age that they have, they have a primary value. Every person is of primary value. No one person is the expert and I think this is really very important, especially when it comes to clinical behaviour review and assessment.

It can be assumed the behaviour specialist is the expert, but that’s just a small part of the picture really. Every person being consulted is the expert from their own perspectives, and that needs to be respected, that needs to be highlighted and it needs to be affirmed.

The person is the expert in their own experience. This is a core value of person-centred work that Carl Rogers highlighted so many years ago and in day-to-day support it really needs to be remembered more and more. The person is the expert in their own experience. We need to highlight that and celebrate that.

We learn, and we are open to learn to grow from every person is another core value or presupposition. We learn and we are open to learn and to grow from every person that we encounter every day. If we have that attitude we’ll be so very curious about people what a great presupposition to have in life. It keeps us awake, keeps us interested. It keeps us in a mode of active awakening. It’s almost a form of mindfulness and even a form of personal spirituality. It’s like these core values orient us towards our best possible life.

And why wouldn’t we want to create the conditions within ourselves that will promote growth and personal awareness? Why wouldn’t we want to create the conditions within ourselves that allow us to engage in a creative way with the people and the problems that we encounter every day? Why wouldn’t we want to nurture and help to grow an environment within our own self, our psyche, our mind, our being, our bodies that will be open to, and be receptive to the relationships we engage on a day-to-day basis? This enables us to be a better human being. To contribute more to our lives and the lives of all of those people that we encounter from day to day. I think this is really central to a positive approach to behaviour support. An approach that is integral and holistic.

I’m your host, Dr Joseph Randolph Bowers. We are Ability Awakens Podcast, a provocative, insightful show about the arts of therapy, behaviour and spirituality as meaning making. Thank you for welcoming us in it for listening and being with us today.

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