Thoughts on Titus 2 Ministry’s Theory of Change
Principle observed: “All behavior is purposeful. Everyone does what they do because they perceive that it works.” Until it no longer provides the “payoff” they are seeking, they will not begin to contemplate change. Even infrequent, intermittent, periodic reinforcement can keep us doing it over and over, though it may be less effective than we are willing to admit. Statistically, I have heard that in golf only 1 in 32 hits is the “sweet one”, but it is enough to keep the average golfer coming back! What most recovery programs are attempting to do is “change” the ABCDs of their clients, once the client has made the decision that what she has been doing is no longer working. A=Attitude, B-Behavior, C=Character, D=Decision-making.
The processes of THNKING and FEELING are not so easily delineated and separated from one another so that one’s THINKING can become the motivating force instead of one’s FEELINGS. Students are encouraged and given the skills and time to self-reflect for development of insight and self-awareness. They are shown an alternative worldview with transformative beliefs and values. Once one begins to experience success in her ability to demonstrate competencies and make good decisions, change on a much bigger scale becomes a real possibility for her. She begins to believe that she can do something differently than in the past.
The most consistent determinant of how well and how solidly a student embraces the changes offered is this: her relationship to the counselor, the ability of the counselor to establish trust. But the counselor must also be able to help the student transfer that ability to trust to God, through a relationship with Christ, not creating the trust in the counselor herself. The counseling model is less important than the relationship. Fostering the attachment to God in real, ordinary, everyday ways is the task before us.
Some view homelessness, and the addictive behavior that is often present among the homeless, as a “resource deficit” and believe that the answer lies in providing access to resources. There is some degree of truth to that. Others see the dynamic as a “character deficit” and there may be some truth to that among some in that subculture. But in reality, we observe that homelessness and addiction is more often a matter of “relational deficit” resulting from personal brokenness. Sometimes it is the result of behavior acted out upon them, as victims, many times in childhood. Other times it is the consequence of their own rebellion, sinfulness, ignorance, or selfishness. Each situation is different and each requires prayerful consideration, personal evaluation, and intuitive and godly direction for those attempting to provide a way out of the rut……or grave……that it becomes.
“The brain organizes data presented to it through experiences. We become ourselves through our experiences and how we’ve chosen to respond to them. Our goal in recovery is to provide different experiences. Our way of thinking CAN change, if given consistent messages over a period of time that challenge and redirect our way of responding to experiences of the past.” (Rev. Mike Johnson)
Even after time in recovery programs, many will self- select back to experiences that are comfortable and fit their paradigm that was established in the past. “Replacement experience” is a theory of change (also called recapitulative experience) that seeks to repattern life for those wounded by formative experiences of life. What intuitively they knew they were supposed to get, experientially they didn’t get. We attempt to give them experiences that replace those and meet a level of intuitive “rightness” of life. The bottom line goal is redeemed relationships with God, self, and others. When that occurs we see healthy self-talk, appropriate self-identity, improved self control and decision making, and the ability to engaged in meaningful, spiritually and emotionally intimate friendships.
None of us ever outgrows the need for structure and accountability. Establishing a “work-ordered life”, in which one is adapted to the daily schedule consistent with productive, effective living is a first order of business. Regular times for awaking and going to bed, eating, studying, worship, and recreation are set. Patterns of thinking begin to adapt to the order being established in one’s physical activities. These lifestyle and psychoeducation components set the stage and create the space for the deeper, more challenging work of change that will occur at an emotional, spiritual, and relational level.