By Barnes Boffey, Lanakila Director
Success Counseling is a philosophy, a theory of behavior, and a set of skills for helping ourselves and other people grow and make effective choices. This short passage from an article written a few years ago explains a few basics which we can use to begin a longer discussion of success counseling and how it works. I would be happy to answer any questions about success counseling or its implementation in future blog entries. We will also be sharing more theory in the months ahead.
Working as a camp counselor can be exciting, rewarding and enriching. But it’s hard work. Perhaps the most difficult task is dealing with a wide range of human behaviors. In most cases, counselors come to camp with some good natural instincts about working with children. But just as natural athletes need coaching and training to become consistent and disciplined, quality counseling must be developed through training and practice.
Quality camp counseling demands that counselors understand how the counseling process works as well as how its procedures fit into camp’s overall beliefs about the nature of human behavior and personal growth. Over the last 15 years at Lanakila and our two sister camps, Aloha and Aloha Hive, we have developed and refined a counseling model based on a comprehensive method of understanding human behavior.
Our model, which we refer to as success counseling, is built around the ideas of William Glasser’s control theory and reality therapy. Effective counseling practices are the result. One of the ongoing advantages of utilizing the success counseling model over time is that new counselors can grasp the techniques rather quickly. After completing pre-camp, with its emphasis on training in control theory and reality therapy, most counselors understand that success counseling is not only effective, but fairly easy to apply. One does not have to be a psychology major in college to understand the control theory/reality therapy process.
At the foundation of the success counseling process is what is believed by many to be an accurate understanding of how and why human beings behave. Once we understand why people do what they do, we can begin to develop tools to help children and adults choose more responsible behaviors and be more effective people. In Glasser’s control theory model, the why is very consistent. He says that human beings choose every behavior they use for the same reason—it is always their best attempt at the moment to meet one or more of their five basic needs for 1) love and belonging, 2) power and worth, 3) fun, 4) freedom and 5) survival.
People are always evaluating the behaviors they are choosing according to their effectiveness in helping them meet these needs. If asked to use a certain behavior (like following a rule, or cooperating on a camping trip, or stopping the use of obscenities), people will evaluate how well they believe this new behavior will help them meet their needs. If they cannot see a connection between the behavior they are being asked or encouraged to use and its probable success in meeting their needs, they will not do it unless they are coerced. Since we believe children will grow and develop more fully and responsibly in an environment that uses minimal coercion, we try to have campers make the connection between the actions they have been asked to perform and their ability to meet their needs for love, power, fun and freedom.