Reconceptualizing the Path to Positive Outcomes for Vulnerable Children in Schools: An Application of Intrapsychic Humanism

A Presentation by Stephen Budde, Ph.D., LCSW Co-Sponsored by Smart Love Family Services Friday, February 26, 2010, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Light Supper Served at 5 p.m. There has been a strong push in recent years to improve educational outcomes for children in response to understandable concerns about the failures of our schools to educate and keep children safe. Policy initiatives like No Child Left Behind and the emphasis of many funders and academics on using “evidence based practices” have resulted in increased monitoring of child outcomes and interventions aimed at improving these outcomes. While there have been some important benefits of these efforts, including increased attention to inequalities by race and class, there has been an overidealization of outcome driven policies and practices (e.g., high-stakes testing, zero tolerance discipline policies, behavioral reinforcement for teachers and children for improved outcomes) and a lack of attention to the limitations and iatrogenic effects of these prominent interventions on children, especially the most vulnerable and traumatized children. At the same time, professionals striving to promote alternative humanistic processes for education and psychotherapy are searching for better ways to articulate how these processes can and do contribute to improving outcomes for children. Dr. Budde will discuss selected research findings that highlight some of the problems and limitations of outcome driven interventions, and the essential importance of constructive and pleasurable relationship based processes in promoting better educational and psychotherapy outcomes. In particular, Dr. Budde will describe how the theory of Intrapsychic Humanism (IH) provides a unique and robust understanding of the relationship of helping processes to outcomes that can serve as an alternative to pressurized outcomes driven interventions or being bogged down in intervention processes that provide no clear or viable route to improving child outcomes. Through its developmental theory and its application to parenting (Smart Love) and psychotherapy (Inner Humanism), IH provides a unique and useful set of concepts for understanding the process of change, internalized barriers to change, and how our relationships with vulnerable children can facilitate learning, therapeutic change, and better long term outcomes. These concepts include:

  • the child‚Äôs strong and innate (intrapsychic) motive to turn to pleasurable relationships with teachers and therapists for help and support
  • the source and power of motives for unhappiness - aversive reactions to pleasure and sensitivity to loss
  • loving regulation and the caring use of authority as an alternative to discipline
  • how caregiving relationships can be used to support the child‚Äôs constructive motives
    • Practice scenarios are used to illustrate how educators and psychotherapists can apply these IH concepts to more effectively understand and address everyday challenges they face in working with vulnerable children in school settings.