ColumbiaCare Service's treatment philosophy is guided by the research and insights of Abraham Maslow and Victor Frankl. Maslow (Motivation and Personality, 1954) described the hierarchy of needs that humans have, building from simply staying alive, to feeling safe, to being social, to contributing to society, to personal growth and fulfillment (self-actualization). Frankl (Man’s Search for Meaning, 1984) convincingly demonstrated that persons survive, and ultimately thrive,
only when they have meaning in their lives.
ColumbiaCare Services looks at the person first, then how the mental illness affects the person. We seek to provide our residents a pathway to achieving the same things all humans need to not only feel safe and well taken care of, but to contribute and thrive.
Among the ‘side effects’ of serious and persistent mental illnesses are poverty, hunger, fear, and sometimes existence living on the street. When ColumbiaCare Services provides healthy and plentiful food, clean living space, and a home that is safe from assault and intimidation, we go a long way toward the recovery of our residents. As we create a low-stimulation environment, we allow our residents time to loosen themselves from alarming distractions, become aware of the effects of their mental illness, and to focus on their recovery. In time, the resident recognizes the importance of fully participating in their treatment. They are cordial and cooperative housemates, learning skills that make them feel part of the home. As the resident feels comfortable in their new home, and achieves sufficient focus and goal-directed behavior, we include the resident in increasing doses of social contact. We take special efforts to include family to the degree that we can, holding a strong bias that involved family is one of the best indicators of successful treatment and community integration. We encourage social contact within the home (to the degree that other residents feel comfortable) through house meetings, special outings, and informal relationship-building. Social contacts outside the home are also encouraged as they support the recovery of the resident.
As the resident’s basic needs and safety are assured, and the resident gets practice socializing both within and outside the home, the desire and the skills to contribute to society begin to emerge. This may take the form of taking an interest in the outside appearance of the home or the neighborhood; volunteering in church or community; completing GED or taking college coursework; or finding paid employment... whatever the resident feels is appropriate for their age, physical capabilities, and sense of meaning. When this happens, we see residents who are hopeful of recovery and living more fulfilled lives.
Certain treatment practices support this Treatment Philosophy. ColumbiaCare Services believes that one cannot separate residential services (those necessary to keep the person safe and comfortable in the home) from rehabilitative treatment services (those that help the person move into more independent living) when considering the long-term recovery of the resident. “Teachable moments” for skills training are at least as likely to occur at the dinner table or on an impromptu walk in the neighborhood as they are during conventional business hours. We continually engage in upskilling staff thru formal training such as ASIST and evidence-based practices as well as with resident-specific intervention techniques from local and regional expert consultants. Each program has its own quarterly quality review, and each resident has their progress monitored at intake and every three months thereafter through the use of standardized instruments. People get better.
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