Often times as a Behavior Specialist Consultant and in my personal life, I have been accused of making excuses for people’s behavior. In my mind there is a huge difference between making excuses and finding root causes. Making excuses entails coming up with things that cause this person to do what they did and then letting them off the hook for whatever it might have been. Finding root causes entails looking underneath the surface behavior to find what is driving the behavior. This is done in order to change the underlying causal factors and therefore the behavior itself. This does not let the person off the hook but makes them do work to change what was done so it will not happen again. It not only changed the surface behavior, what you can see with the eye, but also what is driving the behavior. An example might be the following: When dealing with a child who has been molested you will see surface behaviors like hyper sexuality or the opposite dressing very plainly, fading into the woodwork to not be noticed or to not be attractive. You will see criminal behavior, drug and / or alcohol use and eventually abuse. You will see anger and a lot of it. There will be poor school performance, especially if it is a teacher that is doing the molesting. You will see cutting themselves, emotional dis-regulation, reactions to things that are not that bad will have an overreaction. They will not be able to hold a job when they get older due to the anger. They will have excuses for their responses to things that do not make sense to a normal person but it does to them and they will be angry with you if you dispute it. Fixing only the surface behaviors will not change the behavior. They may stop doing whatever you have punished them for, but the driving force behind the behavior has not changed and therefore it will continue to happen. If you punish a child for dressing provocatively,they may not dress that way again in your presence, but they will find another way to express that behavior. They may begin to sneak out of the house, dress provocatively when they are out of your sight, etc. Because you have not found the underlying causal factor, the behavior continues. It takes a lot of work to change causal factors. Sometimes years and determination to make it different by the person exhibiting the behavior. Making them feel bad about what they are doing will only make it worse. It will make them defensive and pull away from you. That does not mean you accept their behavior, it means you let them know you will love them without strings. Most of us have no idea how to do that. Loving without conditions attached means that you are willing to love this person no matter what they do, no criticism, just acceptance of who they are and where they are at this point in their life. That does not mean you accept their behavior. You are also willing to tell them, without judgment, how it hurts you to see them do whatever it was they did and cause themselves such pain. If you are only interested in what other people see then you are making excuses. If you are trying to understand what is making it happen then you are looking for root causes and trying for a permanent change. These video’s will help you to relax while you are giving away what you cannot control and is no longer working for you. Link to the video’s. Enjoy!
I became a therapist in an attempt to understand my own childhood and what happened there and how it made me who I am, exhibiting the behaviors that were not always positive, very often self-destructive. I used Art Therapy to help me understand things in my past that were stopping me from making better decisions in my present day. I used Behavioral Science to help me understand underlying causal factors, roots to the present day behaviors that I was seeing in myself. Both help me to change those behaviors/thoughts that were causing me to make self-destructive decisions that were causing pain in life. I have been a therapist since 1985 and have an undergraduate degree Art and behavioral science (double major) from the University of Maine. My graduate work was done at Marywood university and I have a degree in Art Therapy. I have certificates in Forensic Interviewing and Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavior therapy. I have 22 out of 30 credits toward a degree in Trauma Therapy from Drexel University. I started out as a Community Support Worker, Program Manager/Clinical Supervisor, Family therapist and Outpatient therapist. View all posts by dtoomey2015