Phases of Change, 1 of 6
By Maia Christopherson
This is part 1 of 6 in a series about our Phases of Change.
Many programs use levels systems to help students keep track of their progress. Sometimes, these levels are based on numbers. Other times, the levels are based on virtues which the program wants young people to adopt or a checklist of tasks for students to perform. At Discovery Ranch for Girls (DRG), however, we treat our level system differently. Our levels system mirrors the levels of development and maturity that people progress through in real life. Our system is meaningful because not only does it describe the process of change our students experience here at the ranch, it describes the process of change we all experience as we mature and grow. Its implications extend far outside the bounds of our program.
These Phases of Change asks the question: when you do the right thing, why do you do it? Each level in our Phases of Change represents a different kind of motivation. These motivations are not put in a random order. They are in the order of how people progress as they mature and change. They are Caution, Duty, Justice, Trust, and Love.
A System with Meaning
The phase system at DRG is based on actual research about human behavior and development. It describes the ways people change throughout their lives as they mature from dependent children to independent adults to interdependent adults. Interdependence is vital because interdependent people participate in their community. Interdependent people help others and receive help in return. They are active, contributing members of a community.
In the DRG system, the first two phases are Caution and Duty. They are the beginning phases where our girls still need external structures for motivation. In the third phase, the Justice phase, our girls begin to transition from external motivation to internal motivation. This internal motivation grows as our girls progress into the Trust and Love phases. Throughout our Phases of Change, our girls move from being dependent, independent, to interdependent.
Imagine Yourself at a New School
These phases of change are ones we repeat throughout our whole lives. We begin as dependent children and grow into independent adults. Hopefully, we later develop into interdependent members of our community.
For example, imagine that you were a young woman coming to a new school for the first time. In the beginning, you would be cautious. You would have to depend on other people to learn the rules. Over time, you would get a sense of the rules. You learn to fulfill your obligations and duties. Before you came to school, you would have already had a sense of right and wrong. However, being a part of a community and forming lasting relationships will inspire you to want to choose your actions based on what is right or wrong.
However, there is a level of maturity beyond independence. That is interdependence. In interdependence, people do not need to rely on others, and they are not isolated. They are a functioning part of their community. The final two levels, Trust and Love, are the foundation of a life of interdependence.
Continuing the example, once you feel secure in your new school, then you would trust that you understand the way things work. If you were very lucky, you might even come to love your new school. Rather than wanting to do good things out of a sense of duty or because it is the right thing to do, you would want to do good things because you love your school and the people in it.
Real World Application
Our Phases of Change is something that sticks with the girls as they move out of our program and into the real world. Their experience at DRG will mirror other experiences that they have throughout their lives. By participating in our program, students gain a visceral sense of what the phases of change feel like. They will learn that it feels better for them to act out of love than caution.
In the following five blog posts, we will discuss each of our five phases individually.