Most programs have treatment teams that operate off a gut feel. When reviewing a student, the question is asked, “Is Billy getting better?” One staff may reply, “Yes! He feels a lot happier this week.” Another may respond, “Absolutely not, he swore at me this week. He’s getting worse.” Everyone has his/her own opinion based on personal anecdotes with the student. Each staff is relying on his/her personal interactions, feelings, and hunches to gauge the student’s clinical progress. This is like judging the size and scope of an entire room by looking through the keyhole.
At Telos we begin with the end in mind. By selecting target behaviors we would like the student to improve in, we have a point of reference to measure progress. For example, Mike may present for treatment with oppositionality, anxiety, and a tendency to isolate from people. After reviewing the various behavioral dichotomies at our disposal, we may decide to track “oppositional vs compliant,” “anxious vs calm,” and “engaged vs isolated.” The target behavior would be clearly defined, and staff would begin measuring the frequency and severity of each behavior. Over time, these measurements are converted into numbers and displayed on a graph. The treatment team then uses these graphs to measure the effectiveness of various interventions and the overall course of treatment.
By focusing on real behaviors, we avoid falling into the trap of seeing the student through one single lens. Target behaviors bring a greater level of objectivity to our evidence-based treatment.