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Making & Strengthening Connections: Strength Building Through Relationships

By: Ken McGill, EdS, LMFT

All humans are multi-dimensional, just like the world in which we live. We are not a single story; our lives are full of many parts which create an intricate tapestry of stories. When we are not focused on whole-person-centered care there is so much we miss, leading to misunderstanding, mislabeling, and even mistreatment. Systems must collaborate with other systems to provide comprehensive, successful care, rather than just meeting basic deliverables.

Many of us have heard the expression, ‘If you give a person a fish, they will eat for a day. But if you teach them how to fish, they will eat for a lifetime.’ This is a great start for building strengths, but what happens when that person is not catching enough fish to feed themselves, their families, or others? Building resiliency is just as important as building other strengths. Life is full of challenges, and it is how we manage these life challenges that can impact overall health and wellbeing. There has been much written about ‘resilience’ and how we can build resiliency in children, youth, emerging adults, and adults.

Social Connections Provide Individuals & Families Protections

Solutions must be built into the work of every system to ensure sustainability, which supports transformational care. Social connections are Sustainable Supports Solutions of Success. Very rarely are interventions successful using a ‘One and Done’ approach. Instead, the work of the treatment team must be embedded within all levels of local systems of care to create a systemic shift in culture. This can prevent the ‘single story’ and instead support the ‘whole-person’ with care.

“Transformational Care-Planning” is aligned with Transformational Collaborative Outcomes Management (TCOM). Transformational Care-Planning can be defined as the collaborative process of engaging those being served, and developing goals of life through conversations and relationship building. These goals assist individuals to get back on track to effectively manage life challenges. Transformational Care-Planning serves to coordinate the care an individual is receiving. This ‘team’ approach serves to support the individual (person-centered care) and the individual within each life domain (whole person).

Social connections are positive relationships that provide emotional, informational, instrumental as well as spiritual support. The building of social connections has endless possibilities connected with transformational care planning. Collaborative solutions can develop when there are increased connections and relationships with others connected to an individual’s community. Strengthening connections often initiate a ‘rippling effect’, leading to increases in bonding relationships, recreational activities, and natural supports at all levels: individual, family, and community.

Increased Connections Resulting In Functional Strengths

The strengths often found in the TCOM Tools (e.g. Child Adolescent Needs & Strengths[CANS], Adult Needs and Strengths Assessments [ANSA], etc.) include community involvement, resiliency, and optimism. These functional strengths can be the triad for successful outcomes. Those who are connected to their communities have a sense of belonging, which can also increase resilience and provide hope for a positive future.

It was Dr. Maya Angelou, the author of the poem ‘Alone’, written in 1975, who captured the loneliness and togetherness befitting of our world today. The video link provides a sight of the ‘intimate portrait of a world during the lockdown phase of the pandemic. Guy Johnson, Maya’s son, provides the audio in the video, reflecting on the vulnerability and need for community in the world.

As our world moves forward from the pandemic we must all fully acknowledge, as Dr. Angelou’s poem states, Nobody, but nobody, can make it out here alone.’ We have been through the alone experiences, and we all need the togetherness of our family, community, and world. Let us all take our social emotional learning to build connections in our own lives and in the lives of those we serve.

TCOM-365 Sparks Social Justice Movement

Last year it was such an incredible experience to participate in a Roundtable Discussion titled, ’Demystifying the Prison Pipeline: Partnership in Prevention and Equity’  highlighting innovative solutions around Youth A.R.E. (Assets, Resources and Energy). The over-arching takeaway message was quite clear- ‘Connection is Protection’. We all must actively reach out and bring to the table those whose voices are not being heard and respected.

Since then, Youth-TimeBanking (YTB) has expanded in parts of the United States, Uganda, Jamaica, and is now starting in Yaoundé, Cameroon and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Youth in different countries have collaborated on projects involving organizations in their home countries including New Zealand, England, and China. Jerome Scriptunas leads the charge in moving Youth TimeBanking from a specific area within New Jersey towards collaborations around the world; Youth-TimeBanking Global (YTB-Global).

Many years ago, Dr. John Lyons shared a TedTalk titled “How to Start a Movement” presented by Derek Sivers. The TCOM Collaborative and the work started by Dr. Lyons is absolute proof that it takes a single person to have a ‘vision’ to start a movement. However, it is just as important to bring in others who have the courage to follow and show others how to follow. So, with strong encouragement, ‘Stand-up and Join-in to TCOM-365, You have the Courage & Talent to Change Our World for Everyone!’

I strongly encourage those who want to participate in the TCOM Collaborative Movement to attend the 18th Annual TCOM Conference in September 2022 to meet up either in person in New Orleans or virtually at our Cloud Gathering. The 2022 TCOM Conference will center around the theme, “Managing Change and All That Jazz”. The annual TCOM Conference serves as a catalyst for bringing together a global audience who embed TCOM in the work they do, the communities they live and the world we all live in.


2 Comments on “Making & Strengthening Connections: Strength Building Through Relationships

  1. Great post Ken, so detailed and I’ll have to check out the Con!

    • Thank you, Ron. This year’s conference will be offered both in-person and virtually. Look forward to seeing you at the 2022 TCOM Conference-Ken

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