The Success Counseling Model

The Success Counseling Model

Why this model is different in handling discipline problems than others

As a camper (and now counselor) of the Aloha Foundation camps, Success Counseling has always been a part of my camp experience. However, outside of camp, I feel as if this method for handling discipline problems is not talked about enough outside of camp. So what better place to talk about it than the internet?

That lovely man smiling in that picture is none other than Barnes Boffey, director of Camp Lanakila from 1992 to 2016. Along with spending 50 summers (yes, you read that correctly) at the camp, Barnes holds a doctorate in Education from the University of Massachusetts and was the Director of Elementary and Secondary Teacher Preparation at Dartmouth College for 10 years. He is also the designer of the Success Counseling model, which has been used at the Aloha Foundation since 1992, and since its creation, has spread out to other summer camps as well.

What is Success Counseling and what is it based on?

Success Counseling is based on the William Glasser Choice theory, which states that every human being has five basic needs:

1. love and belonging

2. power and worth

3. fun

4. freedom

5. survival

Glasser states that every choice made by a human being is made with getting those needs met, through one way or another. With this theory, Boffey created a model towards disciplining children which allows them to analyze their behavior instead of reprimanding them for it without understanding what they've done. For this, you need to ask the person 5 questions:

1. What do you want?

2. What are you doing now to get what you want?

3. Is it helping?

4. Why or why not?

5. What are your other options?

After the 5th step, you would make a plan with the person to check-in on how they've improved (or haven't) with the situation.

As a person who was a camper and now as a counselor has learned the ways of success counseling, I can definitely recall moments when Success Counseling helped me analyze my actions and my consequences of things I thought had been silly, or when it helped me when I was depressed because I felt like I was being excluded and laughed at. One of the key components of this method is the direct questioning of what that person needs and their analyzation of the effectiveness of what they've been doing to get what they want; I believe that it is important for this model to be used with children when disciplining them, since they are used to getting immediately punished for something they are told is wrong at school, and with this method, they are given a sense of independence when asked to analyze their actions and consequences and giving them a part in finding a better way to get what they need.

When the counselors were practicing using this model of discipline during our training week, I'll be honest, I was terrified. We were just two counselors practicing a fake situation, how would it be when we would actually have to use the model on the campers? Would I be able to help them analyze their situation correctly? It eventually happened by the end of camp, as one of the girls in my unit told me how she was feeling frustrated and stressed out because she thought that her counselor was always shouting at her to clean her area, but she felt that her tentmates' areas were significantly messier than hers but were not yelled at as much as she was. After realizing that what she wanted was some personal space and free time (which she felt that with her constant cleaning of the tent made her give up most of her free time) she and I agreed to go to our Unit Head and see if she could moderate a conversation between the camper and her counselor. Since it was by the end of camp, I never was able to check in with her, but I felt like I actually made a difference in helping the camper with her situation.

Obviously, Success Counseling will not be immediately used in all schools and/or summer camps, and if it is adopted by them, this will most likely be interpreted to fit the school and/or camps' rules and traditions. However, I hope that it will be more recognized, as I believe that the time of punishing without analyzing consequences has come and gone, leaving those who've done wrong to not fully understand their mistakes. As Bram Stoker wrote in his famous novel Dracula, "We learn from failures, not from success!"

Cover Image Credit: Freya Burgess

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

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Don't Be Afraid of Changing Your College Plan

It really isn't THAT bad...


I can't claim to have any deep wisdom on life, but I at least have some good experience with a highly turbulent college career. I started as a game design major in a tech college in Rochester, NY, transferred to a college in Texas, and now I'm an English major at CofC.

My college life has been something of a roller coaster.

But I regret none of it. Maybe it would have been easier to stick to the track I was on initially, but I would never have been fully satisfied with it. Now I've finally found my place and, even though it may have taken a lot of shifting around, it was undoubtedly worthwhile.

I don't mean to say that everyone who is slightly dissatisfied with their major should transfer all over the country and change their major(I had to sacrifice the ability to get a minor because of the path I took, so I wouldn't recommend it to most people). I just believe that if you find yourself not liking the classes that are vital to your major or if you can't find a place at your current college, then changing your major or transferring isn't as horrible as you might imagine.

When I started college I was completely confident in what I wanted to do and what my future would look like. I thought it would be ridiculous for someone to stray from their initial path. That idea led to me deciding to transfer later than was smart.

I think everyone should know that having to change your plans for the future, sometimes in dramatic ways, isn't a bad thing. No matter how scary transferring and changing majors can seem, many people have done it before you and many will after, you aren't alone.

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