Phase IV: Insight and Coping Skills

Building Insight and Practicing Coping Skills

At Summerland Camps building insight and practicing coping skills is not as easily placed in a timeline as the other components.  Generally, this piece is done continually through the program.

The progression of insight building and practicing coping skills is most pronounced well into the camper’s stay after sufficient rapport has been built with counselors at the program, and after the camper had had some corrective experiences.  Once we have the trust of the camper, and once they have fully integrated into their peer group, they are ready to interact openly.  As a result, we will have opportunities to call a “time out” and practice coping skills in the moment.

Insight and Coping Skill Example

A good way to understand this process is with an example.  Take for instance we have a camper named, “Johnny.”  Let’s say Johnny has an issue with laying blame.  It’s always someone else’s fault and never his own.

During an evening activity, it is not going well.  The counselor sees Johnny and he looks physically distressed.  He opens his mouth and starts to say something critical about a teammate.  The counselor calls, ”time out!”

This is an opportunity to do some counseling in the moment.  The counselor pulls Johnny aside and Johnny discusses his frustrations.  The counselor asks Johnny what will happen if he lays blame on this teammate and if there is a better way to handle his frustration.  After some conversations with the counselor, Johnny realizes that being critical will not bring the consequences he wants and that perhaps he shares part of the blame.   So Johnny decides to rejoin the group and he offers come construction input instead.  The team works through the difficulties and goes on to succeed in the challenge.

Johnny Later that day, the counselor gives Johnny some positive verbal reinforcement for making the right decision.  The counselor reinforces with Johnny what would have happened if he went with the negative decision, and also how well things went with making the right decision.

In the Moment

This example is why in-the-moment behavior change is so much more powerful than outpatient behavior change.  In outpatient behavior change the opportunity to try a new coping skill has already passed when discussing an issue.  At Summerland Camps, we intervene at the moment to help campers think through their behaviors and to make the right decisions at the right time.

Because of the time invested in digital media, most of our campers have fallen behind socially.  They need outside intervention to help them walk through their social interactions and decision-making.  This is what building insight and practicing coping skills is all about.

Making Healthy Reactions Automatic

Campers who stay for at least 30 days will have many more opportunities to build insight than campers who stay for just a 2-week session.  To put new coping skills into practice, campers need to rehearse these skills several times.

The ultimate goal is to make the camper’s knee-jerk response to stress, anger, boredom, or anxiety something positive and healthy.  Like any behavior, it takes time and repetition to make new behaviors automatic.

Camp Phases (click to read about each phase):