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Using Self-Determination Theory in Residential Settings

NCJ Number
Residential Treatment for Children & Youth Volume: 25 Issue: 4 Dated: 2008 Pages: 307-318
Christian Conte Ph.D.; Chad Snyder Ph.D.; Richard McGuffin
Date Published
12 pages
This article proposes developing the internal coping methods of adolescents in residential care through self-determination theory as a more effective means for successfully navigating the traumatic crisis of institutionalization.
Self-determination theory is an excellent means for facilitating the self-motivation and autonomy residential clients need to cope with crisis situations. Self-determination is rooted in the view that people are proactive beings whose natural or intrinsic functioning can be facilitated or hindered by the social context. Self-determined people focus on internal values and strive to obtain knowledge or further understanding of a concept. Thus, self-determination theory is an excellent context from which to address crises in residential settings. Residential treatment centers serve children and adolescents who are dealing with a number of impairments with regard to family, school, and community functioning. Aggression and threats of violence are relatively frequent occurrences. According to researchers, external and/or restrictive interventions are the most frequently used tools for crisis reduction. In this article, the authors assess that such methods do not support residents’ abilities to effectively cope with crises. It is proposed in this article that developing residents’ internal coping methods through self-determination theory is a more effective tool for crisis reduction. Figure and references