The conceptual underpinnings of Waypointe’s model draws significantly from published and recognized models of learning, change, and transition, most notably from Bridges Transition Model, Mezirow’s Transformative Learning Theory, and Pepescu’s Transitional Learning Model.
According to Bridge’s Model of Transition, transition typically involves three stages:
- Ending, Losing and Letting Go
- The Neutral Zone
- The New Beginning
The first stage is often the most confusing and emotionally challenging. One needs to accept that something is ending before fully being ready to accept the new idea that lies ahead. When acceptance (of what is being left behind or what lies ahead) is delayed significantly, there is often a stagnation of development and inability to move forward. Some of our young adults are stuck at this first stage – in that they are having difficulty letting go of the past or embracing the new role that awaits them. The second phase is the bridge between the old and new – and this is where we find many of our young adults. Typically, there is resentment about the change, low morale and low productivity, anxiety about the new role, status or identity and skepticism. They often lack role models they can identify with and emulate. At Waypointe, our mission is to help young adults accept what needs to be left behind, accept what lies ahead and move through the Neutral Zone with support and preparation to embrace the New Beginning.
The challenge in making this transition (losing and letting go of adolescence and embracing the new beginning of adulthood) may not only be complicated by a symptoms related to mental illness but also due in part to earlier experiences with change and the resulting “frame of reference” that developed – that is the associations, concepts, beliefs, feelings, and conditioned responses about what change means to him. These operate as perceptual filters so that as people come upon a new experience, the frame of reference (or also better described as “meaning perspectives”) act as a sieve through which each new experience is interpreted and given meaning. However, when new experiences stretch the boundaries of existing meaning perspectives or our meaning perspectives are limited or littered with traumatic experiences, the ability to make a successful transition is compromised or in some cases, altogether rejected.
Thus, the work that many young people need to accomplish is much more complicated than just “getting their act together”. It is about transforming their meaning perspective, how they think about themselves and ability to endure and accomplish transitions. This is accomplished in two ways – through instrumental and communicative learning. Simply, it is the blending of learning new, adaptive tasks that are supportive of the role identified (i.e. independence, being an adult) and transparency in communication about the pre-existing values, ideas, beliefs and emotions that impact the learning and completion of the aforementioned tasks while being exposed to new values, beliefs and emotional experience toward developing a new frame of reference or meaning perspective.
The goal is to help the young person become an autonomous thinker, by learning how to negotiate his own values, meanings and purposes rather than to uncritically act on those he learned along the way. It is a “perspective transformation” – a more fully developed frame of reference that is inclusive, differentiating, permeable, critically reflective and integrative of experience.
The following are the ten phases of perspective transformation as identified by Mezirow. In parenthesis is the corresponding phase at Waypointe, recognizing that the first three occur before coming to Waypointe, while the fourth becomes clear through the admissions process as the young man recognizes he is not alone.
- A disorienting dilemma such as a major life transition
- Self-examination with feelings of guilt or shame
- A critical assessment of assumptions (what do I think and believe about myself, the world, etc)
- Recognize that one’s discontent and process of transformation are shared and that others have negotiated a similar change
- Exploration of options for new roles, relationships, and actions (WELCOME & PLANNING)
- Planning a new course of action (PLANNING)
- Acquisition of knowledge and skills for implementing one’s plans (DISCOVERY)
- Provisionally trying out new roles (DISCOVERY)
- Building of competence and self confidence in new roles and relationships (DISCOVERY & TRANSITION)
- A re-integration of one’s life on the basis of conditions dictated by one’s new perspective (ACHIEVEMENT)
The careful marriage of mental health treatment and residence based life transition services equip the Waypointe participant with the tools to re-engage with his role as a young adult, provides meaningful and practical support as progresses into new levels of autonomy, and establishes a strong foundation for continued success managing future transitions.