Loving kids from hard places
Updated: Feb 3
At CCHO, we have the privilege of loving kids from hard places. How we give and receive love is unique to each individual. We take the time to learn each child’s love language to help them experience their worth in Christ. We asked Emily Frazier, LISW-S, clinical director in our children’s residential center, to share more about love languages as a relational and healing tool in trauma treatment.
What are the five love languages?
The love languages are how we best experience (and express) love with others. The five love languages are: physical touch, quality time, acts of service, receiving gifts and words of affirmation. These are based on the book, “The 5 Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman, and operate under the premise that relationships grow best when we understand each other.
By knowing and speaking their primary love language, we learn how to best understand, relate, and address the deeper-level needs of our residents both in terms of connection and in expression of love needs.
How do we incorporate the five love languages into residential life?
Within the first two weeks of a resident’s stay, their primary therapist administers the love language quiz. Here, clients answer questions tailored to their age (children, teen, etc.). The primary therapist then utilizes the results of their quiz/love language to implement an Integrated Guidance Plan (IGP). This helps our residential staff members (both operational and clinical) know how to best connect with and speak to the love language that resonates with each resident.
The IGP also includes information about how to best connect with residents, their likes/dislikes, triggers, interventions that are helpful for them, a brief history of their trauma as well as things for staff to avoid doing. IGPs are reviewed weekly to ensure that the most up-to-date information is available to our team so our residents can be served in the most appropriate ways.
What are some examples of tailoring one-on-one time to a resident’s specific love language?
When new residents come in, all staff (clinical and operational) focus on spending one-on-one time with each resident individually. This can consist of playing games or engaging in an activity (like baking, coloring, going for a walk/hike, etc.). There is much reflective play and relationship building that occurs during these times.
This is a process that typically takes about 30 days and incorporates love languages, client’s stated preferences and what we have discovered about the client as they progress through their initial engagement phase of treatment. It is a way to increase felt safety and for clients to experience unconditional love and acceptance that is tailored to their individual needs.
Our residents have often received broken messages on what love is. What are safe and healthy ways we show love to our residents?
Our residents are learning new and healthy ways to both receive and express love. By incorporating their individualized love languages, we help residents learn more about themselves as well as how to establish boundaries that will protect and empower them. As our team models appropriate affection, attention, nurturing, structure and love, our residents become equipped to understand and communicate their needs and wants to others. Safe expressions of love towards our residents include side hugs, therapeutic hugs, gentle redirection, modeling appropriate expression of needs (including awareness and communication) and boundary awareness.
If you are passionate about helping youth experience safety and love, we invite you to explore a career opportunity with us.