A potentially helpful way of responding sensitively and therapeutically to what young people are communicating through their behaviour can be summarised in the acronym AURA. AURA refers to being:
Being accessible requires being involved and interested in the young person’s life, supporting their access to, and involvement in, activities that are of interest to them. Being accessible is most powerful when it occurs proactively, such as those times that you check in with the young person when they are not looking for you, offer to transport them to their activities, or set aside time to do an activity together. Being accessible supports feelings of worth in the young person, new learning that you are there for them and can be relied upon, and reduced overwhelm at having to manage the world on their own.
We can communicate understanding of the inner world of the young person in our care through our words, actions, and emotional expression. Understanding is often referred to as validation; that is, an action that acknowledges the experience of the other person sensitively, accurately, and directly. Validation is reassuring. Validation supports positive beliefs about self and other, and new learning that others can be relied upon.
We can support the belief that the young person’s needs are understood, important, and will be responded to by an adult who can be trusted and relied upon by responding to their needs proactively. In so doing, we support the experience that they matter. This is reassuring to the young person and reduces their feelings of overwhelm. If you can anticipate the young person’s need, respond to it proactively.
Attunement refers to our congruent emotional response to those of the young person. In moments of attunement the young person feels heard and acknowledged in their experience. Attunement supports feelings of self-worth and trusting connection. Attunement is a biproduct of engagement. We tend to naturally fall into sync with others during shared interaction or activity. Attunement offers opportunities to help the young person better manage their emotions as they follow us back to calm. In support of attunement experiences there needs to be regular engagement with the young person over an activity of interest to them and which will enjoyed by you both.
By following these simple principles embodied in the AURA acronym you will support:
- Positive beliefs about self, others, and world,
- Lower arousal levels
- New (and functional learning) about access to needs provision
- Verbal expression of experiences and needs
You will also support self-worth and an improved approach to life and relationships.
For more information about the AURA Model and its implementation, please refer to my training of two weeks ago on behalf of Carer Kafe, which was delivered under the tile Early Trauma: The Infant’s Experience.
To go back, click here.
To access the handbook for this self-paced learning module, click here.