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Phase 3: Insight

Phase 3: Introduction to the Insight Phase

During the Insight Phase, internal motivation is more evident. The student and her family are able to verbalize personal insights into what they do and why they do it. They are aware of ego-defense mechanisms and their destructive nature. The student and her family display a willingness to be open and honest and are working to restore trust. Relationships with others become key in learning about self.

1. Earn two beads assigned from your Therapist, and one of your choice for a total of three beads.
2. Keep a daily gratitude journal for two weeks. Check in with your Therapist and Values Coach throughout the experience.
3. Find a quote that is meaningful to you in relation to Insight.  Share what it means to you with your Values Coach, and in a Community Meeting or General Group.
4. Create a visual representation of your past, present, and future.  Discuss it with your Values Coach.
5. Demonstrate through peer feedback pages (3.1) that the majority of your peers feel that you exemplify the qualities of Insight Level.
6. After discussing the Three Levels of Communication (3.2), Explore your core issues and core meaning with your Therapist. Identify and understand how they come out in your relationships.
7. Show that you accept and apply feedback appropriately.
8. Show that you demonstrate personal insight in daily living.

9. Parents complete two beads assigned from your Therapist.
10. After discussing the Three Levels of Communication (3.2), parents should explore their core issues and core meaning and identify how they come out in their relationships.
11. Parents demonstrate an understanding and application of the principles of communication.

12. Each member can show that they are in the habit of accepting feedback and participating maturely in family therapy.
13. As a family, discuss each member’s core issues and core meaning using the Core Issue/Core Meaning Worksheet. (3.3) Identify how they contribute to patterns in the family.
14. Family members demonstrate their ability to listen reflectively to each other during family therapy.
15. Parents and student begin to identify what “healthy support” means to them, and the people in their life who qualify as such.

16. Discuss the Three Levels of Communication and Reflective Listening worksheets. (3.2) Practice using these skills.
17. Practice using negotiation skills and be willing to work through power struggles and lose/lose situations. Also discuss skills that will be used in your home. Use the Negotiation Module to help. (3.4)
18. In Family Therapy, run a family community meeting with your Therapist monitoring.  Use the “family community meeting” sheet as a guide.  (3.5)Therapist
19. The family will discuss current roles and how they are either working or not working in their family.  The family will identify what roles are important to have in their home moving forward.  (3.6)

3.1 | Peer Feedback

During the Insight Phase, internal motivation is more evident. The student and her family are able to verbalize personal insights into what they do and why they do it. They are aware of ego-defense mechanisms and their destructive nature. The student and her family display a willingness to be open and honest and are working to restore trust. Relationships with others become key in learning about self.

On Insight Phase the student understands:

  • the need to follow the rules without complaint and without staff direction
  • doing chores well and without complaint is important
  • benefit of being open in therapy
  • benefit of participating & learning in school & groups
  • her treatment issues and her responsibility in them
  • and sees inappropriate behavior without justifying it
  • the benefit of being honest with staff and peers
  • how to give feedback respectfully and accept it non-defensively to all people including her family
  • that making choices that match her values is necessary
  • the difference between external & internal motivation
  • how harmful gossip can be

Download the following worksheet to complete the peer feedback.

3.2 | Three Levels of Communication: Creating Healing in the Family System

Most families seeking residential care have experienced some type of prolonged stress, heightened anxiety and significant crises. These events create distress in the lives of family members, as well as produce discord, dissension and disengagement in the family system. Resulting emotional reactions often include feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, violation, anger and despair. Individuals and families become hyper-sensitive to, and acutely aware of, present and future interactions, with the goal of protecting oneself, from further distress. Trauma has been experienced and a trauma reaction formed. Individuals and families become focused on anxious attempts to avoid reliving this trauma and/or frantic efforts to defend against and control the potential for future trauma, instead of meaningful, here-and-now oriented functioning. These frantic efforts often result in family members either becoming Enmeshed with the crisis and/or the crisis person, or Disengaged from the crisis and/or the crisis person.

When someone becomes Enmeshed (see model below), their lives are driven by reactivity to those with whom they are Enmeshed. They become dependent and struggle with maintaining autonomy in stressful circumstances. They become consumed by the toxic relationship, often resulting in some loss of ability to attend to other important responsibilities (including their own needs).

On the other side of the spectrum, a Disengaged person has isolated themselves from the crisis person or the family system dysfunction to the point of spiritual, emotional and sometimes physical absence in the relationship. They become consumed in work or service duties, distract themselves with hobbies or other relationships, or otherwise isolate themselves. Where the Enmeshed person loses the ability to act intentionally in the relationship due to loss of autonomy, anxious attachment and frantic over-involvement, the Disengaged individual loses influence due to their lack of involvement.

Both Enmeshment and Disengagement contribute to break-down in the family system, loss of healthy influence and individual dysfunction. In this manner, efforts to respond to the crisis often lead to further perpetuation of such. Many families describe this experience as an emotional rollercoaster that wreaks havoc on the family and in their personal lives.      

The process of removing oneself or the family from this state of crisis reactivity requires the creation of appropriate space and boundaries in family relationships. New Haven refers to this healthy middle point on the continuum between Enmeshment and Disengagement as the achievement of Interdependence in family relationships. When a family achieves Interdependence they value independence, growth, accountability and responsibility. Individual members are driven by an internal locus of control and feel a sense of self-confidence and esteem. The family understands that it is healthy to provide and receive appropriate levels of guidance, support and structure. Family members are resilient to stress, remain flexible, and are purposeful in their relationships. A state of Interdependence is the ultimate goal New Haven encourages families to strive toward. Below is a model highlighting these relational dynamics:


Interdependent (Differentiated)


Asset 1
Interdependent - Differentiated

One of the key ways in which family members can remove themselves from a crisis orientation into a differentiated, interdependent orientation is through the use of the Three Levels of Communication.

Three Levels of Communication
New Haven has developed a model for communicating within family relationships. This model highlights three levels of communication in which a family engages to promote emotional safety in relationships.  It also assists families in determining core issues underlying a given issue and/or conflict. By focusing on the core issues, families avoid power struggles, fear-based communications, and anger-based communications. They are also better able to resolve issues and conflicts through focus on the root of the matter.

Content: The words being said (inhibits emotional safety)
  • The Outer Level is information only, the literal meaning of the words being said and/or the observed behaviors being displayed (what you would hear and see as an objective observer).
  • Content is where all conflicts occur and where families get stuck on the rollercoaster
  • Depth charges (hurtful, poignant relational attacks) and squirrels (chasing meaningless topics) serve the purpose of distracting from the real issues
  • Content is rooted in the Emotions that are associated with the Core Issue, therefore Content standing alone generally does not appear logical or rational and is the least productive place of intervention.
  • Instinct will often get us stuck on Content Level Communication via advice giving, lecturing, and the use of logic and rational to “fix” the Content, when greater benefits will be had looking past Content to the underlying Emotions and the Core Issues.
Emotion: What is the emotion or the feeling? What is really being said?
Core Issue: Belief about self (hidden and protected)

Student Example

“Why don’t you trust me?! You NEVER trust me! You’re ruining my life!”
Unworthy, incapable, angry, hurt, scared, hopeless, frantic.
Core Issue
I am a screw-up – I am not worthy or loveable.

Parent Example

"You WILL obey me and be home on time. I am sick of you ruining this family!"
Frustrated, angry, hurt, scared, frantic.
Core Issue
I am a failure – I am a bad parent.
Core Issue

Using Three Levels of Communication requires practice and patience. It may feel awkward at first, but with time it will feel more natural and become integrated into your personal communication style.

Core Meaning
Core Meaning is another principle that is helpful in negating destructive, reactive interactions, while encouraging relational healing and nurture. Core Meaning is the realization of one’s innate and limitless Value, Worth, Purpose and Aptitude. Core Meaning positively transforms the previously held Core Issue by converting one’s negative beliefs about self into something that is healthy and that positively promotes their existence. This helps decrease the feeling of PTSD- the painful left over from the traumatic journey that brought the family to New Haven. As one begins to transform Core Issue into Core Meaning, they become free to connect with the positive about themselves. They gain a more optimistic world view. They better appreciate and strengthen their Interdependent relationships. Trepidation in family relations diminishes. They become increasingly productive in navigating life’s journey.

A goal for each individual and family at New Haven is to seek to live with Core Meanings. Interdependent family relationships are an effective and fulfilling avenue through which to strengthen Core Meaning. Below is an example of how Interdependent relationships can be used to nurture Core Meaning through use of the Three Levels of Communication Model:

Core Meaning:

Family members are informed of Core Issues and intentional in working from the framework of Core Meanings. All verbal and behavioral displays are understood as meaningful communication. The Core Meaning (innate value and worth) of each family member is understood and appreciated independent of Core Issues. Family members become effective and efficient at supporting one another toward positive change.


Student Example

“I would really like to go out tonight – what is your concern?” (Interdependent)
Empathy for parent concern, empowered, valued, in-control, responsible, validated
Core Meaning
I am capable, loved and respected

Parent Example

“Let’s discuss you going out and curfew and figure out a viable plan”. (Win-Win orientation)
Empathy for child concern, empowered, valued, confident, safe, in-control, validated
Core Meaning
I am competent, loved and respected
Core Meaning

3.3 | Core Issue/Core Meaning Worksheet

Explore your core issues and core meaning and identify how they come out in your relationships. 

Download the following worksheet. Students and parents should both complete this activity.  

3.4 | Negotiation

In healthy relationships, negotiation is a skill that allows for each person to be heard and have his/her needs taken into account.  Through negotiation, we learn to see issues from several points of view and it enables us to work as a team towards agreed upon rules and choices. Negotiation is a great tool for building trust, intimacy, safety and interdependence.

Negotiation is also an art. There are several things that need to be taken into account for negotiation to feel successful. This module is designed to help you understand areas with which you, as a family, may struggle.  Some skills that will be addressed you already may do naturally, some you may have learned recently in therapy and some will be entirely new. Each family has their own style of negotiating, but the principles of successful negotiating tend to be consistent.

The last part of this module includes several case studies that you can read and decide how you would negotiate the outcome.  At times it is helpful for us to negotiate an issue that is outside of ourselves to get a feel for it, before jumping into our own heated and intense emotional issues.

One huge block to achieving successful negotiation skills is that we have a hard time separating from intense emotions and stepping outside of ourselves enough to understand and consider everyone’s point of view. We shut down  because we are afraid that if we give a little, or open ourselves up we might get taken advantage of, or have something taken away from us. We will begin by looking at some of requirements of successful negotiation as well as some of the stumbling blocks to successful negotiation.

Successful Negotiation Musts

  1. Ask yourself what you are willing to sacrifice and put it “on the table”.
  2. Make your own offer, do not offer for someone else or tell them what their offer should be.
  3. Use responsible language in your offers, thoughts and feelings.
  4. Explain on an emotional level how you see the situation and why you are having difficulties wanting to sacrifice.
  5. Negotiation is not deciding whose side is better or more right, but coming to an agreement somewhere in the middle.

Stumbling Blocks to Successful Negotiation

Power Plays

Power plays tend to happen when we are feeling scared or vulnerable. We feel threatened and so our impulse is to want to control the situation or person. A power play is anything that is said or done that is used to create an unequal ground, or to place someone in an inappropriate power position. Power plays are unhealthy because they destroy safety and trust.

Example: I leave the room in the middle of a negotiation because I’m not getting what I want and refuse to come back.  No one gets what they want and I have caused a feeling of helplessness for everyone involved. I’ve taken all the power for whether or not the negotiation will even take place.

Power Struggles
Lose/Lose or Win/Lose Orientations

What to consider in family therapy:

  • Take some time in family therapy to explore if any of these dynamics come out in your family.
  • Discuss why as a family you might fall into these patterns.
  • Discuss how your family handles fear.

A Beginning Place

To begin the process of negotiation in your family, it is important to delineate what is negotiable and what is not negotiable. Every family has a different idea as to what is negotiable.

For your family, what would be a general rule that would help you decide whether something is negotiable or not negotiable?

Here at New Haven, as a family, you will have the opportunity to develop a ‘Rules and Consequences’ contract for when your daughter returns home. The contract making process is a process of negotiation. The Rules and Consequences Contract will be a part of your transition plan. For your family to be successful we want everyone to be on the same page and understand how to work through issues in a safe and connected way.

What to consider in family therapy:

  • As you set up this contract notice how the process is difficult.
  • Discuss what stumbling blocks are coming up as you are trying to create the contract.
  • How is everyone feeling as they are putting their ideas on the table?

Case Studies

For each case study consider the following questions:

  1. How do each of you view what is going on for the people in the case study?
  2. Who do you identify with emotionally-why?
  3. Is this a negotiable or not negotiable issue for you as parents?
  4. What options can each of you come up with that would take into account everyone’s feelings and needs to some extent?
  5. How would you approach the issue in order to negotiate?
Case Study #1

It is a Wednesday night and Suzie wants to stay out until midnight with some friends that mom and dad have not met before. Usually curfew is at 10:00pm on weekdays and midnight on weekends. Suzie promises that she will be safe and that these people are really cool. Mom and dad don’t think she should go out at all and suggest that she watches some TV or reads a book. Suzie gets mad and stomps off to her room screaming that no one understands and that mom and dad just don’t want her to have any friends.

Case Study #2
Case Study #3
Case Study #4

3.5 | Family Community Meeting

Purpose of the Family Community Meeting:

  1. Set and review weekly goals.
  2. Receive and give encouragement.
  3. Receive and give constructive criticism.
  4. Express problems between family members.
  5. Review the weekly schedule.

Responsibilities of Community Leader: (Family members rotate this position weekly)

  1. Announce specific parts of the meeting.
  2. Call on family member when his/her hand is raised.
  3. Maintain order throughout the meeting.

Appropriate Interaction Guidelines:

  1. Raise hands to speak.
  2. Wait to speak until called on by the community leader.
  3. Use gentle “I” statements when confronting another family member.
    • (Remember to do this at appropriate times: feedback, problem/concerns.)
  4. Be cautious not to speak out of turn.
  5. Try to maintain a soft tone with all comments.

Topics Addressed In The Meeting:

Family members state their goals from the previous week and share with the family whether they feel that they accomplished it or not.  They then state the goal that they will work on in the upcoming week.
After each person states his/her goals, there is an opportunity for family members to give him/her a brief evaluation of his/her performance during the week. The intent of feedback is to reinforce positive behaviors and to help the person recognize negative behaviors so that he/she may make corrections. Each person should always receive two positives and one negative or constructive feedback.
Any complaint or issue that needs to be resolved should be discussed at this time. It is essential that when addressing all problems and concerns that the Appropriate Interaction Guidelines are followed.
This time is for any family member who has information that he/she needs to make known to the whole family, to do so.
Any questions may be asked at this time.
This will vary according to each family’s need, but this would be an appropriate time to coordinate schedules and to designate the time for next week’s Family Community Meeting.

3.6 | Family Roles

Roles shape how we interact with each other in the family system.  At times, roles function to create and maintain a balance in the family system.  These roles have positive and negative aspects to them.  The key ingredient is understanding how well these roles work for the family, and how they help or hurt family members in their effort to establish deep, meaningful, and safe relationships.  Following are a number of roles that can exist in a family:

Hero "good child."
Hero "good child."  Also known as the "responsible child."  This person is a high achiever, carries the pride of the family, and overcompensates in order to avoid the image and feeling of being inadequate.  He/She has the skill of being a leader, being an organizer, being goal-oriented, and being self-discipline.  They often lack spontaneity, the ability to play, follow, and relax, and usually needs to be right.
Rescuer takes care of others' needs and emotions and problem-solves for others in the system; he/she might have difficulty with conflict.  He/She takes on the role of rescuer in the name of helping others, though the true meaning is to take care of his/her own needs, such as relieving anxiety.  He/She is a Mediator, yet doesn't realize that helping hurts at times.  This person lives with a lot of guilt and is challenged with being able to focus on him/herself.
Mediator can be a rescuer type though also works at keeping the peace in the system.  This person does the emotional work of the family to avoid conflict.  He/She acts as a buffer, and does it in the name of helping others, although it may be for his/her own needs.  This can be a healthy role depending upon how the person mediates.  Does he/she trust others to work it out with a little guidance, or does he/she feel he/she needs to direct each step along the way?
Scapegoat/Black sheep
Scapegoat/Black sheep the "identified patient," meaning the person that other family members feel needs the most help.  Usually, this is the family member who is in treatment. This person carries the family system's symptoms the obvious person with the problems because the family system is not willing to work through its problems or doesn't have the skills to work through problems.  The strengths of this person are: the willingness to be close to his/her own feelings, a greater level of honesty, and at times a sense of humor.  However, there may also be an inappropriate expression of feelings, and the person may experience social and emotional problems.  At times he/she is unable to follow direction.
Switchboard this role tends to be the central information person in the family system.  He/She keeps track of what's going on in the system by being aware of who's doing what and when.  This person has strength in being the central person to go to and understands how the family system is doing.  However, his/her focus is everyone else's business, and he/she focuses on others' issues rather than his/her own.
Power broker
Power broker this person works at maintaining a hierarchy in the family with him/herself at the top of the structure.  His/Her safety and security with life depends upon feeling in control of the environment around him/her so they can feel a pseudo (false)safety within him/herself.
Lost child
Lost child this is the subservient good child, obedient, passive and hidden in the trauma.  The pay off is that he/she avoids being a problem.  He/She does not take the time or energy that other children (i.e., Scapegoat) do.  He/She has the ability to be flexible and easy going.  However, he/she usually lacks direction, is fearful of making decisions, and follows without questioning.
Clown uses humor to offset the conflict of the family and to create a sense that things are okay.  This person has a talent to readily lighten the moment yet he/she hides his/her genuine personality.
Vortex this person is like a power broker.  The system revolves around this person.  Some power brokers act it out (i.e., scapegoat, etc.) whereas others work at keeping a structure in place which he/she is in control of.
Cheerleader this person provides support and encouragement to others.  There is usually a balance in taking care of his/her own needs while providing a positive influence on others around him/her.
Nurturer this person provides emotional support, creates safety, is available to others, and can be a Mediator.  He/She focuses on having and meeting emotional needs, usually in a balanced manner.
Thinker this person provides the objective, reasoning focus.  His/Her strength is being able to see situations in a logical, objective manner.  However, his/her ability to connect emotionally with others can be a challenge.
Truthteller this person reflects the system as it is.  At times the challenge is how that information is relayed.  Other members of this system may be offended and/or avoid this truthteller person because of the power of the truth that he/she holds.  Strength occurs when this person is coupled with another positive role player such as a nurturer, cheerleader, etc.


  1. If there is a role you feel exists in your family, yet isn’t listed here, how would you describe it or what would you call that role?
  2. What is/are your role(s) in your family system?
  3. What roles do you see other family members exhibiting?
  4. How do you think these roles are working for your family?
  5. What roles do you feel don’t work for your family?
  6. What are some of the roles you wish your family members evidenced more often?

Family Phase Application

Instructions: In order to apply for your next phase, each family member, values coach, and therapist(s) must complete their part.  Once each section is complete, the form can be turned in with the student’s values binder.

Download the following document to complete the family phase application.

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