Core Meaning


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-What Makes New Haven Residential Treatment Center Different: Core meaning

We all carry core beliefs that impact how we see and feel about ourselves and consequently how we behave and interact in our relationships.

The analogy that I use to explain this concept to families is that of a tree.  Imagine a big beautiful oak in the in the middle of summer.  Typically the first thing you notice about this oak tree are all the green leaves.  What we don’t notice or pay attention to are all the branches and trunk.  And rarely, if ever, do we think about the underground root system.  After all, we can’t see it.   But the root system is the most critical part of the tree.  It determines what the tree looks like, what color it turns in the autumn, the health of the tree, and ultimately whether or not the tree survives.  These roots will impact the trunk and branches and the trunk and branches will impact the leaves.

Our core beliefs are like the roots of that oak tree.  We don’t see them or even know they are there unless we go digging for them.  Imagine I carry the core belief that I am unlovable.  How am I likely to feel about myself if I’m unloveable?  Not very good.  And if I don’t feel good about myself and believe I can’t be loved how am I likely to behave in relationships?  I might isolate myself.  I might push others away by being rude.  I might use others for my gain with no thought for them.  I might sabotage any opportunity for a loving relationship.

From this example, you can see why it is ineffective to focus on changing the behavior.  If one unhealthy behavior becomes extinct but the core belief remains the same we know another unhealthy behavior will grow.  Once we become aware of our core beliefs we have the opportunity to make real, lasting change.  Addressing our core beliefs allow us to shift how we see ourselves, feel about ourselves.  And once we shift how we see ourselves it is only nature that we will then behave differently.  Digging for the core beliefs can be messy and painful but if we are to experience lasting change this is work that has to happen.


-Sarah Engler, LCSW