I heard Dr Greene speak in in Malmö, Sweden, for the first time in August 2007, and that changed a lot for me. Since then, I have used and been helped by his ideas in my work coaching teachers and pupils in the elementary schools in Eslöv, Sweden. I have also been able to understand more about all of us, how we behave and why.
I was really thrilled by these new well-formulated ideas that gave answers to so many questions. There was only one small worry, a personal concern, after that day in August: What would now happen with my eight years of "solution focused" thinking? Would I have to abandon all that? But no, it turns out that Dr. Greene's model is very solution focused. And it is more than that…it allows us to speak about the troubles or difficulties without losing sight of the road for a better life.
My experience so far is that the biggest change in using the model with school kids with maladaptive behaviour is the way we now address and talk very openly about the situation at hand, especially with parents. Dr. Greene's model makes it easy to work together and look at what is not working (and why!) and agree on what could be a good idea or plan for action. I haven’t yet met one parent who wasn’t willing to discuss which lagging skills are getting in the way for their kid doing well. This is in no small part due to the model's humanistic approach.
The model's explanations of maladaptive behaviour make sense! The model is very respectful, precise, and useful, and helps us avoid dead-end explanations for the difficult situations that a person can get into.
However, sometimes this philosophy is regarded as naïve. For example, a student in my school was behaving badly, doing very little school work. His teacher questioned my remark that he probably wanted to do well but couldn’t.
A month later the boy was on medication. The teacher came to me and showed two full pages that he had written. (The boy was very happy about the work he’d done!)
-Look, she said, what the medicine did.
-That’s great, I said and added: Now that we see him doing this another question arises. Did he want to do that kind of work, before he had medicine?
Seeing kids as wanting to do well is not naive. All of us want to do well. If we have the ability we will behave well. If the demands put on us are appropriate we will comply. But if you ask a person to do something he can’t do you will see bad behaviour (perhaps a lie, or an evading manoeuvre); insist and you will see an “explosion”...i. e., more pronounced maladaptive behaviour. If you see bad behaviour from somebody - we know, thanks to Dr Greene, that this person has encountered an expectation that he can not meet. Now that’s how logical the model is.
The Danish psychologist Bo Hejlskov Elvén (formerly Jørgensen) points out in his book “Problemskapande beteende” (2009) that Dr. Greene has completely redefined maladaptive behaviour. Maladaptive behaviour is a result of frustration, and frustration is the result of difficulty meeting expectations.