FUTURE OF EMOTIONAL GROWTH
October 10-11, 2003 Conference
at Lake Oswego, Oregon
By Lon Woodbury
Linda Houghton and her Training
Institute for Emotional Growth Education (TIEGE) hosted
a two-day conference at Lake Oswego, Oregon on
October 10-11, 2003. The history, scope and future
of emotional growth education
were discussed to determine: what it is, what it is
not, and how it can be applied when working with teens
who are struggling.
The highlight of the conference was a presentation
by Houghton. She explained how the term emotional
growth came from the CEDU schools
as a description of part of the work they did with
students in the 1980s.
Based largely on the child growth and development model
as explained by the author and psychiatrist Eric
she explained it as having some similarities with the
extended families and one-room schoolhouse of yesteryear.
Essentially, the emotional growth curriculum as developed
by CEDU was designed to take the child back through
all the normal developmental stages of childhood, to
ensure that each child would have another chance to
learn the lessons that might have been missed originally.
explained there are five basic components
to emotional growth education as she sees it.
- Community - An emotional growth school must be
treated as a community, with the faculty being
system. The focus is on group processes, with
a heavy emphasis on students helping each other to
their personal growth. The goal is a community
with a positive peer culture.
- Self-Study - A
central element to success in an emotional growth
school is the process of
self-study. Appropriate admissions is key to
though all the students are having troubles
and are struggling in their lives before coming
must be healthy enough to be capable of looking
at themselves and how they are living their
with serious clinical problems who need intensive
therapy will not respond well to this environment.
- Mentoring -
There is a mentoring component. Not only do staff
function largely as mentors,
who have been in the school longer are
encouraged and trained to act as mentors to the newer
- Arts -It will have a strong arts
program. The inability to express oneself is often
one of the
among students who are suitable for an
emotional growth school. Painting, sculpting,
and the other arts
are excellent ways for students to learn
how to begin to express what is locked
5) Student Leadership - The expectation
to become a student leader is integral
Every student is given the opportunity
to be a leader, and the school functions
when experienced students take on important
Houghton explained it is very difficult to define
or measure emotional growth. It is the opposite of
the scientific approach that requires precise measurements
and definitions, which exist in therapeutic institutions.
This is because, according to Houghton, emotional growth
education works with the whole child and there are
aspects of human beings, such as the spiritual side,
that cannot be defined or measured.
The conference started with a presentation and
workshop by author John Lee, whose recent books include
Growing Yourself Back Up, Facing the Fire: Experiencing
and Expressing Anger Appropriately, and Courting
a Woman’s Soul. He talked about regression, a frequently
used psychological term, which he defines as feeling
small and powerless, the way the person felt as a child.
He sees regression occurring when a person gets in
a situation that brings up some underlying rage. The
rage is unexpressed anger that had been allowed to
build because it wasn’t handled appropriately at the
time it first occurred. As a result, it has turned
to rage, causing a variety of behaviors that result
in the person beginning to regress emotionally until
feeling like a “little” person. In a sense, it is negative
“emotional growth,” at least on a temporary basis.
The conference also featured a video of CEDU founder
Mel Wasserman talking about the origins of CEDU and
the development of their philosophy of education which
became known as emotional growth.
The last part of the conference was devoted to more
discussions and explanations of the participants’ perspectives
about emotional growth. One observation was that the
type of student most appropriate for an emotional growth
school is the one who has had some early successes
in life, but somehow got off track. These early successes
give the staff something to work with when helping
the student refocus on attaining maturity in the journey
towards adulthood. Without those early successes, the
prospective student would be considered marginal so
far as whether the emotional growth curriculum would
Plans are already in the works for next year’s conference
and will be announced once they are finalized.