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Why Plan B is Worth the Struggle

Jordan Spikes

What a powerful ending to 2-1/2 days of intensive training.

The day was winding down. We had just met as groups to discuss the challenges we all will face when trying to implement the Collaborative Problem Solving model into our systems of care. By now we had spent nearly 20 hours together—all 100 of us—and thoughts were starting to shift toward traveling home and returning to work the following day. A young man respectfully called for the floor and offered a few words of encouragement to the group.

He stated that he knew we were going to face challenges from here on out, but that we should be encouraged to fight past those obstacles. He then made a statement that silenced the room and will likely stick with everyone in attendance for a very long time: “Plan B saved my life.”

He shared that he was once a “Kyle”—one of the fabricated individuals with challenging behaviors we trainers use to practice the model—and that he was headed toward incarceration if it hadn’t been for the one adult who took that extra step and reached out to ask him what was going on—modeling true empathy and a desire to understand his situation without judgment.

He went on to say that although we might not see the fruits of our labors immediately—or even ever—that one question posed to him had changed his life around for the better, and it can do the same for others. He’s now looking to pay it forward, and is excited to use the skills he practiced over the course of the training to be that person who reaches out to those youth with extremely challenging behaviors; providing them with a life-line of empathy and understanding.

I felt honored to have him share his story with us. He demonstrated great courage and vulnerability, and his words will stick with me and motivate me as I continue to spread the word that “Kids do well if they can.”

It was pretty incredible to hear the story first-hand. There was another young guy that I was near when the trainee was sharing his story, and afterward the other guy jokingly said, “Hey, I don’t come to these things to cry.”

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