Control within residential care for adolescents is largely an illusion, and the higher up the management ladder one goes the more illusionary it becomes. Once we accept this and cease trying to achieve control through coercion or reward we become liberated to achieve what in fact we are seeking, a healthy environment where children’s needs are therapeutically met by staff whose wellbeing is valued and promoted. By giving away ‘control’ to both staff and young people through empowering and then motivating them, congruence is enhanced. People will, given the right resources within the right circumstances, most often choose to do the right thing and this is true of residential care services too.
Thus, by not seeking to control others we are less likely to need to exercise control and this is the great paradox of our current risk management and control hegemonies: by seeking to control the uncontrollable we actually diminish what we are seeking.
We must embrace risk within risk-tolerant relational approaches to care that promote the agency and internal locus of control of the staff and young people if we are to achieve positive outcomes for children in care. This is a true and vital form of congruence within care services. Control, like love, we must largely give away in order to regain, but then, both involve caring.