Spotlight on: Tanya Curtis.
Behaviour Specialist and Counsellor
In this, our first Spotlight for 2018 we introduce to you another much loved member of the UniMed Brisbane team, the delightfully honest and playful Tanya Curtis.
Tanya is founder and Director of FABIC (Functional Assessment & Behaviour Interventions Centre) on the Gold Coast, a multi-disciplinary behaviour specialist centre offering a range of support services for children, teens and adults to develop the understanding and skills required to live their full potential.
Tanya's founding vision was to support people understand and change unwanted behaviours, while at the same time valuing each person's unique qualities.
Tanya spends 2 days a fortnight working from UniMed Brisbane and in the interview below encapsulates the uniqueness of her approach and why it is so relevant to us all.
Q1. Why or how did you come to choose this as a profession?
When I was 13 years of age I watched an episode of the TV program 60-minutes. In this episode a group of people took some homeless youth on a camp for a week. Each of these youth appeared to have major behaviour and/or emotional challenges. The camp facilitators offered a way of being with these teenagers that allowed them to break down some barriers and protections and offer a different foundation from what they had experienced thus far in their life. Watching the transformation in those teenagers from angry, hard, withdrawn and/or given up to sweet, vulnerable and ready to embrace their future in a short period time was the moment I clocked that I will work in this field.
However it was not until I was 25 that I started studying in the field of psychology, that I soon changed to the field of Behaviour Management and Counselling. There was a part of me that never wanted to be what I called an ‘institutionalised psychologist’ … going from one educational facility of school to another of university. Thus I embraced what I now call the ‘classroom of life’, getting life experience in a variety of different ways … lots of different jobs, traveling within Australia and overseas as a photographer and just being with people from all walks of life.
When I was 25 I enrolled in a psychology course, but soon realised that I was not that fussed on the theory and switched to the behaviour management field that was practical and with people from day one .. here I felt I had found my niche.
18 years later I now love my job as I gett to be with people of all walks of life all day every day supporting their healing process.
Q2. How has your work developed over the years from when you studied and who or what have been your inspiration and influences?
When I studied at university I never really felt like I was studying … I found the behavioural degrees I enrolled in were putting a theory and structure around what I had innately known for a long time. It was interesting as the degrees I studied were new and in my masters degrees I was the only person in my class … that was super awesome ;-)
However after leaving university I came to understand that the field of behaviour was focussed very much on supporting people to function in life and the industry as a whole celebrates function as a point of success.
In more recent years my approach to behaviour has changed quite significantly. Although on the surface level my work appears quite similar from when I first started in 2002, it has in fact changed considerably. There are way too many shifts to expand here, however just a couple to highlight.
Firstly, I now know that there is Joy Beyond Function …. And thus function and committing to participating in the aspects of day-to-day life is a very much needed part of the healing process. However the behaviour industry is failing when we celebrate function.
Further to this I have embraced that relief and solution based strategies are additional failings of our society as they offer at best short-term relief from the current demands or challenges of life. Lasting change will only occur when we embrace self-mastery. Thus my work has changed significantly in weeding out the relief based strategies I was taught to embracing the processes required to bring about lasting behaviour change.
These shifts in my approach to behaviour has been gradual over the last 7 years … since I attended my first course run by Universal Medicine where I began to deepen my understanding of behaviour. Whether it be courses presented by Serge Benhayon or healing sessions from Natalie, Michael and Curtis Benhayon i have become a sponge for wanting to understand the root causes of behaviours and forever expanding this understanding … human behaviour is so very interesting, particularly when you study the root cause.
Q3. What sort of people and behaviours do you see most in your practise?
Wow … where do I begin with that question.
The simplest way to answer that is to highlight that every single person has in their repertoire a series of behaviours they would prefer not to use. Whether that be arguing or nit-picking with a friend, family member, colleague, or partner to over eating, undereating, taking substances of any sort that don’t support the body, to anxiety, temper tantrums, withdrawal, depression, procrastination or just not expressing what is there to express … the list of non-preferred behaviours we as humanity use is endless.
However the look of the behaviour (what we call the form) is not that important … As a Behaviour Specialist I am far more interested in the reason why the behaviours are occurring. There is NO behaviour that is random and we must remember that every single behaviour is happening for a reason; this fact is not often liked, albeit irrefutable.
Thus whether it be an adult, teenager or child we are all the same … in that we all use unwanted behaviours; albeit in different forms. However the reason for each and every behaviour will be different for each person … thus we must address this reason (i.e., the root cause of the behaviour) if we are to ever see lasting behaviour change.
Given we know you encounter many challenging behaviours and that you sustain a very positive and respectful relationship with your clients, tell us about the underlying philosophical approach that makes this possible.
The answer to this question requires a book in of itself as it is important not only for our approach with clients but with humanity as a whole … however I will refrain from the book for now to the best of my ability 😉
Firstly it is crucial that I never EVER judge a person based on the behaviours they have used. A behaviour is NOT and NEVER will be a person … a behaviour is simply what a person is doing. As we say in the clinic … sometimes what you do is thumbs up and sometimes what you do is thumbs down, but you BEING you is always thumbs up.
Part of the foundations of supporting our clients is to ensure that I never stop seeing the awesome, amazing and loveable being that was there at the birth of each person and will remain there until their last breath; and beyond. When you see a person for this quality you know when their behaviour does not match this; there is something going on for them… this ‘something’ is my focus.
Thus I embrace my favourite question of ‘I wonder why’ … when any person uses a behaviour that does not match their innate beauty-full quality that I know them to be; I simply ask “I wonder why … I wonder what part of life you are experiencing that you are perceiving as challenging?” … the answer to this questions helps me understand the reason and root cause of the behaviour.
Therefore it is this reason that is addressed and a person is never and will never be identified by their behaviour.
Are there common behaviours or issues you see that would apply to many of us in our everyday life that you can comment on and offer pointers for?
Yep … we all use unwanted behaviours; this is common to all; albeit they look different from person to person. What do your unwanted behaviours look like? Mine are still plentiful 🤔
The key pointers are:
1.Never judge your own or others unwanted behaviours … we all have them.
2. Be honest in exposing your unwanted behaviours. Exposing unwanted patterns allows the healing process to begin whereas denial buries the root cause further in the body … only to be resurfaced sometime in the future; it’s just a matter of when?
Thus ‘honesty without judgment’ is crucial to healing.
3. Acknowledging our unwanted patterns opens the door to understanding … understanding allows us to identify the root cause of our unwanted behaviours.
Thus ‘Understanding and judgment cannot exist together’
4. With understanding we can address the parts of life a person does not yet perceive they are equipped to respond to; a crucial step for bringing lasting behaviour change to ourselves and/or any other person
5. Know you are not and never will be perfect in all that you do … Perfection in your doing is NOT possible for anyone.
6. Embrace life as one massive classroom …. Filled with lesson after lesson. Our reactions and unwanted behaviours are all simply showing us there is a part of life we are yet to self-master … thus embracing the lesson is all that is needed to bring about lasting change.
7. We are all forever students and forever teachers of life. As a student of life it is always important to discern who will be your teacher of life in any given moment … I tend to
Remember … Behaviour change can be fun … so use your resources and enjoy … lasting change is well worth it.
For more information visit Tanya's website or for enquiries click here