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Discovering the Difference Between Joy and Happiness

At Embark Behavioral Health, our programs focus on developing a sense of joy for children, adolescents and young adults. Take a closer look at the profound difference between joy and happiness, why it matters and how we cultivate lifelong joy at Embark programs across the country. 

Differentiating between happiness and finding joy is an important part of creating and sustaining security in adolescents. In a recent Wilderness Therapy & Residential Treatment Center Journey podcast Rob Gent, Chief Clinical Officer for Embark, expanded on our relationally-based treatment model known as CASA (Commitment, Acceptance, Security and Attunement). The ultimate goal of CASA, our development trauma treatment model, is joy, which ultimately comes from acceptance. 

Many of the students that come to Embark programs have experienced overwhelming stress leading to developmental trauma. At their core, they believe the world is unsafe, leaving them feeling alone and inadequate. Because of this, they approach the world and their relationships with trepidation, shunning relationships and blaming themselves for their abandonment or abuse. We believe that because the trauma our students experienced can only be healed through secure relationships. That’s where CASA, our relationally-based treatment model, comes into play. 

In this podcast, Rob speaks about the difference between joy and happiness. Providing perspective on emotional, relational and behavioral dysregulation, Rob discusses how parents can utilize the principles of CASA to increase self-worth in a child, create co-regulation, and set boundaries and limits for their children. In discussing the CASA framework and the importance of being able to create and sustain security with children and adolescents, he explores the role of joy as an essential aspect of self-worth. 

When properly developed through the parent-child relationship, joy forms the foundation of finding meaning in suffering, as opposed to happiness which can be the avoidance of suffering. In our programs, we often see people who are in tremendous emotional, physical or psychological pain and that much of their harmful coping mechanisms stem from the drive to avoid that pain. The avoidance cycle becomes addictive. Our students find that cultivating secure relationships grounded in Commitment, Acceptance, Security and Attunement (CASA) can resolve feelings of shame. 

“Joy is about the capacity to find meaning in suffering, rather than just seeking happiness. If you can find meaning in the suffering it provides the capacity for joy. It’s the product of a shared experience.”

Rob Gent, Chief Clinical Officer of Embark Behavioral Health

This podcast is a dialogue between parents who have been on a journey of recovery with their child. Fueled by their experiences, these parents share their personal experiences to help others struggling with emotional, relational, and behavioral functioning. Listen in as we discuss the techniques from our CASA model that can establish a secure, reliable and attuned relationship optimizing development, connection and joy. 

Click on the link below to hear about Embark’s perspective on the Wilderness Therapy and Residential Treatment Journey Podcast.

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Brandon Spence