Our Approach

Using evidence-based strategies to help young people thrive

Empowering youth to succeed through love

The Domus Relational Model takes an evidence-based approach to help youth impacted by trauma to regulate, relate, and reason. When young people feel safe and loved, they engage in our programs and learn the lifelong skills they need to pursue their own path to self-sufficiency.

Elements of Our Relational Model

All elements are interwoven and integral to the success of our programs. 

Challenging systems on behalf of the youth we serve

We recognize and address the inequity and racist practices and policies that impact our young people, both within and outside our organization.

We actively train organizations and individuals to be anti-racist and drive anti-racist organization and action in our community, engaging people of all ages. Internally, all staff attend the 3-day Undoing Racism Community Organizing Workshop. In partnership with community and thought leaders, we help others see and understand the roots of oppression and the dynamics of race and how they play out in our homes, workplaces, and communities.

Manage mood & improve decision-making

The connection between our Thoughts, Emotions, and Behaviors (TEB) impacts our decisions, moods, and interactions with ourselves and others. When a person changes unhelpful thought patterns, they will also change unhelpful feelings and behaviors. Many people experience persistent negative emotions without realizing that negative thoughts or unhealthy behaviors are to blame.

TEB skills are based in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and help people observe the connection between thoughts, emotions, and behaviors and learn strategies to break free of negative cycles. They also help people manage their moods, expand their choices, and improve their decision-making.

Domus leaders and staff are coached extensively in TEB skill-building to gain awareness of their own thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. By using these social-emotional skills in all important interactions, Domus team members model and teach these skills to help youth make positive behavior changes and improve emotion regulation.

Sense of feeling seen, heard, and affirmed

Love—moments of interpersonal attunement with others in a safe and caring context—is the secret sauce of the Domus intervention. It’s the animating force behind Domus’ success with disengaged and disconnected youth.

When we show youth they are cared about, they feel seen and heard. This attunement both creates a positive emotional experience for youth and triggers the biological chain reaction that supports resilience and health. Robust research in the fields of physiology, neurology, biology, chemistry, and psychiatry has shown the scientific underpinnings of the healing power of love.

We think of love as an essential ingredient if we want our youth to realize positive long-term outcomes like self-sufficiency.

Belonging, mastery, independence, & generosity

Youth are full partners in our programming, not merely recipients of services. Using a strengths-based approach, we meet the four universal growth needs of all youth: belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity.

Positive Youth Development (PYD) is an intentional, pro-social approach that engages youth within their communities, schools, organizations, peer groups, and families in a productive and constructive manner. This approach views a young person as a tremendous resource, instead of a problem to be fixed.

When our interventions and programs reduce risks and strengthen a diverse set of protective factors, young people show more positive outcomes. The PYD approach has been used by human services organizations for decades, and there is significant evidence it improves youth social and emotional outcomes.

Provide a sense of safety & healing from stress

The impact of trauma on the lives of the youth we serve is undeniable. In 2010, Domus adopted the Sanctuary Model®, a trauma-responsive, evidence-supported approach to changing an organizational culture. We were the first organization in Connecticut to become Sanctuary-certified. The Sanctuary Model helps us understand the psychobiology of trauma: how the brain itself is physically changed by a traumatic event, and what we can do to help it heal.

100% of our staff are trained to utilize tools to help and support young people as well as our colleagues, understanding that organizations can experience trauma and can have systems in place that prevent healing or worsen trauma for youth or staff.

The impact of psychological and social traumatic experiences has guided our budget creation, our coaching and supervision, and much more for over a decade.

“The Domus staff is good at giving you motivation to do work and always making sure you can have a ride and food to eat. Great, caring program.”

Partner with Domus

We work closely with core community partners to bring programs to disengaged and disconnected youth, funded by both public grants and philanthropic donations. Learn how you can support our work, or explore ways Domus can help your organization serve young people.