The evolution of Care, Welfare, Safety, and SecuritySM and how it became a mantra for AlGene Caraulia Sr., one of CPI’s founders
Care, Welfare, Safety, and SecuritySM: as a statement of CPI's core values and identity, it speaks to the best in us. But how did such lofty ideals evolve from a training program initially designed to teach mental health workers how to remain safe from physical harm at the hands of their patients?
To learn the story, we recently spoke with AlGene Caraulia Sr., who together with Gene J. Wyka (father) and Gene T. Wyka (son) cofounded CPI back in the early 80's. To bring the story full circle and back to the present day, we also invited AlGene P. Caraulia Jr., currently a vice president of CPI, to join in the conversation.
As AlGene Sr. tells the story, it was the cumulative effect of four memorable episodes that led him to develop what he terms CPI’s mantra. AlGene’s backstory is also critical to an understanding of how what would become CPI training was conceived and constructed.
Although CPI champions hands-off, least restrictive environments, it’s essential to include the influence of AlGene’s expertise in the martial arts (judo and aikido, specifically—it’s pertinent to note here that aikido is sometimes described as a martial art that focuses on harmonizing with your opponent to bring peaceful resolutions to situations involving conflict) to tell the story of the development of the training program. AlGene began studying the martial arts in 1954, after a playground scuffle left him with a bruised shoulder.
In 1958, AlGene left Hawaii and traveled extensively across the United States. After settling in northern Michigan, he earned a degree in Communication Psychology from Northern Michigan University. During the summers, he taught karate at the Chicago Karate Center, and it is there where he met Gene J. Wyka, with whom he would later go on to found CPI.
After completing his studies at NMU, AlGene Sr. moved to Cleveland, where he volunteered for mental health programs through city social services at Cleveland University Hospital's psychiatric facility. It was there that the first of the four episodes occurred.
How CPI’s bedrock values came into place
AlGene Sr. prefaces the recounting of these episodes with a philosophical thought: “Well, Care, Welfare, Safety, and SecuritySM is now a bedrock, but like all bedrocks, it actually is like a cable that has many different strands to make it as powerful as it is.” (3:26)
He then goes on to describe the four events that culminated in the creative breakthrough that led to the identification of CPI’s core values: “Actually, there were four reasons that the program was written to develop that care and welfare. And these reasons may not seem very reasonable until you see how they got together.
The first was that I used to volunteer into mental health programs for the social services here in Cleveland. And one of the things that would always bother me is that I used to play guitar and sing, and there was one person who always looked like he was bubbling around and excessively applauding. One day I asked the caretakers, ‘What's wrong with Jonas?’ They said, ‘We have to medicate him because sometimes he gets violent, even though he sings along as we do that.’” (3:45)
“The second instance is that in the years that I used to have as my boss [my teacher] at the judo and karate school, we used to have these great parties. At these parties there was a family member who was married to my teacher's daughter, and he would get very violent. At one party, I saw him get so violent that my judo teacher actually had to throw him down, but it wasn't one of those hurtful throws. He had the ability to do that. He held that person down while the party was going on like nothing was happening, because everybody was used to Tony. But my teacher was patting Tony on the head and saying, ‘Calm down,’ and after a time, he just calmed down,” says AlGene. (4:42)
“So the third thing is that there was a therapist at a hospital teaching self-defense techniques to some of the staff. One day I asked him, ‘What happens when these persons get crazy?’ Because one of the things that he was teaching the staff was self-defense techniques. And then he says, ‘We have to wrestle that sucker down, give him some Thorazine, and turn him into mashed potatoes.’” (5:44)
The cumulative effect of those experiences brought AlGene to an important realization. He explains, “Now, all those things occurred to me when I was hired by the Cleveland University Hospital's psychiatric facility. As I was teaching staff how to protect themselves, all of a sudden it occurred to me that I was teaching them something that was incorrect. I was not teaching them what was the essential core of what they were doing as mental health personnel.
So therefore, I remembered clearly one day when I asked [a staff member], ‘Why do you put your hands in that position when the person is attacking you?’ And the person gave me the stock answer, ‘Well, that's because you wanna block and blah, blah, blah.’ I said, ‘No. It's care and welfare, safety and security.’
It eventually got to the point where it made sense to me that they were not there to learn how to defend themselves. They were there for the care and welfare and safety and security of the person in their care. So essentially, that's the way that Care, Welfare, Safety, and SecuritySM actually evolved. That's what I call the mantra. Once that occurred to me, it was clear to me that we were not there to teach staff any violent methods,” says AlGene. (7:02)
The pertinence of Care, Welfare, Safety, and SecuritySM today
Following his father’s description of the experiences that first culminated in the epiphany of his mantra and the purpose of his method, I asked AlGene Jr. how those values are pertinent today. His response reflects his own thoughtfulness and mindfulness as he considers his father’s words: “Well, I think that, you know, as I hear—I’m hearing this story again, it's gratifying to know that that mantra my father has just referred to continues on. I think it's so important for us as professionals, as an organization, to have a focal point, you know, a point of reference for all the things that we do. It's easy to say that, you know, we're here for someone, or we're here to take care of someone. I mean I don't know anyone who gets into healthcare or into human service work for any other reason than they really have a genuine desire or need to take care of another individual.” (10:38)
The CPI Instructor Conference and its influence on CPI as a family group
Another important topic of discussion during my conversation with AlGene Sr. and Jr. is the history and importance of the CPI Instructor Conference.
Back before CPI hosted its first Instructor Conference, there was a running debate between AlGene Sr. and his partners about the benefits of holding such an event. According to AlGene, the fiscal aspects of a conference were foremost in his partners’ minds, but he convinced them that the importance of a conference would be the sense of family and identification that participants would experience: “I have a family and I love; I know I'm of a family. But if you don't have that family, there's not that one connectedness of being together. So I still recall having about a two-year debate over having these conferences . . . . But what was very powerful, especially in the first one, and what brought the rest of my group, my management group, into understanding the conference, was the fact that the people left there with such a great feeling that all of a sudden we became CPI, rather than, you know, I just trained in [the] Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® [program].
CPI was now the family group that happened. So that conference is not only just to make money, but it is essentially the only way that you can design an organism or organization. It's a powerful way of saying, ‘Hey, you are from England and I'm from California and, you know, we're family.’” (39:20)
Finally, AlGene Sr. joins CPI’s mantra with the purpose of the Instructor Conference: “The thing that really matters is to design it [CPI’s Instructor Conference] so that you develop that connectedness with the mission of the program which is the Care, Welfare, Safety, and SecuritySM.” (41:30)
When asked to talk about his most important work at the moment, AlGene Jr. cites CPI’s Instructor Conference. AlGene jokes that if he doesn’t receive two invitations to various conferences in his email each day, it means his computer is turned off. Yet despite the fact that many look interesting to him, he also notes that they tend to feel too task-oriented, and in that design, somewhat hollow.
In contrast, AlGene Jr. closely echoed his father’s sentiments about the purpose and effect of CPI’s Instructor Conference: “Conference has from the beginning been a very important element of what we do at CPI, because not only do we give more information, deep and broadening information and knowledge for the Certified Instructors, it's unique in that it also is reflective of the culture of CPI. Let's go back to the mantra of Care, Welfare, Safety, and SecuritySM. We have more than 32,000 Certified Instructors around the world who have raised their hand and said, ‘Yes, I believe in that.’ And that's, you know, what I'm dedicating the training to.” (36:30)
Listen to the podcast
Listen to the interview to learn more about AlGene Sr. and Jr.’s thoughts on the development of CPI’s Crisis Development ModelSM, AlGene Jr.’s experience working in a maximum security environment housing 1,800 captive clients, whether CPI training is an art or a science, and more!
AlGene Caraulia Sr.
AlGene Caraulia Sr. was born on the island of Oahu in 1940. In 1954, he began studying judo and aikido after a playground fight left him with a bruised shoulder. Interest and expertise in the martial arts became a prominent part of his life from that point forward.
In 1958, he departed from the University of Hawaii and traveled extensively across the United States. He received a degree in Communication Psychology from Northern Michigan University.
In 1963, the USKA promoted the first world karate championship tournament and AlGene entered as a competitor. Although he was a brown belt at the time, he went on to defeat a third-degree black belt to become the grand champion of the tournament. It was the first of many titles. And by 1971, AlGene formed the Karate Institute of America in an effort to promote and maintain quality in the martial arts.
In 1980, AlGene founded the Crisis Prevention Institute and began teaching and lecturing around the world.
AlGene Caraulia Jr.
AlGene Caraulia Junior is a vice president at the Crisis Prevention Institute, and in his role, AlGene provides expertise in Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training through program design, facilitation, and implementation. He also oversees operational activities including management and development of CPI's Global Professional Managers and Instructors, the team who crisscross the country and circle the globe facilitating CPI training.
AlGene also has experience supporting adolescents with varying developmental disabilities and has served in various roles in juvenile and adult corrections. He earned his MBA from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, holds a Senior Professional in Human Resources® accreditation from the Society for Human Resource Management, and is a fellow candidate at American College of Healthcare Executives. He lives in Pewaukee, Wisconsin with his wife, Annette, and has four children and one grandson.