Our Role: In times, we control the backstage

Hello Frontliners,

Happy September- Exciting month for Teachers, Educators, Support staff, and Child and Youth Care Practitioners to start a new school year.

I had a recent discussion with a co-worker earlier this week about therapeutic relationship. There was a situation where a young person was determined to need extra support and was referred to a support worker. However, it was evident that the young person did not feel a connection with this particular support person. Now, if we were down in the south (the cities and areas with more access and frontliners per square km haha) then the answer I would have said is “That is fine, maybe we can discover more options for this young person.” Since we are in the North, resource and support people are quite limited.

Clearly, we cannot fire the support person because there is no present moment connection with the young person. Clearly, we cannot stop support and tell the young person to “deal with their problems.” So, what do you do as a frontline?

Do you remove yourself?

Do you just hope to hell that the community will take over and care of this young person?

Do you pawn all your responsibilities on an external community partner?

There is an assumption that all frontliners that work with young people have this magical power to connect with every young person they ever work with. Although, as a profession we carry certain character traits that make young people have an easier time to approach us, we cannot assume that the young person will “like us” or “trust us.” Part of relationship building (similar to many other frontliners), relational care is a process. We are not entitled to have the young person’s trust or respect, we are privileged once we do make that connection.

Going back to the situation. Direct care is a wraparound service. We might try different contexts to connect with the young person, but the reality is it might not work. So, the question we need to propose is: Who is the individual? teacher, extended family member, another peer that is able to have that connection? and what is their need? Once we investigate these questions, then we begin to form wraparound services. We might be the ones not directly doing one to one but we control the backstage- we might do the investigation, coordinate meetings with different parties, or monitor/follow-up on their progress.

Nonetheless, we are always present! We are still part of the young person’s support network.  We just need to find more creative and flexible ways to engage in the therapeutic process.

Thanks for reading! Have a great long weekend 🙂

Marleigh

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