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Technological barriers in the therapeutic relationship?

2015

Hello,

My journey in Child and Youth Care Counselling thus far has been within the setting of residential care. In one program it is a community setting where the youth are permitted to have access to technology and internet and the other program is a confined setting where the youth have zero access to any type of technology outside of cable TV and the radio.

Since starting in a program where there is little to no technological barriers I have become very aware of the role that technology plays in preventing us from forming an effective therapeutic relationship with at risk youth. Personally I have tried to incorporate some strategies to try and remove the barrier that technology seems to be creating. However it has more often than not resulted in the youth preferring to zone out in their cell phone screen rather than spending time with myself or other staff. It has come to the point that even when a youth is in distress they resort to texting the program phone rather taking advantage of face to face contact with the counsellors.

My question is: what strategies are other individuals in this field using to overcome the barrier that technology can create?

Jessica Lindenaar
...

Hello Jessica,

I think you raise an important question - how do we, as helpers, incorporate the world of e-communications into our work? And, equally important is the question 'how do we become as relevant?'

Thom Garfat
...

Jessica,

What a great question!

I recently heard that technology is creating an age of "always on" and not just youth. As an individual who has minimal skill set with technological gadgetry the challenge to develop relationships with youth was impacted. The youth were texting in to the CYC office, instead of speaking directly to a CYC worker, when choosing not to return to the facility. The opportunity to provide support or harm reduction strategies agreed upon in a developmental plan dual denied. To hear their voice to gage their level of awareness.

As individuals we need to monitor self and put boundaries in place not only for our own well being but as role models. Technology is not going anywhere.

Interested in hearing the approach various programs are trying.

Be well.

Charlene Pickrem
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