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Selected Readarounds in Child and Youth Care

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Self-awareness model for training and application in Child and Youth Care

Frances Ricks

It is necessary to make a distinction between self-awareness and “being” aware. Self-awareness models and definitions have tended to propose self-awareness as primarily, if not solely a cognitive process during which one accesses accurate, complete, reliable and accessible, self-relevant information. Such information is usually about one’s beliefs and values, one’s goals and aspirations, one’s perceived characteristics, and one’s impact on others. The nature of such a process is one that allows explanation, justification, even evaluation of self. However, it seems a more desirable state or enduring dispositional trait to be able to show up, to be present, or to function in knowing all that makes a person be what they are being at any point in time. Being aware as a state is to act in knowing what is; to be present in that knowing, and taking that presence into action. This kind of “being” aware or being in a state of awareness allows for the kind of presence in life that perhaps few comprehend, never mind experience, When one is “being” aware there is a multi-level knowing that captures one’s perception of the reality underlying the phenomena and conditions of the time. This heightened perceptivity allows for a presence of self that enhances any kind of relationship.

It is this kind of awareness, a way to be, not a post hoc analytical cognitive analysis, that is desirable in the Child and Youth Care therapeutic relationship. Because Child and Youth Care practitioners work with people daily, their jobs require them to know where the client is and what is happening for the client in their present context. To know about the client requires being aware of self since the client only exists out of one’s self experience of the other person. Therefore when one is not “being” aware of oneself one is not being there for the client. Put another way, the presence of self and action of self comes into operation only when one’s attention is turned inward, and until or unless that happens, there is no self to be present; when there is no self present there is no other present either!

It is necessary to appreciate that when speaking of “being” aware it is multilevel, multi-faceted, and interactional. Because of our mental faculties and processes one may only focus or speak on one dimension at a time but our processes are systemic and work for us systemically. For example, when one sees one does not stop hearing; when one tastes one does not stop seeing. We can process many things at once and therefore know many things simultaneously as well as accumulatively. In the realm of being aware it means that one can experience and be aware of different feelings, numerous thoughts, and set of actions at the same time.

Ricks, F. (1989) Self-awareness model for training and application in Child and Youth Care. Journal of Child and Youth Care, Vol.4 No.1, pp.33-41

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