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Transcripts of Selected Group Discussions on CYC-Net

Since it's founding in 1997, the CYC-Net discussion group has been asked thousands of questions. These questions often generate many replies from people in all spheres of the Child and Youth Care profession and contain personal experiences, viewpoints, as well as recommended resources.

Below are some of the threads of discussions on varying Child and Youth Care related topics.

Questions and Responses have been reproduced verbatim.

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Positive Critical Incidents?


My name is Courtenay, and I am in my second year of the Child and Youth Care Counselling program at Mount Royal University. I am completing my practicum with a program that treats 13-17 year old youth, with a history of self harm and mental illness.

In class, we have had some discussions about Critical Incident (CI) forms, and when and how to fill them out, but I had not put it into practice until this year. At my practicum, I have helped fill out CI’s for a variety of reasons; however, something I find very interesting about my program, is that we document positive critical incidents as well.

When a youth engages in an atypical behaviour that shows growth and progress in their treatment, we document it in the same way we would a CI. We then give special recognition to the youth, and engage in a life space interview, so they can reflect on their positive behaviour.

I had never heard of this before joining my program, so it made me curious if it is widely used? I think it has a positive effect on the youth because it helps them develop skills to use in the future; but, it also helps the practitioner because we can find patterns of behaviour and develop effective treatment for the youth.

What are other people’s experiences or opinions about positive CI’s? I look forward to hearing your stories.


Courtenay B.

Dear Courtenay,

So encouraged to hear about this. Perhaps Critical Positive Incident would be more proper, but the notion of applying collective energy to both negative and positive aspects is brilliant. We used to do this informally in staff meetings taking a moment out to note the positives. It would be interesting to see if making things explicit made things more positive.


Garth Goodwin


Thank-you for posting this. I am very interested in hearing more about your positive critical incident program. Perhaps you could answer some questions for me. What is the criteria for filling out the report, eg. what are some examples of what qualifies as incidents to get a report filled out? Is there a form that makes it easy for teachers to buy into it? I work in a school so I don't want the staff to think that it just another thing for them to do. Any information that you could provide me would be great! We do have student appreciation ribbons, but it seem that are given out for things that are not really over and above what children should do.

Thanks for your great idea!

Clayton Ellis

I think the concept of positive critical incidents or positive incident reports comes from a well-meaning place – that is, helping both youth and, perhaps more importantly, staff learn to see strengths and progress rather than just challenges. This is critical for youth and staff to develop healthy conceptions of young people and what they can accomplish. It is also helpful in that it documents strengths and growth. In this field, it is not uncommon for the only thing documented about a youth to be a laundry list of all the challenging behaviors they’ve ever displayed.

However, I tend to be a bit particular about language because I think the words we use impact how we think about youth and how we do our work. To me, the term “positive incident report” seems to imply that all other incident reports are negative. I think this is dangerous footing, as judging behaviors as “good” or “bad” misses the point that we engage in behaviors in order to meet our needs. Even challenging youth behaviors, which we frequently label as or imply to be “bad” or “negative,” are occurring for very good reasons (even if we may not understand what they are).

I do think the recognition and reflection pieces are spot-on, though, and documentation of such occurrences should be a high priority. But when I hear about these sorts of procedures, I always wonder if there’s a way to place such an emphasis on strengths and growth without it feeling so “institutional,” for lack of a better word. The idea of an “incident report” for doing something well strikes me as somewhat impersonal.

So all of that to say, I think the concept provides a nice balance against our critical incident documentation procedures. But I think there may be value in reframing how we think about critical incidents and what language we use when describing this type of procedure.

Just my thoughts. Would be curious to hear your reaction.

Seth Osborn

Hi Courtenay,

What a spectacular intervention that focuses on positive acknowledgement, growth and direction not only for the team but youth. I have never heard of this approach being used. I believe that this would help the culture of a team become strength focused. What a great experience for you to have been a part of during your placement. You have shared it with all of us and you will have the option to introduce the approach in other teams you become a part of.

Be well.

Hi All,

My view is that the issue of recording critical incidents should be treated as writing your own journal, focusing on important incidents. Any incident that we would one day want to refer back to can be recorded as a critical incident, especially if it is an indication of important change or transition in the life of the Child or Youth. Youth should also be encouraged to record important incidents that they may want to refer to one day, showing where they come from.

Mosa Moremi

Hello Folks,

I have never ever heard of the term PCI reports. However, generally documentation of critical incidents implies on undesired behaviours or unexpected incidents.

Having said that, there is what is called "progress report" form to be filled out for amazing behaviour or an advancement, thus helps to document, share and update anticipated or quoted positive deeds. However, I guess this is mostly used in group home setting.

Thanks for sharing your new find.

Ade Adejobi

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