While we are taught to not react personally to
situations we are involved with, what are some “internal dialogue” that we
can utilize to take ourselves away from the situation and avoid reacting
Hi Kate, the idea is to respond not react.
This is a complex in the moment assessment of others, self and context leading to a considered action followed by reflection on how the intervention went. Part of the intervention asks you to tune into your own feelings in the moment and also any context from your own personal history that may influence your action.
Can I suggest that you look at the work of Adrian Ward
'Opportunity Led' approaches.
Hi Kate, there are a number of strategies and processes that will help you build a response rather than reactive approach.
Debbie Carver wrote a piece for CYC-Online in April 2011 entitled "This is what you do to little girls? Rational Detachment in Youth Care". You might find that interesting and helpful.
I try to remember that it is not really me that they are truly mad at. I also remember that if I react instead of act I am giving them the reaction they were looking for. I save emotion for when things are going well.
My name is Megan and I am currently in my second year of the child and youth care counselling diploma at Mount Royal University in Calgary, AB. I have been doing my full year practicum in a residential treatment facility that focuses on reintegrating youth back into the community and helping them to adjust from a confined and intrusive setting to a less intrusive and open setting. Since this is my first real experience working with vulnerable children and youth, I have been focusing lately on how to control my reactions, as it is very difficult at some times. By talking with my colleagues, I have concluded that sometimes it isn't a bad thing to show a personal reaction to a client. I have a client that has had a very difficult past month, and she actually appreciated that I reacted by showing some of my emotions because it made her feel validated. Although showing personal reaction at this time was appropriate, it is not always a good idea to react personally.
As a person working with vulnerable children and youth, one of the most important aspects of working in this field is to be self-aware. Child and youth counsellors must know their own triggers and must set boundaries and expectations with the youth they are working with. It is important to be self-aware so that you do not unknowingly push your beliefs on your clients or colleagues. Being self-aware will also help you to predict what kind of situations would cause you to have strong reactions. Some individuals may react strongly when hearing about abuse or neglect, whereas other individuals may personally react when a client is swearing or refusing to eat. Every person has different triggers, and being aware of those triggers will help a person to control their personal reactions.
In this field of work, having emotional supports is also important because "work with youth and families triggers many emotions that need to be vented regularly, individually, with a colleague or supervisor, and collectively as a team" (Maas & Ney, 2005). Emotional supports can help to validate your reactions to situations, and will help to prevent burnout.
Personally, before I react to a situation, I try to ask myself what the most beneficial reaction to the situation may be. This can be determined by knowing the conflict cycle. According to the conflict cycle, there are reactions that will help a situation, but there are also reactions that will make a situation worse. It should always be the goal of the child and youth counsellor to end the conflict cycle so that the client and counsellor can work together to debrief on what happened. I also find it helpful before I react to ask myself "why am I going to react like this?"
If I determine that my reaction is caused by a personal bias, I will re-evaluate and try to react in a way that holds no biases.
Clearly, it is my belief that self-awareness could help you from personally reacting to every situation. I hope that this has helped you in some way.
Maas, K., and Ney, D. (2005). Consultation as a complement to the clinical supervision of youth care. Retrieved from http://www.cyc-net.org/cyc-online/cycol-0605-maasney.html
I think the concept of responding as opposed to
merely reacting in Child and Youth Care work is crucial to the entire process. One framework
that I have found useful is the Cornell TCI "4 Silent Questions" approach:
1. What am I feeling now?
2. What does this young person feel, want or need?
3. How is the environment impacting the situation?
4. How can I best respond?
I once taught a course at a Community College on Crisis Intervention and felt so strongly about the value of this framework that analyzing this was a 10 page mid-term. The beauty of it is if you do the first three the fourth will have to happen as a result
Piermont, New York
This is so Restorative...and we always need to start
I like this.
My name is Ashley Kernick and I am currently finishing my second year of the Child and Youth Care Counselling Diploma Program at Mount Royal University in Calgary Alberta. I am currently doing my practicum at a residential program for pregnant and parenting teens. At times I think everyone in this field of work, finds themselves in a situation where they are dealing with a difficult child or youth. These situations may result in the inability to control their own personal emotions. Long (1991) stated that, "The aggressive student has never learned to tolerate normal amounts of frustration, disappointment or anxiety. Instead of owning these feelings, he gives them away by attacking or depreciating everyone in sight" (p.47). As professionals working with vulnerable children and youth I believe the most important thing in these situations is to positively respond and not react to the behaviours. We have to remember that in most cases aggressive behaviours are a result of many different feelings and may be the only way in which the child or youth knows how to react. If we respond to these situations in a negative way (yelling and screaming) the child or youth will become more stressed and therefore a power struggle will occur. The client and the worker will continue to act in the same manner and the conflict will intensify and a positive outcome will not be reached.
Another important factor in working with children and youth is being self-aware and knowing what your own personal beliefs and values are. When a particular conflict arises and we as counsellors don't respond in a positive way, it is important for us to realize why we had that response. Every individual has certain triggers that will impact the way in which they deal with specific situations such as, anorexia, substance abuse or neglect. Long (1991) found that, "The need to understand the relationship between our history and our perception of a current conflict with select students is not easy, but it is essential to our role and function as a therapeutic helper" (p.46). By being conscious of these personal triggers you will be able to control your emotions and reactions, as well set boundaries with the children and youth that you are working with.
Long, Nicholas, J. (1991). What Fritz Redl Taught Me About Aggression:
Residential Treatment for Children & Youth. Haworth Press,