I know what you’re thinking….well, no I don’t actually,… but I think it would be a pretty good guess that at the mention of mindfulness, people conjure up visions of robes, shaved heads, incense and chanting.
Yes, mindfulness has been practised in Eastern traditions for generations, but now there is an abundance of new scientific evidence that suggests that the practice of mindfulness has a really important part to play in health, mental health, relationships and focus at school and work. Psychologists and researchers have been working on ways we can apply mindful techniques to help people deal better with the troubles in their lives. Some of the research is even indicating significant changes in the brains of those who regularly practice mindfulness.
All of the fanciest qualifications in the world won’t help a client if you cannot develop a working relationship with them so that you can deliver what it is they really need from you.
You can walk into just about any community welfare of counselling space and see images of the Stage of Change model hung proudly on the walls – sometimes in multiple languages or in indigenous art in an attempt to make it more responsive to those who might be stuck. You probably know it off by heart – precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance. But sometimes the Stages of Change model just doesn’t seem to be working for you. It’s not enough. Indeed, sometimes, it’s just a reminder of how stuck you feel with a client.
The research on burnout among those who work with complex young people indicates strongly that it’s important to finish what we start in appropriate ways. We know that it’s not healthy for health service practitioners to leave things unsorted in our experience.
Here I explain why it’s so important for you (or your staff) to tie up loose ends after finishing work with a complex young person, and how this can be done so that you best serve their future as well as manage the impact on your own work life as a support worker.
Too often, treatment of complex young people (especially if it is contracted out) becomes isolated from the day-to-day management and ‘real life’ of the client. When treatment drifts away from its target and becomes fragmented across the agencies and individuals involved, client outcomes are affected, case managers lose touch and stakeholders may even do things for the client that are at odds with the treatment plan.
I send my ‘Dear Team Client’ emails to:
One of the many difficulties for support staff or carers assisting a complex young client is to establish, and then maintain, a healthy working relationship with them. Keeping a complex young person engaged is often very dependent on their relationship with support staff.In my experience, the efforts support staff put into building strong relationships with complex young people can sometimes fall flat. And in desperate attempts to help, some support staff may blur the relationship boundaries in dangerous ways.
Support staff usually enter the care field because they value warmth, like to help and want to make a difference. However if they expect warm and fuzzy feelings in their relationships with complex young people, they may experience a very long time between fuzzies and this can become problematic. Despite their best intentions and genuine care, when they come across a young person who doesn’t speak the same language of relationships, their care can be met with indifference. This is not because the young person is nasty, but because they have a history of relationships that tells them not to get close and to be cautious of shallow warmth and broken promises.