Reflective Assignment #1
Kaitlin Van Maurik
Intensive In-Home Family Support
May 27th, 2019
Garfat (1998), describes being self-aware as a constant process, requiring that CYCs are open to checking in, paying attention to whats happening within, and what this might means. Garfat and Charles (2007), explain how it wasnt long ago self was used in a more superficial way, and more emphasis is now placed on self being an essential element. They say who am I? is paramount in CYCs reflecting on how theyre perceived, and what they might want to learn about themselves.
It took challenging situations to arise with clients to see where there was room for growth in my self-awareness so I could be truly present and engaged. Shaw (2019), discusses behviour and needs, and unlearning that needs to happen to understand behaviors serves a purpose, to meet a need. This is part of the essence of what we do, especially in treatment.
We need to continue to check in with ourselves so were not getting in our own way when supporting.
When we become self-aware were less likely to become defensive when given feedback around how were perceived. Garfat and Charles (2007), say knowing our blind spots are an important part of self-awareness used by effective CYCs. A better understanding of who we are and what impacts us increases the likelihood we can handle our blind spots in the moment. My team struggles at times to recognize how their use of self plays a huge part in the outcome of interventions we use.
I often reflect on how to improve my approach, and seek out feedback; considering what works/doesnt work, and understanding one approach doesnt work for all. In the past I would say I was sensitive in accepting feedback; improved understanding of who I am and what my intentions are allowed me to filter what I could improve upon. A challenge has been managing my physiological response when faced with aggression. Historically the flight/fight/freeze happened, making it challenging to attend to clients in the moment. Having completed counseling around this, Ive realized permitting this arousal to happen, and not attempting to fight it has taken the pressure off, and allowed it pass more quickly and easily, allowing me to be effective in my role.
My employer offers opportunities to support this journey: training around how to work with clients with many different mental health challenges; were utilizing a book called Treating Traumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents. One of the building blocks in the attachment section discusses Caregiver Affect Management. I have found many useful tools, such as taking a break from conflict, which I find can also easily translate when supporting caregivers with their own affect.
Garfat (1998), says CYCs bring self wherever they go, meaning they relate meaningful characteristics of themselves, which are useful in their work with youth. When were able to access our own feelings from our past experiences were better able to express genuine empathy with our youth. Kruger (1991), considers discovering, using and observing the self in the moment, meaning when were interacting with others on an emotional level, were actually experiencing ourselves.
I have found staff who make the most meaningful connections with clients are willing to be with them in the best and worst of times, without attempting to relate in a way that becomes all about them, without judgment, and maintaining an inherent positive regard, regardless of whats shared.
Some staff say they dont get personal with clients. Although I agree boundaries are necessary in establishing healthy, working relationships with clients, its sometimes essential to reflect on my own personal experiences to be able to relate to them. I do think its important to keep in mind we sometimes walk a fine line between identifying and over identifying. For instance, I wouldnt become more emotional than my clients when theyre upset about something.
When Im trying to manage many responsibilities, it can be more challenging to bring my self in every moment. I work with an effective team; we support each other, knowing we all have good days and days when were not as on, and its not always possible to leave it at the door. When Im on Im able to easily empathize with my clients. Ive improved in assessing when my clients are seeking collaboration to find solutions, and when they just need to be heard. A challenge for me is to try not to align myself more with my clients than their primary caregivers, regardless of their resistance in the treatment process.
Dimotof (2000), describes resistance as being a natural response when change happens, and that its important for CYCs to become more creative in working with it instead if against it. I can appreciate this lens, and I plan to take this into my current work with a resistant family. I think the essence of this section in the article is about not giving when it becomes challenging.
Change occurs for a reason, and effective CYCs have an ability to see how and why this happens; possibly due to, rewards and punishments, external incentive, or maybe because the youth has bottomed out. We should consider why we think change occurs and what our idea of change is (Garfat, 1998).
Were constantly reflecting upon this at work. For example, a client who was self-harming suddenly stopped. We could assume the reason is positive, however, were aware C.A.S. visited her family regarding an allegation she made against her parents. Is she afraid of being removed from home and doesnt want to do anything that will bring negative attention her way? Are the harm reduction strategies working? She struggles with expressing this with us. Phlean (2001), discusses his interactions with Bennys father reading. If he hadnt approached his father he mightve assumed why Benny wasnt reading at his age. Sensitively challenging his fathers viewpoint made all the difference. He didnt tell his father what to think, which might not have been sustainable.
Garfat (2007), discusses how we view the role of the family, and how its changed immensely throughout the last few decades. He talks about primary caregivers being seen as impacted by the larger system and as individuals who have needs within the family unit. I think my workplace has a ways to go in terms of how we work with families. I realize were still used to viewing the youth as the client, and see the primary caregivers as often being the direct cause for their childrens issues.
Residential is where the honeymoon ends and real work begins. Clients eventually show us who they really are; a gift were given to learn about and support them. Seeing the big picture, I recognize challenges are part of the process, and use strengths, where possible, to help them overcome them. A challenge is to assess when change should occur; just because it might seem maladaptive, its still important to assess whether or not it should be changed since its meeting a need. Maybe all that needs to change is the concerning behaviour, while keeping at the forefront the true need to be met.
Ill advocate that residential staff be part of sessions with the families and social workers so we can establish and maintain a better understanding of family roles.
Dimotof, L (2000). Values and attitudes in family work.
Garfat, T. (1998). The Effective Child and Youth Care Intervention. Published by the Journal of
Child and Youth Care, as Vol. 12 (1 & 2), 1 – 122.
Garfat, T. (2007). A short history of CYC Involvement with Families.
Garfat, T., & Charles, G. (2007). Self in Child and Youth Care Practice.
Krueger, M. (1991). Central themes in Child and Youth Care. Journal of Child and Youth
Care, 5(1), 77-88.
Phelan, J. (2001). My introduction to family systems theory.
Shaw, K. (2019). Lesson 3. Behaviour and Needs. Retrieved from Lesson Notes.