At the start of a term or 1/2 term it’s natural for me to reflect over the young people I have been working with. With this term in particular I find that I consider the significance of endings as well. The year 6 students will be moving on and because of this there is a natural cut off, ending and transition that we go through in our therapeutic relationship. This inevitably leads to some questions and most notably;
Have I made a difference in these young people’s lives.
Occasionally we can feel that the young people are making no movement or have no change occur in their lives because of our involvement. We can feel that the work that we are doing is having no impact and that the young person is moving on from our relationship without there being that moment of shift that we have perhaps been wishing for.
I am going to put aside the fact that I would have invested my time and the fact that we have built a relationship with them. I genuinely feel that this may have been the most valuable thing for that young person. The fact that I, as an adult, have given my time will speak volumes to a young person who has no adult who engages with them in that way.
However, I am wanting to reflect on the the aspect of change. Sometimes this is not visible, and this can be frustrating. In my years as a youth worker i had people often say to me that I was planting seeds in the lives of the young persons life and that’s one day that seed may develop to a plant that will thrive, and will only be there because I took time to cultivate the soil and plant the seed in the first place.
In my work now, counselling and mentoring I feel this analogy falls short in describing what I do. Even in the work with a young person where no perceivable change has taken place I know that we have explored what change might look like, what a world that is different might mean for them. With behavioural change or a change in thinking we would explore the outcomes of that change. In that way we are exploring what change may look like or mean for that young person.
In anything like this we can explore the difference but ultimately down to the young person to want to change and to be motivated to do so.
In this regard it can be like the young person is staring at a wall, unable to see through it to what may be on the other side. So we create windows for them to see through the wall, to see a different life. When a young person doesn’t want, or can not see themselves in that place we create windows into a different life that a young person cannot yet see but that they may grow to see through later in life.
This idea that they may need to develop, change or simply be older is important. When they are ready to see it they will know what we were talking about. They will recognise the future we discussed and may have the ability to choose to step into that new place, when they couldn’t before.
Don’t loose heart, dont be down, just keep investing, keep planting seeds, keep creating windows. The young people deserve it!