This week you will be introduced to Jason and his story. His story will continue to unfold as you move through CYC 100a and you will see how a CYC worker’s understanding about a young person evolves through relationship, how strengths-based approaches can define CYC practice, how interventions are informed by the person receiving services and evolve through different ages and how different people may have different but valuable roles to play in supporting the development of a young person.
Read the following story and highlight statements that reflect Jason’s challenges in one colour, and his strengths in another.
As this story illustrates, maintaining a strengths-based focus does not mean that we ignore challenges and problems. Instead, we undertake to understand the challenges that the people we care for and about face, while also looking for and working with the strengths and capacities that they have that may enable them to grow, develop and change in ways that are healthy and positive.
One of the challenges that we often face in CYC practice is that there is a tendency in our society (and particularly the media) to look for and highlight weaknesses, deficits and problems. Indeed, within the fields of psychology, medicine and social care there has been a primary historical orientation towards problems and deficits, with the role of the practitioner primarily being one of remediation or rehabilitation. CYC practitioners are often working in environments and programs where the focus is upon problems or diagnoses of deficits. For example, services for children who have been abused or neglected, programs for children with autism, youth corrections facilities, anger management programs, etc., all imply that they exist to address the challenges that young people face. How does one bring strengths-based approaches into environments that may be pre-disposed to focus more on problems? How do we achieve a balance of awareness about the true nature of the challenges (we can’t ignore that they exist), while also building on strengths as a means through which we can offset or overcome challenges?
Reflecting on Jason’s story, document your responses to the following questions in your learning notebook:
Summarize your responses to the questions above in 250-300 words, making an effort to integrate your responses with references to this week’s readings.
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