Reflection on Three Core CYC Perspectives

Introduction

Since its inception, Child and Youth Care (CYC) has built up an exceptional identity as a distinctive field of expert practice. Despite the fact that several allied professions have the main objective of promoting the wellbeing of humankind, CYC has set itself apart from other human service professions by focusing on children and youth by deploying relational, strengths-based and pluralistic approaches as well as active engagement with families, youth and children across varied settings (Jonsdottir, Litchfield, & Pharris, 2004). In the light of this, this paper discusses the three core perspectives associated with CYC practice, which include the relational, strengths-based, and pluralistic perspectives.

Relational CYC Practice

With regard to the relational perspective of the CYC work, Chutter (2009) asserts that it places emphasis on the development of a therapeutic context for children and youths in care. In addition, relational CYC practice emphasizes on the creation of a supportive learning environment for the expert caregivers. Empirical findings show that responsive care from expert caregivers is imperative in the ensuring that there is secure attachment relationships, particularly with regard to child and youth care. For instance, a study by Chutter (2009) involving maltreated children and foster children revealed that children under care are at an extremely a high risk of developing disruptive attachments to their foster mothers especially if the foster mothers do not exhibit nurturing and responsive behaviours. From these findings, Chutter (2009) infers that foster children are likely to develop poor emotional regulation and disruptive behaviours, which are likely to be interpreted as a form of rejection from the foster children by the foster parent or family. Jonsdottir, Litchfield, & Pharris (2004) emphasize that the perceptions upheld by foster parents that there is relational attachment between them and the foster children is a critical success factor for foster placement stability.

Malepo (2005) affirms that that, under the relational CYC practice, the relationships between the expert caregiver, and children and youths guarantees successful interventions, especially with children and youth who have faced extreme early relationship disruptions. According to Malepo (2005), secure relationship attachments among children and youth can be achieved by a care practice that takes into consideration the emotional volatility, disruptive behaviours and the developmental needs of children and youth. Empirical findings reveal that the attachment and relationship histories of CYC caregivers as well as their level of commitment towards the children and youth under care plays an integral in determining the quality of care. In this regard, Malepo (2005) asserts that the relationship histories of CYC workers and their capability regarding emotional interactions are essential facets of therapeutic care in the context of CYC.

McAllister (2003) explicates relational CYC practice as a process that involves professional partnership and focuses in an evolving dialogue between the CYC worker and the children and youths under care. According to Chutter (2009), this partnership ought to be non-directive, mutually responsive, caring and open. The CYC worker tackles that is of concern to children and youths with respect to their health predicaments.

Strengths-based Perspective of CYC

Strengths-based practice places emphasis on people’s strengths and draws on the assumption and belief that individuals have existing competencies that could be helpful in identifying and addressing their own concern (Clark, 1988). In the context of CYC, the strengths-based approach assumes that children and youths have distinctive strengths and capabilities that can be helpful in the care giving process. According to Clark (1988), strengths-based CYC practitioners should appreciate the strengths of children and youths. Perez, Peifer, & Newman (2002) provided the framework for enhancing the strengths-based approach in CYC, which includes building therapeutic relationships; identifying the strengths of children and youths; empowering patients; instilling and encouraging hope through listening; and reframing the life events of patients in order to identify their strengths. The effectiveness of the strengths-based approach can be enhanced by integrating the external and internal strengths of children and youths in their treatment plans. Perez, Peifer, & Newman (2002) assert that this plays an integral role in revealing their strengths and revealing other potential strengths such as community involvement, groups’ memberships. McAllister (2003) emphasizes that it is the role of CYC practitioners to take advantage of the promising environmental strengths and then integrate them in the treatment plans of children and youths.

According to Perez, Peifer, & Newman (2002), strengths-based interventions are not complex. Maintaining high levels of honesty with children and youths and incorporating then in their own treatment plans plays a vital role in building their trust as well as empowering them. In addition, Perez, Peifer, & Newman (2002) point out that, CYC practitioners can utilize active listening to assist children and youths in identifying their points of resiliency and strengths. Equally important in strengths-based CYC practice is to not only focus on the strengths of children and youths, but also focus on the team perspective in relation to their strengths. McAllister (2003) asserts that a reflective approach plays an instrumental role in promoting their self-awareness and encouraging responsive practice. In addition, a reflective approach also helps in combating the compassion fatigue among CYC practitioners while at the same time challenging and supporting them. Reflection entails a critical examination of the self, thoughts and actions, and how they affect CYC practice.

Pluralistic Perspective in CYC

With regard to pluralistic practice in CYC, Canales (2000) asserts that it is imperative for CYC practitioners to be aware of the increasing diversity observed in care giving contexts; therefore, CYC should embrace a pluralistic approach to meet the needs of multicultural child and youth patients. Garfat (2001) also points out that, CYC workers should recognize the existence of different worldviews by refraining from devaluing of individuals, reprehensible comparisons, stereotyping and generalizations during practice. According to Marshall (2009), the pluralist perspective can be observed through the actions of CYC practitioners, who are ethically bound to act as advocates for children and youths. In this regard, CYC workers should adhere to the established code of ethics governing CYC practice. Garfat (2001) points out that CYC code of ethics is the cornerstone for practitioner behaviour, and plays an integral role in creating a pluralistic moral approach.

The pluralistic perspective of CYC practice draws on the assumption and belief that there is no single view of reality of explanatory system can be used to account for all the concerns of patients. In this regard, when addressing the concerns of children and youth, it is imperative for CYC practitioners to adopt a multi-disciplinary approach such as integrating the pathological and sociological aspects to have an explicit understanding of the issues affecting children and youth (Canales, 2000). In addition, Canales (2000) points out that it is vital for CYC workers to have the capability to tolerate patients from several distinct cultural, religious, or ethnic groups. Another critical aspect of pluralistic CYC practice is that CYC workers should acknowledge the uniqueness of every person in order for CYC interventions to be effective. It is imperative to recognize that not all children and youth can receive the same treatment; this is because individuals respond differently to interventions.

Conclusion

This paper has discussed the three perspectives of CYC practice. From the discussion, it is evident that the relational model of CYC practice places emphasis on the relationship attachments between the CYC practitioners and patients, which should be non-directive, mutually responsive, caring and open. Strengths-based practice places emphasis on people’s strengths and draws on the assumption and belief that individuals have existing competencies that could be helpful in identifying and addressing their own concern. In the context of CYC, the strengths-based approach assumes that children and youths have distinctive strengths and capabilities that can be helpful in the care giving process. Regarding the pluralistic perspective of CYC practice, CYC workers should recognize the existence of different worldviews by refraining from devaluing of individuals, reprehensible comparisons, stereotyping and generalizations during practice.

References

Canales, M. K. (2000). Othering: Toward an understanding of difference. Advances in Nursing Science , 22 (4), 16-31.

Chutter, K. (2009). Healthy Relationships for Youth: A Youth Dating Violence Intervention . Journal of Relational Child & Youth Care Practice , 22 (4), 39-46.

Clark, M. (1988). Strength-based practice: The ABC‟s of working with adolescents who don‟t want to work with you. Federal Probation Quarterly , 62 (1), 46-53.

Garfat, T. (2001). Congruence between supervision and practice. Journal of Child and Youth Care , 15 (2), 3-5.

Jonsdottir, H., Litchfield, M., & Pharris, D. (2004). The relational core of nursing practice as partnership. The Journal of Advanced Nursing , 47 (3), 241-250.

Malepo, L. (2005). Community child and youth care work. Relational Child and Youth Care Practice , 18 (2).

Marshall, N. (2009). Professional Boundaries in Child and Youth Care Work. Journal of Relational Child & Youth Care Practice , 22 (4), 37.

McAllister, M. (2003). Doing practice differently: solution-focused nursing. Journal of Advanced Nursing , 41 (6), 528–535.

Perez, L., Peifer, K., & Newman, M. (2002). A strength-based and early relationship approach to infant mental health assessment. Community Mental Health Journal , 38 (5).

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