I haven’t posted for quite some time. I am now almost at the end of my placement; about 10 days left. I’ve just finished my portfolio, got my last exam this week and then it’s preparing for my first job alongside dissertation writing.
It’s been a pretty intense time and I’m glad to be making the transition shortly to paid employment! Its also satisfying to know that I gained interviews at all bar one of the other Local Authorities I applied to before I knew this job was confirmed. It’s reassuring because the role I am starting was a bursary process, so it was not quite the standard recruitment process, and it’s valuable to at least know my applications were in the right direction!
This placement has been such a huge learning curve and I can’t pretend that self doubt hasn’t reared its ugly head at times. I absolutely love the role and working with young people in general, but sometimes it’s hard not to focus on the responsibility you hold for the decisions you make and worry that you didn’t act as well as you could have done. However, I like to think that’s all part of reflecting and considering how you can handle things better next time.
One recent example was a teenager I have been working with since the beginning of placement and who I will continue to work with in my new role. I have built up a really great relationship with this young person, although recently have become concerned that they might become slightly dependent on me and I have sought advice from our resident psychotherapist as to how I can support the YP to build more effective relationships with their foster carer and other key figures who can support them on a more regular basis, between my visits.
The young person has told me how much they trust me and that they’ve told me things that they haven’t felt able to tell anyone else. In some ways, this is good and a sign of a positive relationship but it obviously has drawbacks and it was the dynamic at their recent PEP (personal educational plan) meeting that this was most noticeably seen. I chaired the meeting and had to discuss a range of factors in the young person’s educational life- including recent poor behaviour. I tried to involve the YP in the meeting as much as possible, asking their views and their thoughts on possible goals. However, at the next visit the YP told me that they had called me two faced later that day and had not enjoyed the meeting. The YP said that they could now see I was actually trying to help and that they had gone to all their classes that day in line with what I had suggested during the meeting and apologised for the names they had called me behind my back. I wasn’t worried about the names, but I was worried about the YP’s feelings and thought about this for a long time, trying to work out if I had handled the meeting badly or if there was a reason that they might feel unhappy about it, as they had found it difficult to explain to me when asked.
One of the insights I had was that the young person had become used to our relationship as a 1:1 trusted relationship and I had not successfully prepared them enough or managed their expectations as to how the PEP would go – what we might discuss, that I would be sharing some views with other professionals, which is something that the YP is not used to hearing me do and in turn felt as if I was being two faced. Even though the YP had changed their mind by my visit the next day and already told me that they realised I had tried to help, it did knock me back as I feel that this is something many young people talk about – going to meetings and hearing professionals talk about them and make assumptions without considering their view, and it was quite disheartening to think that I might have fallen into the same box. In honesty, I’m still trying to separate out the aspect that was my mistake, alongside appreciating that I won’t always agree with what my young person says and they might get angry sometimes, even if the situation could not have been prevented, in the same way a teen says ‘I hate you’ to their parent for a punishment that may well be fair. I felt the most important part was having the conversation with the YP and making it clear that I felt it was really important to acknowledge and discuss how they felt in the meeting so that we could improve it next time.
Anyway…! I have a week of farewell visits as I’m only keeping one case as I move across to my new team.
I am a mixture of excited and apprehensive about moving teams, getting new cases and the quantity of cases and support I will receive but I am looking forward to the challenge of getting to know more young people and building up new relationships!