Jesuit Social Services
Working with Young People

Sometimes workers focus on the young person in isolation and regard the young person's family as the cause of all the young person's problems. Workers need to remember they are only involved with a young person for a small portion of their lives. More enduring connections with family should be explored and supported to optimise a young person's development.

Discussing Family

Some workers are willing to admit that talking about family with a young person may be tantamount to opening a "Pandora's Box". This help sheet, however, provides some ideas and guidelines that will help you initiate discussions with young people about their family.
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Improving Family Relations

Adolescence is often seen as a phase that marks a transition from dependence to independence from family. The reality is, however, that adolescence usually marks a move to a more mature "interdependence", where family relationships become more equal and reciprocal. Strong adult relationships that can ride the difficult times in adolescence are important for a young person's future health and wellbeing.
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Dealing with 'Black and White' Thinking

Parents and workers often expect young people to be able to think about things in the same way they do. However, many young people are not yet developed enough to think in complex ways about a range of issues. Immature cognition often leads to simple solutions to problems, and a lack of ability to see things from other people's perspectives.
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Reframing Feelings About Family

The way a young person perceives an experience or problem influences the options they feel they have for change. By presenting a young person with an alternative possible explanation, interpretation or perception of an experience, you may help them to consider other solutions. You may also be assisting them to identify and believe in their own or other family members' successes, skills, strengths and abilities.
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When Contact with Family is Harmful

Protective workers grapple everyday with having to weigh up the importance of connection with family and the level of risk that a young person may be exposed to within their family environment. Helping a young person think about and decide whether contact with a family member is likely to be beneficial or harmful, will involve exploring family relationship issues with the young person.
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"Martin didn't come home last night and I can't let go of the worry. I want to break the cycle but I don't know where to start
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