Time and gain I am reminded of the importance of relationships.

Recently I had the opportunity to watch the movie Paper Tigers with my staff. This movie brings to life a trauma informed approach with youth, and reminded me of the significant role and responsibility we have to the youth for whom we provide services. When we meet the young people we serve, they are walking in our doors with a lifetime of complex trauma. Brain science has proven that this trauma truly changes the structure and makeup of their brains. The good news in all of this is that so much of this damage can be reversed. Youth who have experienced trauma heal both their heart and their brain within the context of relationships.

This means that every time we are consistent, reliable, positive, respectful, nonjudgmental, and loving, we are providing youth the opportunity to heal. This also means that we are responsible to keep our hearts in our work. We can never see ourselves as just a social worker, therapist, case manager, or counselor.

We also have to remember that the thing that might be the most important part of the work we do is that we are also human beings. Human beings with our own feelings and hearts--and when we allow these to be a part of the work that we do, we connect with young people in true relationships and open up an opportunity for healing. Think about how amazing that is. When we show up and we believe that a young person has value and worth and we treat them as such, their brains are literally reshaping and rewiring to understand a world in which safety exists.

So, when we are learning this work and we are training others to be part of it, as important as it is to have professional boundaries and to understand our roles, it is just as important to know how to truly be in it with our whole hearts. Along with perfecting professionalism we also have to focus on perfecting how to show up for youth with love every day.

About the Author...

EKleftside-street Webfade

I’m Erin, and I’ve used my 15+ years of human services experience working to understand youth who are on the fringes as an attempt to create services that have the potential to change their life trajectory. I get out of bed each morning with a renewed sense of purpose, and I go off to work to play my part. I believe that if we each do our small part, that collectively we have the potential to change the big picture.

To me, this is more than a job; it’s a journey, a mission, a calling, and an honor.

I don’t believe that I have all the answers, but with some regular meditation, a solid support network, and a commitment to this work--no matter how hard it gets, I believe that much can be accomplished.

I invite you along on this journey. Share what you have learned, what keeps you going, and what makes you crazy. None of us are in this world alone and I am grateful that we can walk beside each other even if only for a few moments.

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