In this issue
Bring the phone in
Don’t forget your client’s virtual world, says Debbie Lee
Peter Jenkins asks if this would have prevented Daniel Pelka’s death
LGBT youth suicide and self-harm
Research among the young people themselves. Elizabeth McDermott reports
Countering the deficit view
Robert Birkbeck offers three ideas for work when young people are aggressive and disruptive
The wraparound service
Alison Hogg and Alison Smyth on providing holistic support to care leavers
Back to basics
Counselling skills are a powerful mediation tool when homelessness threatens, says Denise Alcock
Writing for CYP: some tips
Have you considered it? Would you do it? Here’s how to succeed
Same or different?
What extra training is really needed for work with young people? Mike Trier and Sue Lewis discuss
Reflecting on… being old enough
Thinking about… boundaries with young people
Considering… the importance of being alone
From the chair
Welcome from the editor
Sometimes Serendipity pays a visit. I’d been talking with a depressed client about the depressing blogs they read about depressed young people doing depressing things because they feel, like, depressed. So I went to have a look myself at their virtual life.
And on the very same day, I was offered the article by Debbie Lee that I’ve led off with in this issue. She writes about allowing and encouraging the young person to bring their smartphone into the room, and discusses what meaning it seems to have for them and how we can incorporate the phone’s importance into the therapy and make the virtual social media life of the client available for discussion and thought. It also acknowledges the urgent pinging, and rolls with their resistance to being separated from such a huge part of their life.
I commend this piece to you because it may well strike a chord and offer a new way of thinking. But may I also suggest that you brave the flood and visit one such website that I know young clients follow? Have a look at i-m-d-e-p-r-e-s-s-e-d1.tumblr. com, because I think the frequent images of trickling tears (male ones and female) sum up something helpless, the sort of gazing that has become inward, downward and backward, and almost addictive and trance-like in quality. Yet this is blogged by a young person who intends to help her online followers who suffer with anorexia, self-harm, negative thoughts and deep sadness (she answers messages). The blogger declares at the top of the screen that it is the place where she lets out bad thoughts but does ‘not promote self-harm or eating disorders’. Yet prominently displayed is her ‘last cut’ date and reblogged messages of despair (there’s a lot of reblogging of despair). This is the virtual world that my – and your – depressed clients may be frequenting daily. We need to be able to discuss it with them, as Debbie does. Imbibing daily negatives from other young people is a downward spiral. A bit like having foggy personal boundaries instead of a chain link fence (see Julie Fallon), and can result from an inability to be alone (see Nick Luxmoore). How can we enable our young people to change course without depriving them of their curiosity for information about life (see Jeanine Connor)?
Sometimes my client and I deal out playing cards in a pile, naming them with plus or minus numbers, to indicate the negative and positive inputs each day. Our brains intuitively know if the total implies ‘good day’ or ‘bad day’, but we don’t. So the best way to ensure a positive nightly tally is to deliberately insert many more positive than negative events. That way, we don’t need to rely on blogs or status updates for mental health.
Young people can readily learn this proactive skill if given a safe space to be honest, think openly and feel respected. Both Robert Birkbeck and Denise Alcock demonstrate how they do just that in their different work contexts. And I know we do, too, in our own. So if you think you could write about it, I’ve given some relevant tips in this issue and look forward to hearing from you. Of course, it won’t be Serendipity next time, because I’ve prompted you. But somehow it feels good to talk upfront about our needs instead of hiding them away along with our virtual selves.