In this issue
Digital futures (free article)
Louis Weinstock discusses the effects of the digital revolution on children’s wellbeing
The importance of romantic relationships in teenage development. By Laura McDonald
Jim Pye examines separation and stuckness in adolescent lives
Navigating a different world
Carrie Ballard describes her work with high-functioning young people with ASD
The mess and the metaphor
Bridget Sheehan’s own model of routes through play therapy
Notebook: working with sexual abuse
Some suggested ways to proceed. By Lorraine Sherman
Overview of the research evidence… …for counselling CYP in the UK
Jo Pybis and Charlie Jackson report
BACP’s Ask Kathleen service
Kathleen Daymond describes help available for clients
Make time for marketing
Checklists for school or private work – let people know what you do, says Ruth Clowes
‘I just don’t need it’
Lindsay George researches young people’s attitudes to help-seeking
Reflecting on… mundanity
Thinking about… challenge and magic
Considering… helping young people not to know
Welcome from the editor
Thinking is a strange occupation. We take past information and experience and try to mould it into something fresh that will satisfy whatever itch occasioned the think. For instance, as therapists, we have thinking as a resource from which to instinctively know how to be with a new client – not prescribing what happens but ‘knowing’ our job as therapists from deep experience of previous young clients.
I have been thinking, as I compiled this issue, that if losing and surviving a first love (Laura McDonald’s article), or managing to separate from parents without stuckness (Jim Pye’s), or simply playing intuitively (Bridget Sheehan’s) form part of brain learning and development – which they do by triggering new neural pathways – then obviously the current digital environment, which has become almost suffocating, must also affect our brains. Whether for bad or good is something we have to consider and act on, as Louis Weinstock writes in our lead article.
Yet even allowing that our brains must change as a response to the environment and the events they find themselves interacting with, something resonates deep in our core if we read one of the many YP dystopian novels our clients read. One recent novel is Delirium, by Lauren Oliver,1 in which young characters in an imagined future fight against the culturally imposed belief that love is a disease that will ultimately kill you – hence the compulsory lobotomy on your 18th birthday – as if they instinctively know that something is wrong. Perhaps this kind of storyline exemplifies Louis’ advice to commit to our authentic experience when judging what is good or bad for our emotional health, and to encourage our young clients to do so too, and act on their knowledge.
How the brain evolves and thinking develops is a fascinating topic – and one that led me to buy Mind Change, by Baroness Greenfield,2 which Louis mentions in his article, and Beeban Kidron’s film, InRealLife,3 about adolescents and digital devices (also mentioned). I spent a few hours reading and watching with thoughtful interest – the latter is excellent CPD material for the CYP division.
Both highlighted for me – albeit unintentionally – the fact that peaceful, uninterrupted thinking time is the hardest time of all to keep a grasp on these days. Teachers, clients and parents all tell me of its fleeting nature. And my own experience tells me that I need to fight to maintain my practice of thinking about my clients quietly and deeply outside of any supervision requirements. I have to let emails ping unanswered, put aside the doodling pen and close the iPad – because I believe that reflection-in-action (our stock in trade and good therapy practice) is sustained only by adequate reflection after previous events covering many clients over many years (OK, I admit I was incurably affected on my diploma course by reading Donald Schön’s The Reflective Practitioner).4 If I spend that precious thinking time idly surfing, following up leads and getting nowhere, I feel frustrated in the centre of my being. How much more our young people, if they were to pause and consider their activities.
I write to my young granddaughter each week and sometimes include little thinking posers. (This week: if a lorry carries birds who fly in transit, will the lorry weigh less than if they roosted?) She’ll be reading a paper letter (albeit word processed), and thinking instead of iPadding (an apt word I just invented). Maybe her brain will stay centred a little bit more on herself as she considers her previous knowledge and links it to the bird scenario in her head. It could help to keep her afloat on the digital wave that could pull us all under.
1 Oliver L. Delirium. London: Hodder Paperbacks; 2011.
2 Greenfield S. Mind change: how digital technologies are leaving their mark on our brains. London: Rider Books; 2014.
3 InRealLife. Beeban Kidron (dir). UK: Dogwoof; 2013.
4 Schön D. The reflective practitioner: how professionals think in action. London: Basic Books; 1983.