Young People and Students
I have worked with young people and young adults between 11-25 in various capacities for 20 years, I completed my BA Hons in Youth and Community Work in 2004. I have manned youth club tuck shops, toiled alongside young volunteers as we built a BBQ, provided advice and guidance to young people in supported housing and I have managed youth projects within a local charity. Throughout I have always been struck by what young people bring to the table, curiosity, adventure, big dreams, questioning the norm. I have also seen the effects of the pressure they are under, the lack of choice and resources some have. It's not surprising that after retraining as a Counsellor that I continued to work with young people in my new capacity.
I have found that what young people need in the counselling room doesn't vary in some ways to what adults need - a safe, confidential space, an openness to heard without judgement, for me to trust what they say and to be reliable. What is different is having knowledge of the tasks of adolescence, the developmental trajectory they are on and an awareness of the context they are living in socially, educationally and digitally. The effects of Climate Change are something felt more by this age group so may be a theme in counselling at times. I have found that using more creative tools works well, being a bit more flexible in the session (I have knitted with clients in the past to help them relax) and a continuing openness to having a laugh! I am committed to working at the highest ethical standards so stay up to date with Safeguarding developments..
When counselling young adults and students I find it important to hold an awareness that the task of of identity formation is rarely done and dusted by 18, the sometimes tricky nature of becoming independent and the contradictory messages that we need to achieve/be sorted vs have fun/don't miss out remain a challenge well into our twenties. And actually our brains are still incredibly plastic right up until the age of 25 (they stay plastic for life but at a reduced rate) so they are working hard to build, consolidate and prune neural pathways all the way through those years of young adulthood.
I have worked with many students over the years on a range of issues, some related to student life and some not. Issues have included eating disorders, self-harm, family relationships, grief, anxiety/panic, low mood and sexual or gender identity.
There are particular challenges arising from the the events of the past 18 months for this age group, having social connections disrupted, a very different experience of school or higher/further education, grieving the loss of milestones and shared experiences which help us transition to the next stage. Of course, there is also great resilience and the ability to adapt, however some additional support to navigate these times may be useful for some.