Counselling Tips for Youth

It is important to acknowledge the fact that as a counsellor, you are an adult, and the Youth is… well, a Youth.  Just as you have gone through the adolescent stages in life, the fact of the matter is that, you are no longer an adolescent.  Youth may be able to recognize the experiences that we as adults have had over our years, however, that does not necessarily mean that they value them in the same way we feel they should.  It is important to acknowledge that when a Youth approaches you for counsel, it is often more of an opportunity to have someone hear them out and validate their most recent experiences, as opposed to taking on the role of the “advice-giver”.  Naturally, for people who have experienced adolescence, we can often fall into the trap of talking at the Youth, as opposed to really giving them what they want.  So, here are a few tips.

1. Actively listen to them

Listening to Youth does not mean you simply sit there and take in all they have to say, otherwise, by the end of the conversation, I’m sure you’ve probably forgotten your own name and the day of the week too.  Summarize often and repeat back to them things that you’ve heard them say, using their own words and let them direct the conversation, with just a little bit of guidance.  Start sentences with phrases like “It sounds like to me that you’ve said… “

2. Ask questions

Showing interest and helping them delve deeper in to the root of their issues really begins the opportunity of helping them build on their own problem solving techniques.  Remember, the point of counselling is not to solve all of their issues or talk their ears off, but it’s to help them realize that they are able individuals who can determine different solutions to their own problems.  This can be done in third person methods as well, such as “If your friend came to you for advice about this issue, what would you tell them?” as it helps create a sense of anonymity, and challenges them to really think about their issues as well.  This method can be very empowering as you can suggest that they try their own suggestions.

3. Always follow up

There is nothing worse than having confided in someone about the issues in your life, only to feel all the courage you built up to go and talk to someone about it with was simply a wasted effort.  Try to set a reminder for yourself to intentionally approach the individual and ask them how it has been going since you last spoke with them.  This act will definitely go a long way, and will encourage rapport between the two of you.

Triple A’s.  Try it out!

Developed by: Timothy Woo, MSW RSW

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