Category Archives: teens

Risky social work business

Sometimes I wish I could direct people to my blog when they ask how things are going at my new job. I become exhausted at times while trying to explain why it’s great, why it’s stressful, why it’s hard, why it’s fun… It’s helpful talking it out with some people, but sometimes I don’t even know how to start. How can I summarize all I’ve shared on here? And honestly I feel like there is so much about the new job that I haven’t even addressed in this blog yet.

One thing that has been a huge adjustment in my new position is how much is at stake each day. Or at least how much it feels like there is at stake.

For one thing, I have never done so many suicide assessments in such a short period of time. And it’s terrifying.

Each time I leave work after speaking with a child who is expressing that they want to die or want to hurt themselves, I feel empty and sad. It stays with me all night and often for days after. When one of my current clients was absent from school a full week after he shared his suicidal thoughts, my initial reaction was fear that something terrible had happened. Continue reading

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Process Recorded Episode IV: A New Hope

A little while ago in a city sort of far away.…

It is a period of transition. Process Recorded, though a little frazzled, has arrived in her new city, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

Pursued by concerns of what was left behind, Process Recorded races to gather information and prepare for meeting new clients, hoping to restore passion where soul-sucking aspects of her previous organization had caused it to fade…. Continue reading

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Not Another Transition/Termination Post

When you’re in transition, it seems like that’s all there is to talk about. Or maybe that’s just how it works for me. But I do think that people often define themselves by the big transitions and changes in their lives, whether only at the time or for a lifetime afterwards.

Most of my clients experience common childhood transitions as they move from elementary school to middle school to high school. But for a lot of them these milestones serve mainly as markers for greater sources of change. And although they can’t always remember what happened last summer, they remember the grade they were in when their parent left home and didn’t come back. And what school they went to when they first experienced the staying power of abuse, racism, or other injustice. They can pinpoint what they were doing when they found out a family member died. Or went to jail. And so on.

Sometimes transition is the baseline for the youth I meet. Foster care, immigration, or just frequent moves between states, countries or family members’ homes have contributed to constant change in the scenery around them. For some of these clients, routine feels more disruptive and unusual than the upheaval they anticipate daily. Temporary is understandable. Permanent is strange and unknown. Continue reading

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“But Miss! that’s just how we joke around!”

Recently a very normal thing happened. A teen in one of my groups made a “joke” at the expense of two other group members. The “joke” came during a team-building game that this particular group begs to play every time we meet. The next week, I went to the student’s school to talk more since this was not the first time we had disagreed about the line between a joke and an insult.

After pleasantries…
Me: Do you know why I wanted to come talk to you?
16 y/o: (shrugs) I dunno?
Me: Do you remember what happened last time the group met?
16 y/o: Oh that? Yeah… but Miss, you just took what I said too seriously…

If I had a dollar for every time a teenager told me I was taking them too seriously, being too sensitive, or didn’t understand because I felt the need to address negative comments they had made about others… Well, I could probably work for free. But I love the conversation that follows, so bring it on teens! Tell me I’m wrong!

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Oh, you work with teenagers?

I love working with teenagers.

I make this or similar statements often when describing what I do. The responses I receive generally fall in to two categories, with very few landng somewhere in the middle. The first type of response occurs when I am talking to the minority of people who also work with teenagers and love what they do (pairing emphasized due to the unfortunately large and infamous group of people who have decided to work with teenagers despite believing they are demon spawn). This response often comes in the form of a smile and nod, sometimes accompanied by an anecdote that exemplifies why the adolescent age group is enjoyable to work with.

The second and more common response customarily includes a look that to me suggests I have just grown a second head or confessed to eating babies. The look is usually followed by a shocked statement about how impressed or surprised they are that I can do/enjoy/survive such a job. The accompanying tone of voice indicates that I might as well make a living carrying shards of glass from place to place between my toes. Even more fascinating to me is that this type of response often comes directly from my adolescent clients, who ask me if I’m crazy and insist: “Miss, I would never want to work with teenagers.”

Continue reading

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