Good self care in youth work

Self care is an ethical requirement

I have heard, over the past year or so, more excuses as to why youth workers can’t commit to self care than I care to recall. These excuses ranged from a lack of time and money to not knowing where to start and lack of support from management. Many of these excuses are baseless and push focus away from the workers who should have been more involved in their own care. However there are a number which have a base in dodgy policy and even worse practice.
First amongst my pet peeves is the youth worker who believes that they can trod through their work without supervision, professional development and support and still provide exceptional support to their clients. YOU CAN’T! It is one thing that it is not given to you as a youth worker, it is completely incompetent to not actively seek it out in your own time on your own dime. It is an ethical requirement that youth workers perform at their best, Which means youth workers need to have training and support to deal with the load that we carry. It is an ethical requirement for ultimate youth workers.
Self care is an ethical requirement
The second and even more repulsive is when managers put ticking boxes above the health and wellbeing of their staff. Over the years I have worked in a number of different organisations and have seen great managers and woeful ones. The ones who put the funding agreements above their staff have revolving doors which spit those staff out when they are all used up. They rarely send staff to professional development that is worth going to and don’t know how to supervise their staff apart from the administrative graces of checking their case load is up to scratch. These managers vehemently defend the ethical need to reach targets and quash those who speak of self care being just as ethically required.
Good self care is an ethical requirement not something that can be forgotten. Exceptional youth workers need great support and training. There is no excuse for lacking self care.

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Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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