Anyone who works with youth with mental or behavioral health diagnoses feels frustration. Behavioral health treatment takes time and you may not see the immediate results. As the Clinical Supervisor, I see the “big picture” of the many, many youth we help each year. Having my office in one of our youth homes gives me insight into the day-to-day realities of our youths’ lives and treatment. Kids in treatment don’t always show their most positive side, but they often surprise us at the oddest times!
The Rapper and the Photo
Today while sitting in my office a counselor came in and showed me a picture of one of our youth with a famous rap artist. I am so out of the loop that I have no idea who this rap artist is. It wasn’t until the counselor told me that the youth was “Johnny” (name changed) that the whole story clicked.
Three weeks earlier, Johnny’s therapist texted me and asked if we could move Johnny to another group home. I contacted his home manager and therapist and asked about Johnny. They still wanted to work with him. But they explained that johnny “is loud, impulsive, rude, has poor boundaries, cusses all the time, is defiant, uses NO MANNERS and just a really difficult youth.”
As the counselor showed me this picture, he told me how Johnny went to the mall on a pass with his mom. His mother told staff that a rapper was in a store surrounded by his body guards and they were pushing people away. The rapper kept his back to the crowd of people who were trying to take pictures and demanding autographs.
Johnny walked up to one of the body guards and in a very polite manner asked, “Excuse me, could I please have my picture taken with the rapper?”
The body guard waved him away, but the rapper turned around then and asked, “Who is the young man who asked permission to take my picture?”
The body guard grabbed Johnny and the rapper stated, “Since he asked politely I will have my picture taken with this young man.” Johnny proudly stood next to this rapper and got his picture taken.
Celebrating the Small Successes
The youth home counselor was about to bust with pride as he related this story. He said, “I know that we haven’t seen much of his good behaviors in the home, but the fact that he was able to identify in a situation a place where using his manners might get him the picture and he did it, makes the F-bombs worth it.”
It is inspiring to see that during the time we have with these youth we do something positive with the time we have. They do learn from us. We may not see it the way we want to see it, but they are learning. A youth may one day get their pic taken with a rap artist because you taught them how to ask permission. We provide the tools so they can grab the opportunities that come their way…a true path to a healthy, happy future!
Angie is a Clinical Supervisor for Youth Dynamics. Angie provides sound clinical advice to Practitioner’s in Training (PIT’s), various teams, and new therapists throughout the agency. For the past year, Angie has commuted from Billings to Boulder to be a therapist in our Boulder Youth Homes. She is well regarded by youth, families, and staff. Her 7 years at Youth Dynamics have given her amazing opportunities to develop her therapy skills. She uses her experience to provide other practitioners with new ideas to help the families they work with become successful. Angie is an avid sun worshiper, novelty ghost hunter, and loves to travel. When she retires from therapeutic practice, she hopes to be the Commissioner of the NFL.