Hatton, Jean (2014) ‘The Use of Self’ in a Youth Work Context. In: Training Agency Group annual conference Summer 2014, 26th - 28th June 2014, Newman College, Birmingham. (Unpublished)

‘Relationships are, and always have been, at the heart of youth work’ (Young, 2006:62).
This is not something new. To understand the nature of this relationship it would seem necessary to understand something about the importance of practitioners knowing ‘who they are’ as a youth worker so that the youth worker can attempt to be the ‘authentic self’ (Rogers, 1961).

On researching the youth and community work literature it seems that very little has been written about the ‘use of self’ or the nature of the identity that might be seen as this ‘authentic self’ in a youth and community work context. This presentation will seek to explore what we might mean by ‘the use of self’ in a youth work context in 2014. The interest of the author started with issues around LGBT identity for youth workers but this presentation will take a wider perspective looking at what is meant by ‘identity’ for professionals in the context of youth work practice as well as touching on some of the issues that LGBT workers may have in common with practitioners from other ‘minority groups’.

The presentation will examine what is meant by ‘identity’; mostly from a sociological perspective but also taking a glance at other perspectives. It will acknowledge some of the literature from the 1980s about identity and youth work practice (Trenchard and Warren, 1983; Carpenter and Young, 1986) as well as touching on ideas from Counselling and Social work literature where ideas about ‘the use of self’ have been explored in depth over the years.

The presentation will go on to examine how identity is viewed within a professional perspective: examining ideas of how the importance of self-awareness and one’s own life experiences impact on practice. It will also look briefly at the role of reflective practice in deepening this self-awareness within a youth work context where unpredictability and the lack of clarity around boundaries are part of everyday experience

As this is’ a work in progress’ for the author the session will aim to be interactive and there will be opportunities for colleagues to contribute to the discussion regarding their views of ‘the use of self’ within a youth work context.

Carpenter, Val and Young, Kerry (1986) Coming In From the Margins
Rogers, Carl (1961, 1979) On Becoming a Person; London: Constable
Trenchard and Warren (1983) Something to Tell You; London: Gay Teenage Group
Young, Kerry (2006) The Art of Youth Work (2nd ed) Lyme Regis; Russell House Publishing

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