Age: Born 18th February 1940
Location: Cowichan Bay, Vancouver Island
I began working with kids as a school teacher in the UK in 1961. From 1963 to 1966 I worked as a probation officer in Liverpool before moving to the British Columbia Probation Service. Being convinced that too little attention was being given to the families of ‘troubled kids’ I went back to graduate school and emerged as a Family Therapist working at the Burnaby Mental Health Centre. Perverse to the core, I then came to the conclusion that the kids I was most concerned about needed a combination of family therapy and intensive individual work. In 1971 I moved to Calgary to work as a Therapist at The William Roper Hull Home. In charge of their residential program for adolescent girls, I was able to integrate these two modalities and liked the outcome. I then decided that it would be interesting to have boys and girls residing in the same unit. This was certainly a challenge, but well worth the effort. This type of meddling came to an end when I accepted the position of Senior Therapist and spent most of my time supervising the work of others. Two years later, I accepted the position of Director of the Youth Development Centre in Edmonton – Alberta’s primary residential facility for ‘delinquent’ kids. After only one year, I returned to William Roper Hull Child and Family Services as Executive Director and held this position for about twenty years. After leaving that job I worked for seven years as a professor in the Child and Youth Care program at Vancouver Island University. Writing has always been a passion and I took great pleasure in being editor of The Journal of Child & Youth Care and Relational Child & Youth Care Practice.
How I came to be in this field
The truth is that I ‘drifted’ into it. I have always felt restricted by professional labels but Child & Youth Care offered me the freedom I seemed to need. Early in my career, I became convinced that personal growth and change takes place within relationships and, for me, that’s what this profession is all about. I also discovered kindred spirits like Thom Garfat, Mark Krueger and Leanne Rose-Sladde, to keep me focused and honest.
My favorite saying
“For-giving is for-getting.” Jack Schwartz
“All children know more than their parents.” The Dalai Lama
A few thoughts about child and youth care
I hope it will never become a ‘real’ profession, only a ‘real’ experience.
Child and Youth Care workers can be with kids, without having to fix them.
The challenge is to know children, not to know ‘about’ them.
A child’s life can be transformed through one moment of being with someone who is curious, caring and completely ‘there.’
The last thing I read, watched, heard that I would recommend to others
Manchester United versus Manchester City
Favorite CYC experience
The day an eleven-year-old ‘non-verbal’ girl told me to “fuck-off.”
A few thoughts for those starting out
Every child has all the resources he or she needs – on the inside.
You cannot fix another person, any more than you can make them happy.
Whether you like it or not, you will become a surrogate parent – good luck.
You can’t give what you don’t have.
Look after your Self.
Never support the cause of the ‘victim.’
These kids are not sick – fight the pharmaceutical bullshit.
For Freud’s sake – have fun.
CYC net meets all my needs
A writing of my own
Turning My Self Inside-Out. Journal of Child & Youth Care. Vol 15. No.4 (2001)
Influences on my work
My own childhood and every relationship thereafter.