What does a CYC practioner look like?
If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then …
Visiting a few CYC programs lately, I was struck by the comments that several workers, who had academic backgrounds in social work, corrections, psychology among others, voiced about CYC theory.
Basically, they stated that they did not use CYC approaches because it was not their training. What is a CYC approach? There are lots of ways to answer this, but this is my answer:
You join the youth where he/she actually is (often stuck in very primitive and suspicious mindsets and physically defensive positions) rather than focussing on a distant goal line of behaviourally capable accomplishments.
You focus on the first (or next) step to take, not some magical transformation.
You focus on creating self motivation, not external reward and punishment techniques to create results. Compliance without really valuing the changed way of being does not work no matter how often the new behaviour is “practiced”.
You can describe who the youth is, not what the goals and measures of conforming behaviour look like.
You see the intrinsic value in creating connections and the worth of creating the desire for connection in these disconnected youths.
You let go of your own judgments (often based on the values of much safer and more connected people) and focus on your intentions (to be helpful) as you search for answers about what needs to be done.
You believe in an overall theory about change and supporting people to be healthy, which may be hard to articulate, but which has clear do’s and don’ts which need to be followed.
You resist criticism from others about being too easy, optimistic, caring or engaged with youth.
Good child and youth care workers can find each other in the dark – Tony Macciocio (2000).