The use of instruction and guidance in the relationship between the life space worker and children and young people : a training exercise

Date Posted: Saturday, 15 December 2007

The Use of Instruction and Guidance in the relationship between the  Life Space Worker and Children and Young People : a training exercise
Instruction and guidance

In the 1980s Denis O’Connor, a Newcastle-based  counsellor, who amongst many other things he did, ran a project for youngsters whose problem was solvent abuse, told me that though he was in his counselling a  therapist of  the humanist persuasion, he did  not necessarily see himself constricted  by its ethos. He always hoped that the problems of young people could be overcome and insight gained through their belief in themselves, through exploration and discovery, and through negotiation, but if it were to prove effective, he was prepared to use any other intervention – as long it was legal –  and, particularly in the short term, if he felt it would help a young person feel better about himself. I believe he would have risked using instruction and guidance in what for a humanist would have been regarded as  ‘extra curricula’ intervention. I have wondered if instruction and guidance have a place in the relationships between young people and their life space workers.

Let’s look at these terms :

Instruction can mean on the one hand teaching, training and tuition. On the other hand it can mean an order, a command, a directive.

Guidance can mean help, advice, support and counselling. It can also mean leadership, direction, control and management.
As you can see each of these terms travels along a continuum between what might be called a ‘soft’ definition to a ‘hard’ definition but it seems that when we think about them alongside what we mean by relationships they all imply a notion of one participant in a relationship having knowledge and wisdom gained by experience which the other participant has not..

My view is that young people can feel insecure when they are confronted with new situations and look to model their responses to a new situation on those   who seem to them more familiar with it. Yet it seems to me in situations where issues of personal safety arise there may be times when a young person needs direct instruction from an adult figure and that these will be accepted if  they are delivered sensitively and with respect.

Occasions arise when a young person has a moral dilemma which is both new and confusing to him. At these times the guidance of an adult is helpful to young people.

It is important  if a life space worker is to use instruction and guidance  as aids to young people that they be exercised sparingly  on those occasions when they are  inarguably necessary. We should  not deny young people the freedom to make discoveries on their own or that we should seek to control their actions in such a way that they become so inhibited they cannot take considered risks.



Do you you think that a professional carer should be prepared to offer instruction and guidance?
If so in what kind of situations ?
If not, why not. Discuss concrete examples.
If your answer is yes and no then discuss why you have come to this conclusion.


 © and Charles Sharpe