“It is through communication that practitioners establish relationships with people, and quality of service by the practitioner is enhanced” (Stuart, 2009).
To communicate is one of the most important things a CYCP learns to do before, during and even after their time working in the field. Communication can look very different in various situations, but can be categorized by the forms that it takes in those situations- verbal and nonverbal, written, technological, and professional networking, to name a few.
Communication at its roots is something that we, as CYCPs (and humans, of course), do to convey thoughts and feelings, and though verbal communication is something we do on the daily, about 70% of all communication a CYCP will do in their work is nonverbal; communication can be done through body language and what have been coined as “microexpressions“: expressions that may cross the face for a fraction of a second, but are universally recognized as meaning the same thing; joy, anger, sadness, contempt, disgust, surprise and fear are the seven main recognizable expressions. Being conscious of your body language and microexpressions and that of others you work with as a CYCP is crucial; because nonverbal communication makes up 70% of all communication a CYCP does, it is important to be just as expressive and welcoming in body language as spoken language, and avoid causing feelings of distress in the children and youth they will work alongside.
Written communication involves documents that a CYCP would write on a regular basis, such as case files/plans, contacts notes/logs, letters and reports to other professionals. Although professionalism is a separate competency, it overlaps into communication and all of the other competencies because it is a driving force of a CYCP’s career; keeping your presence a professional one as a practitioner involves being aware of audience in written documentation at all times, because it may very well end up in the hands of the client you’re writing about, or the judge of a court case involving said subject. It is imperative that proper language is used in all documentation, and that the writing is free of personal judgement, bias and assumption. Practitioners will also frequently write about themselves in a practice known as reflective writing, as plenty of the work they do also involves themselves, and their Selves.
Another common form of communication, especially nowadays, is technological. It is critical to remember that, as a practitioner, one must have a sense of professionalism and audience in all writing, and that does include social media and online posts elsewhere. Confidentiality and security is important to the online life of a CYCP, because they can’t have their clients finding them and attempting to contact them through methods that are not appropriate outside their professional relationship, and clients especially should not be seeing anything that could be considered inappropriate being done by the CYCP or those they affiliate with.
Professional networking, the last category mentioned, involves practitioners having a relationship with other professionals- both more adept and emerging after them in the field- and members of their community and those nearby. Having knowledge of all the available resources for clients and whatever their needs may be is absolutely imperative of any CYCP, and it’s through professional networking with other CYCPs and the community that this is done. Networking can also be done to destigmatize the children and youth that practitioners work with by advocating for them and ensuring that their needs can and will be met by their community members.
Essentially, as it’s all been mentioned above, it is clear that communication is mandatory in the practice of a CYCP. After all, it is one of the most basic skills we all perform as humans. Learning to hone that skill and utilize it in the most positive way to impact the children and youth one will work with is another story.
Evidence of Competency
WRITTEN: Written communication is an absolutely essential part of CYC work, as practitioners are always creating case notes, logs, writing reports, and occasionally making court visits, where their writings will be observed by a judge or magistrate and other court staff as well as the public who attend the court. This of course is not something that will happen to every CYCP in their career, but it is always a possibility depending on their demographic of choice.
With that in mind, I always attempt to write in the most eloquent way possible, but without coming off as pretentious or aloof. The evidence of this is quite literally everywhere! On this website, at least.
TECHNOLOGY: Advances in the child social work field and in technology mean that a good many of (if not all) newer practitioners are coming into their work with a great knowledge of technology – this includes the ability to navigate and utilize programs such as Microsoft Word and Excel for note and log creation and other similar things, and the ability to effectively use social media platforms as well. That said, the proof for this sub-domain is in the pudding (and by ‘pudding,’ I really mean this blog, and my success in writing and formatting each page, navigating without difficulty and livening up the place with photos and videos at every turn).
PROFESSIONALS/COMMUNITY: Throughout the first year of the program, I’ve done a bit of networking, albeit small, within my community. My first semester Communications course once had me reaching out to a program coordinator at the local Youth Unlimited to conduct an interview and learn more about the services that they offered; though I didn’t know it at the time, this was an excellent opportunity to do a bit of research on local facilities and what it is exactly that they offer to children and youth, and by extension, when and how to connect with these facilities to benefit the youth I will work with in this same city in the near future.
On top of this networking experience, I have also had the opportunity to meet a case worker with the local Children’s Aid Society, which I’m sure will serve me well in my future work, as it has already begun to help me out currently with certain assignments and debates past in Neuro-development. As has been discussed earlier in the above description, professional networking is pinnacle in the field, as it allows practitioners to connect young people to vital resources and other professionals as they are needed throughout the therapeutic intervention process. Without these networks, CYCPs would surely be completely lost in trying to help their young clients with every issue they may face.
Stuart, C. (2009). Foundations of Child and Youth Care. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Publishing Company.
Image taken from zakijufri.blogspot.com