What does voice and choice mean in Intensive Therapeutic Care?

Jul 2020

Written by Kelly Royds

Voice and choice can be an extremely difficult concept in Intensive Therapeutic Care to get right.

We know participation is a right, not a privilege, and we also know young people have tremendous capacity to heal and thrive in the context of warm, attuned, responsive and safe relationships. Equally being heard can enhance young people’s self-esteem and feelings of empowerment, benefit them psychologically and better ensures their needs are met. As Isaac’s Story demonstrates, consistent and safe relationships open the door towards increased self-esteem, capacity and future orientation.

But, facilitating young peoples’ voice and choice in residential care doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Participation is a multi-layered concept. It must be balanced with limit setting aligned to the young person’s evolving developmental abilities and needs.

As our recent Practice Guide: Finding the Balance Between Empowerment and Limit Setting explains, many of the young people we work with have long histories of instability and disruption in care with repeated experiences of relationships with adults who have sought to care for them ultimately ending – because their behaviour was ‘too challenging’. Attempts to exercise voice or choice may have resulted in further harm, and they have their own rules about how the world and relationships work that is the cumulative impact of that lived experience.

As such, young people’s readiness and willingness to have a voice and choice must walk hand in hand with the required rules, limits and consequences in place within the house.

So, what might voice and choice in Intensive Therapeutic Care mean from a young person’s perspective?

The below table provides some insights into what this might look like.

 width=

To see the full Voices and Choices in a Nutshell, visit the Department of Communities and Justice here.

It is critical to understand and support the capacity of young people to make good life decisions and avoid risk taking and unsafe behaviour. Provide them with opportunities to practice having a voice and making decisions within their developmental abilities. Look for meaningful ways in which young people can participate in the planning and running of the house. Support young people to develop plans and set goals for themselves in areas that they are interested in and motivated about.

 

Practice Reflections

  • How can you create opportunities for young people to have a voice and make choices that you can tolerate/within safe boundaries?
  • What do you do in your care and support of young people that provides them with validation about their strengths and capacities?

 

Please check out our recent Practice Guide: Finding the Balance Between Empowerment and Limit Setting for more.

You may be interested in: Youth participation

Young peoples' participation is a right, not a privilege
Young peoples' participation is a right, not a privilege Written by: Meaghan Vosz
Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), Australian young people should be assured the right to express their views freely in all matters that affect...
Read more
Enabling young people’s participation in residential care decision-making - Research brief
Enabling young people’s participation in residential care decision-making - Research brief Written by: Lynne McPherson Natalie Parmenter Kathomi Gatwiri Meaghan Vosz
The literature on how young people participate in decision-making in residential care identifies three main aspects of participation: being able to access information to take part in decisions that matter;...
Read more
10 ways to enable young people's participation in therapeutic residential care
10 ways to enable young people's participation in therapeutic residential care Written by: Meaghan Vosz
In this blog, I’m keen to offer practitioners in therapeutic residential care some ideas about how to involve young people in decisions that affect their lives. Many young people in...
Read more
Isaac's story: Having a voice in out-of-home care
Isaac's story: Having a voice in out-of-home care Written by: Isaac Kimberley Lamb Lauren Cooper
Isaac is 15 years old, about 6ft tall, and you know when he is in the room. Isaac lives in his house with one other young person. Isaac experiences the...
Read more
Tahlia’s story: Having a voice in out-of-home care
Tahlia’s story: Having a voice in out-of-home care Written by: Tahlia Lauren Cooper Kimberley Lamb
Tahlia is a 16-year-old young woman who likes to be in complete control of her world at all times. She is as strong, articulate and as sassy as they come....
Read more
“It wasn't just listening to your ideas, it was following through”
“It wasn't just listening to your ideas, it was following through” Written by: Shelley Keevers Dylan Williams Ben Bonnie Meaghan Vosz
In 2019 and 2020, a group of young people with firsthand experience in out-of-home care joined PhD candidate Meaghan Vosz to research the practices associated with ‘giving due weight’ to...
Read more
Q&A with Mohita Kapoor from CREATE Foundation
Q&A with Mohita Kapoor from CREATE Foundation Written by: Kelly Royds
In September 2020 Mohita Kapoor, the NSW State Coordinator for the CREATE Foundation was invited to speak at our Therapeutic Specialist forum for those working within the Intensive Therapeutic Care...
Read more
“Just ask Us”: Insights into working with young people with disability
“Just ask Us”: Insights into working with young people with disability Written by: Laura Moloney
In late 2020, the Advocate for Children Young People (ACYP) shared their first report dedicated exclusively to the unique lived experiences of young people with disability. They asked 370 children...
Read more
Mandatory consent education, a win for all young people
Mandatory consent education, a win for all young people Written by: Kelly Royds Cyra Fernandes
Consent education will be mandatory in Australian schools from 2023, a win for Chanel Contos’ #teachusconsent movement and all young people who have called out a lack of holistic consent and sexuality...
Read more
Strengthening connections & relationships project
Strengthening connections & relationships project Written by: Lynne McPherson
What is this research about? Young people in residential care face major challenges that can prevent them from forming healthy relationships and a strong personal identity, which are critical building...
Read more
What Professor Cindy Blackstock can teach us about trusting children and ourselves
What Professor Cindy Blackstock can teach us about trusting children and ourselves Written by: Kelly Royds
First Nations children's rights activist and 2022 International Childhood Trauma Conference speaker Cindy Blackstock recently said that adults need to trust children with the truth. "They can handle it," Blackstock...
Read more
Asked but not heard: Another report calls for change in out-of-home care
Asked but not heard: Another report calls for change in out-of-home care Written by: Kelly Royds
A new report released by the NSW Advocate for Children and Young People, Zoë Robinson, calls on the government to listen and respond to the voices of children and young...
Read more