We must change our thoughts in youth work.

Perception. It is what causes many of the issues I see every day. It is also something that I have been thinking about a lot lately. Whether it is our perception of our clients, others perceptions of us or our perception of ourselves; how we think about the world informs our actions within it.

In the therapeutic world this is something that has taken hold through therapies such as CBT and REBT which ask us to change our way of thinking about issues and situations. The paradigm of positive psychology echoes this also. How we look at our situation denotes how we will stand up to the issues we are facing.

Our world is hurting. It seems like every time I turn on the news some new atrocity has happened. People are being killed, raped, cheated and broken by their fellow man. When working with our young people we hear the stories of brokenness that encompass their lives. It would be easy to se the world as beyond hope.

For us to show the hope that the world needs we must first change how we think about it. May of those who know me best believe that I am an eternal optimist. When it looks like its at its worst I see hope. When I hear of people turning against each other I look to peace. When I see people hurting I look to restoration. This does not mean that I am blind to the current situation, on the contrary I am acutely aware. It meant that I am looking to the future and to hope.

I was not always like this however. When I was a teen myself I was a glass is half empty kind of guy. The world was against me and no one could tell me differently. I always saw the worst in a situation and in others and I suffered for it. We ask our young people to change their way of thinking every day. Perhaps for us as a profession to go to the next level we must change our thoughts as well. If we do we can change the world. 

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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