Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Supports Frontline Workers Identify as Helpful in Their Work with Troubled Youths

Karlene C. Ferron, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership for Change

Troubled youths are vulnerable individuals who rely on the support of human services frontline workers. This study examined the following question: "What supports do frontline workers identify as helpful in their work with troubled youths?" Autoethnography was one of two methodologies that framed the current research and connected the study to my personal journey. I conducted affirmative interviews with 12 frontline workers using the appreciative inquiry method. The major findings were that frontline workers identified the following significant supports: clinical supervision, paid time off, tuition reimbursement, continuing education, reduced paperwork, and collaboration with employers and team members. The findings are consistent with the philosophy of positive psychology, which values authenticity and the opportunity for individuals seeking to continue to grow personally and professionally (Duckworth, Steen, Martin & Seligman, 2005). The therapeutic position requires helping to "build the pleasant life, the engaged life, and the meaningful life" (Duckworth et al., 2005, pp.. 631-641).These results have implications for employers seeking to sustain frontline workers. Team effort might be more effective since schools, communities, and worksites are considered complex ecological systems (Hawe, Shiell & Riley, 2009). Additionally, frontline workers have a responsibility to uphold best practices by gaining the most out of supportive activities. They must perceive it as support not just for them but also to help them help youths and families (Halpern, 1997).

Keywords: Appreciative inquiry, frontline workers support, clinical supervision, employer-employee collaboration, autoethnography

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