Simply Being There for a Teenager

Sarah is a 15-year-old old transgender boy on my caseload who goes by the name of Steve. He lives in a group home after being removed from his father’s care because of physical abuse. He was removed from his mother’s care at age 6 because of physical abuse to his half-brother, and he lived solely with his father since then. He has been in out-of-home for almost a year now.

Shannon Phare
Shannon Phare

After hearing a presentation by a group of former foster children on how their experiences could have been better, I told Steve at the end of our next visit that no matter what it is, no matter what he wants to do, he always has to tell me because I am here for him. A theme that stood out in the presentation was that these youth had wanted to spend more time with their case manager. Steve thanked me.

Applying this to my work with this teenager has truly evolved our relationship. Steve discusses with me what he truly wants with his life. He has opened up to me about wanting to have medication for anxiety and depression and how he has wanted to change schools. He has talked about how he truly felt about being reunited with his father.

Steve told me that he thinks that both of his parents love him, but that they really are not good parents and he is better off on his own. Steve and I have since begun working on independent living.

Knowing that Steve knew that his parents loved him and how he had really wanted to be reunified with his father for so long, I knew that what he really wanted was a better relationship and communication with his father. So, Steve and I talked and I also talked with his father and have implemented therapy for them both.

Steve’s father no longer drinks, and he is fully committed to having Steve back in home with him. And now, Steve is truly committed to being back in home.

Steve and I do have visits at the group home, but usually we go out to eat, or go do something, because this is a much better and more natural way for a teen to open up to you, talk, and gain trust.

At the end of every visit with Steve, we make our plan for the next month and I always I still use that same line. I tell him, you know no matter what it is, you just tell me, because I am here for you. Sometimes that’s the key to unlock many doors.


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