Session 2
Four Relational, Culturally Safe Approaches

A common need

No two youth experiencing anxiety are the same. Each has their own unique identity and ways of seeing the world. The ways in which anxiety shows up in youth are also unique. However, all youth share a common need to feel a sense of warmth, belonging and mattering, and to be seen and understood exactly as they are. According to Dr. Gordon Neufeld, bestselling author of Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers, these are relational necessities. Dr. Neufeld has worked with families, foster and adoptive parents and troubled youth for more than 45 years. His experience has resulted in a profound understanding of what young people need from adults to thrive and heal, regardless of their circumstances. He has helped many parents and caregivers take the lead in providing what youth need to thrive, grow and mature despite common challenges like anxiety.

Ashley's Story

Hear from Ashley, a former youth in care. Her story unfolds as you move through the course.

There is a lot of evidence supporting relationship as the most important factor in a young person’s developmental journey toward becoming all that they can be. And a lot of research shows the impacts of unmet relational needs, anxiety being one of them.

Dr. Neufeld identifies the essential relational needs of all youth as follows:

When their relational needs are met, youth flourish—regardless of their circumstances.

But essential relational needs may not be met for many reasons. For example, intergenerational trauma may have affected a parent’s capacity to provide these things. Or there may have been a loss through the death or physical absence of a parent due to divorce or other factors. 

Youth not living in the care of their biological parents have already experienced overwhelming separation that can interfere with their needs being met. This is where you, as a caregiver or care provider, can make a significant difference in the life of the youth in your care. 

By understanding these essential relational needs, you can be empowered to take the lead in providing what is most essential to a youth: relationship! The dance of relationship is something that should be guided, where possible, in culturally affirming ways that draw on the traditions of the youth’s family, community and traditions.

'It's your path but you don't have to walk it alone.'

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