NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ978749
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 15
ISSN: ISSN-1089-5701
Unconditional Space: Turning Risk into Resilience
Smart, Max
Reclaiming Children and Youth, v21 n1 p33-36 2012
The concept of "space" has been used in youth care parlance to describe how and where relational care with youth takes place. Interpersonal space is central to child and youth care practice. It is the realm in which helping adults work to engage and connect with a youth. Unconditional space is designed around the "needs" of the youth and not problem behaviour. In developmental psychology terms, growth needs are defined in The Four A's: (1) The child needs to "Attach" to caring persons; (2) "Achieve" competence; (3) gain responsible "Autonomy"; and (4) act with "Altruism" to others. These needs cannot be met if behaviour problems trigger consequences designed to exclude the youth from rewarding activities. If a youth acted inappropriately yesterday, he is still welcome today. Likewise if he had gotten into a fight, or taken drugs or alcohol the night before, he should be able to participate, whether he seems to deserve this or not. The unconditional space is exactly as "said on the tin"--without condition. A positive environment is never a privilege but always a need. This interpersonal space is the arena to claim the youth, build his belonging (even if initially with just one adult), and build his competence and self-esteem. An angry youth acts in ways that can evoke serial rejection from adults who react with punishment and exclusion. This article describes how David, an adolescent boy with a horrendous life history and who was deeply adult-wary, was given a safe space in which to experience unconditional belonging with staff who responded to his needs.
Reclaiming Children and Youth. PO Box 57 104 N Main Street, Lennox, SD 57039. Tel: 605-647-2532; Fax: 605-647-5212; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (Scotland)