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creating resources with young people

When a young person has experienced sexual abuse, their world can become uncertain and being able to express how they’re feeling is not always easy. Resources are things we can use to help with this communication and unpick thoughts, wishes and feelings.



There are 2 main types of resources we are going to focus on;

  • Pre-created resources, which are usually templates that are ready to use
  • Free flow resources, which are created by or with the young person

Both types can provide great benefits for young people and when used correctly, they may be something a young person can use for years to come.

Things to consider with ALL resources

When we are working with young people, we have to remember that their voice is the most important in the room. We can show young people that we truly believe this by the way we introduce, use and store resources as well as what to do with resources once sessions or support ends.

Introducing Resources

  • First and foremost for any resources, we must ensure they meet the needs of the child (are the accessible for those with additional needs, is any language used age appropriate etc).
  • Resources can be triggering – so feeling confident in the use of them is really important. If you have pre-created resources, take time to rehearse using them prior to any direct work and if you’re using a free flow approach, have some open ended questions prepared or practice the approach with colleagues.
  • Giving young people choice of the resources they use, when they’re used and how is crucial. This could involve asking questions such as, “is it okay if I show you some resources we could use?”
  • Let young people know the boundaries with resources, can they be used for the whole session? Will they be available every session?

Using Resources

We truly believe what Karen Treisman says, “The magic is the process not just the product.” And for us at Beacon we’d take that a step further and say that the true magic is in the relationship you build along the way.

  • Take time to set the environment up for each session, and ask the young person if they’d like to be involved in some/all of this process and if you’ve agreed to add additional materials (e.g. glitter, glue etc then make sure you remember to do it)
  • It is THEIR resource so they need to decide how they’re going to be used. This means choosing when in the day or session they use the resource through to choosing which colours or materials they use.
  • Creating a fun, enjoyable and interactive environment is likely to help the child explore, engage and safely explore their imagination, thoughts and feelings.
  • Be present, be mindful, listen and seek to understand.

Storing Resources

  • We need to understand how precious resources are to young people; it may be the only thing they feel in control of so we have to honour this. Asking them, “Where are we going to keep your resource?” is really important, and you have to follow through with whatever you’ve promised – if they’ve asked you to keep it in your draw and next week it has been used as a coaster, imagine how that would make them feel.
  • Resources can be portable so ask the young person if they’d like to take it with them or have a second copy for home/school etc.

Finishing Resources

  • Give young people 5 minutes warning before the end of each session, so they can finish what they’re doing and can help clear away resources and store for next time.
  • It may be that you are coming to the end of your sessions with a young person or they’re moving schools for example – what happens with their precious resources? You have to be honest, as practitioners we cannot keep young people’s resources forever so make an action plan with then in the final few sessions. Are they going to keep? Are you going to photograph it and then throw it away? Could it be folded up and put into a memory jar?

Pre-created resources

Sometimes it can be hard to know where to start, so having some templates and ready to use activities can be really beneficial. These pre-created resources are just as important should be treated just as preciously as any other object that young person has.

There are lots of templates and ready to use resources out there. From educational resource websites such as Twinkl through to charities like YoungMinds, there are a wide range of free resources you can access.

Here at Barnardo’s Beacon, we have developed some of our own tried and tested resources, some of which have been created by young people, and you can download them for free here.

Free Flow Resources

The best way to support a young person to create their own resources is to follow their interests and let them take the lead. This could be offering a range of materials such as paper, colours, string and sticky tape and asking some open ended questions such as, “Could you draw that feeling?”

Free flow resources can look vastly different; a young person could create their own comic book or build their own car wash out of junk modeling for example. They will carry their own meaning to that young person and can serve as great tools for talking about behaviour and all of the emotions that sit behind it.

There’s no one way for a young person to create their own resources and other than following the tips around creating, using, storing and ending of resources – there’s no set rules! One young person could spend weeks or months using and developing their own resource for example a map of a forest with different creatures and monsters which is added to each session. Whereas another young person could create something new each week, one week a picture of their house, the next week a picture of a machine they’re invented which helps them when they’re sad.

Barnardo’s Beacon Project support

When we support young people directly through our therapeutic work, our counselors will use a wide range of person centered ways of working and resources are included in that. Through our consultancy work, Beacon can support professionals who are working directly with young people around what resources and methods maybe best to use.

It’s key to remember that at times as professionals we might not feel equipped or trained to work with what’s revealed by young people, and that’s ok. These activities are more so about creating a space for young people to pause, reflect, and feel relaxed to explore their thoughts and feelings that may otherwise be bottled up; and young people have told us that to experience what it feels like to be heard and cared for in a safe environment was the most important part of their sessions.

To access support from the Barnardo’s Beacon Team, please contact us here

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