Do You Have the Right Personality to Be a Therapeutic Care Worker?
Caring for children who have experienced very difficult starts to their lives (and/or working with young adults with mental health problems) is not a job for everyone. Of course, you need empathy and compassion. All of our staff are dedicated, caring individuals. But simply being a caring person is not enough. Exposure to trauma, abuse and neglect, especially when very young, has a significant and enduring effect on development, behaviour and even intellectual capacity. It becomes very difficult for them to trust people, especially those in authority. Having the confidence and social skills to make friends can also be very challenging. The scars a troubled childhood leaves are often only visible when you try to get close. They are often fearful and rejecting of being cared for, preferring to keep people at a distance by behaving in difficult and even abusive ways. Rather than risk further hurt and abandonment, they tend to ‘get their rejection in first’. Thus, to successfully help them begin the long process of recovery, requires much more than a sympathetic ear. These troubled and damaged children need very special types of people indeed. Working with children at Genesis cte is a team effort, involving lots of different professionals. Carers (we call them Therapeutic Care Workers) have a central role, but they aren’t on their own. There are psychologists, teachers, social workers and others who all contribute. To work as a successful part of this multi-disciplinary team, we need team players.
To be a successful member of a team that provides the child with a consistently positive experience, you should be a generally agreeable person; the sort of person who prefers compromise to conflict; the sort of person who finds it easy to put others at ease. You need to be interested in people generally, and to be aware of, and sensitive to others’ feelings and emotions.
Sometimes our children find it very difficult to manage their feelings. They can be easily upset, and even lash out, verbally and physically, at others (especially those who are closest to them). They can say and do very hurtful things. They can even harm themselves, sometimes seriously. It can be very challenging for some people not to take such behaviour personally. Yet we need people who are totally non-judgemental; who can always give children the opportunity for a fresh start, whatever they may have said and done. If you are the type of person who sometimes finds it difficult to forgive, or who holds grudges, then unfortunately you are probably not suited to this work.
Working with the highly vulnerable with traumatic histories and disturbance can be extremely stressful and upsetting. The most successful staff tend to be people who are naturally calm and unflustered, whatever is going on around them. If you are a born worrier who frets about even minor things, working at Genesis cte may be too much of a challenge. We also find those people who have stable, predictable moods, and who don’t tend to get easily annoyed or distressed tend to form the most successful relationships with the children and young adults, as well as with their colleagues.
Helping the most challenging children and young adults is not a straightforward task. It can’t be done by relying on intuition or ‘gut responses’. Approaches have to be carefully thought out and planned, requiring imagination and the ability to ‘think out of the box’. Sometimes it is complex, and requires the ability to grasp abstract ideas. Not being confident enough to contribute to professional discussions is going to put you at a disadvantage. People who like the sound of their own voice too much, may also struggle. We need people who can listen as well as speak.
This is a profession in which the primary tool is your personality. Therefore, this job can be hard for people who are very sensitive, defensive and find even constructive criticism difficult to cope with. Rather, we need open, self-reflective people who want to grow not merely professionally, but as a person too. This means you need to be very self-aware, be able to examine your own motivations, strengths, weaknesses and have a very good grip on what presses your particular buttons.
Like all jobs, there are elements of routine. There are notes to be written, meetings to attend, budgets to be counted and the chores of daily life to be completed. While we need imaginative and creative individuals, they also need to have both feet on the ground. We need people who can finish, as well as start tasks. We don’t need obsessive people, who thrive only on predictable routine. Neither do we need people who can’t stick to a schedule, manage details or are messy and chaotic
Respectful, Kind & Considerate?
Children need to learn many, many things as they grow. Of course, they need to develop academic and technical skills. But their most important lesson is how to get on with other people. In this respect, most of our children are at a disadvantage. The troubled start to their lives makes trusting other people a serious challenge. This is why we put so much emphasis on recruiting people who can ‘role model’ positive ways of doing relationships. The children and young adults need to experience people who are not only respectful, kind, considerate to them, but respectful, kind and considerate to everyone. They need to be around people who are never too proud to apologise when they get things wrong. They learn to take responsibility for their own behaviour, when they see people they like and respect doing the same thing.
It is also essential our children have the chance to get to know people from diverse backgrounds. If we want them to value people for who they are, and not judge them based on their ethnic and cultural heritage, their gender, their sexual orientation, their age or because of any disability they may have. It is of enormous advantage to the children if they have the chance to experience being cared for by all of these people. This is why it is so important for us to recruit people from all sorts of backgrounds, and why we would strongly encourage diverse groups of people to apply. Indeed, to help us better balance our staff group we are particularly looking for older people, and people with disabilities.
Keen to Learn?
Of course, to work successfully with children with troubled backgrounds requires the development of specialist skills and knowledge. However, we can and do provide extensive training. If you are open and enthused about learning new things, and taking on board new ideas you will quickly start to develop the necessary specialist skills. But what we cannot do is change people’s personalities. For this reason, we place great emphasis in recruitment in looking for the right kind of people rather than finding out what people have historically done, what qualifications they may have or how good at answering questions about hypothetical situations they may be. It doesn’t matter if you’re old or young, highly educated or left school at 16; whether you have 15 years’ relevant experience or are motivated to embark on a complete career change and enter this work for the first time; what matters most to us, is what you are like as a person.
The Right Kind of Person?
So, if you think you might be the type of person we’ve described above we’d really love to hear from you. Don’t worry about how good or not you think your CV is. It’s you as a person we’re interested in.
Could You Be A Therapeutic Care Worker?
Our ideal candidate is:
- A non-judgemental, imaginative and creative thinker.
- An empathetic, people person. Calm, reflective and flexible.
- A genuine team player, keen to develop skills and knowledge that makes a real difference.
- A safe and inspiring role model for children and young people from traumatic backgrounds.
- Not put off by shift work and is dedicated and committed with a “can do” attitude.
- Is seeking specialist training and supervision based firmly upon attachment theory, dyadic developmental therapy and therapeutic parenting.
- Is looking for a role with development opportunities and career growth in a young, but fast growing, company.
- The holder of a full driving license.
For the right candidate we’ll provide:
- The opportunity to change the lives of some great children and young people.
- Effective training from induction through to QCF and beyond; with specialist in house support and training partners.
- Career progression and personal development.
- Excellent leadership, support and guidance from leaders in their field.
- A safe and well governed service that values its staff and children alike.
- Performance related pay scheme.
- Company pension scheme.
- Overtime at time and a third.
- Assisted childcare scheme.
- Generous Paid sick leave.
- Free meals and refreshments when on duty.
- Dedicated QCF Study Time.
- Free Onsite Parking.
- Paid DBS
- Comprehensive Two Week Induction Programme.