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Nathan has difficulty trusting adults but slowly starts to open up

It was Nathan’s second stay with us here in the Crisis Program. Nathan’s first stay was only a few days long, so the staff did not get an opportunity to get to know him well nor did he have much time to build a relationship with staff. Nathan’s second stay had not gotten off on the best foot, as he was struggling with being open to staff and communicating in a respectful manner. Our team worked hard to build a relationship with Nathan and learn more about his background. Staff discovered that Nathan had lived independently from an early age, and he had very little family support to rely on. Nathan was used to fending for himself and not being able to rely on adults in his life for support.

One morning, staff were trying to help Nathan address some outstanding tasks when he became frustrated with the conversation and started yelling, swearing and then walked out of the building. When he returned I met with Nathan to see what was going on for him. Nathan said he was struggling with letting go of his independence, and said he had difficulty relying on staff to help him. I explained that staff are here to support him and provide guidance with the goal of helping him return to independence. While Nathan was reluctant to see staff from that perspective, he agreed he would put in an effort to be more respectful. Nathan expressed it was difficult to trust people he does not know.

Later in the evening when I was finishing up some paperwork, Nathan came into the office and sat down. Nathan started making small talk, laughing and joking with me – something we had yet to see from him. Since that initial conversation, I have noticed that Nathan has started opening up with staff. For some of our youth, the staff at Covenant House are the first adults they’ve been able to trust in a long time. It can often be difficult for them to connect with staff, as they have built walls in their lives to protect themselves due to past experiences. It’s our job as staff to support youth unconditionally, and to recognize that asking for help requires trust and a lot of courage.

Shared by Ashley, Youth Worker at our Crisis Program