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"I've Got a Problem, Scouter.

May We Talk?"

by Ian Mitchell - The Leader - Venturer Log - November 1996

Well, it finally happened.

When you were recruited as a new Venturer advisor, someone warned you the day might arrive. Now it has; a company member has come to you with a real-life problem.

Of course, at first you might want to send the young adult to his or her family to discuss it. What should you do? What should you say?

The Facts

Venturers are experiencing a time of life when they must make many hard, lasting decisions. Family members, religious and youth leaders, and peer groups influence these decisions. As a Venturer advisor you may find yourself in the position of having to counsel a youth through a difficult time. If you prepare for this time before it occurs, you'll be more helpful to those in need.

No one expects you to provide professional counselling advice or take the place of a parent. But, if a youth or adult member trusts you enough to share some personal concern, here are a few ideas to guide your thinking.

Counselling Suggestions

  1. Select a time to talk when you don't have to worry about interuptions; but don't delay the conversation. Put aside less important tasks, immediately, if necessary. Show the troubled Venturer that you consider his concern important enough to change your schedule.
  2. Listen to what the person is saying or asking. Attentive listening shows care and respect. This will encourage the youth and open the lines of communication further. Don't be afraid to ask a few questions to clarify any thoughts you don't understand.
  3. Occasionally, ask how the youth feels about the experience or concern. This may help you understand and identify the values forming within the person.
  4. Be alert to any problems which may (or may not) be conveyed. Often youth are unaware of potential trouble lying just under the surface.
  5. Share something of yourself -- some of your feelings relating to the situation. Ask the Venturer what he would do if he was in your place. Never laugh, no matter what the response. Laughter might convey a sense of ridicule, and could end the conversation. Instead, think about the reply for a minute and then express appreciation for it. This type of response sends a clear message of respect and shows you are ready to help.

Positive Growth

Though family members are vital, a time comes in teenage years when other adults can make a positive contribution to the growth and development of a young person. In some cases, a Venturer advisor may assume a role as important as a parent's when handling tricky life problems. Many parents will recognize and encourage this role.

Your community offers many youth-oriented counselling resources. If a Venturer doesn't find family members helpful, others can ease the difficulty or offer advice. These include;

Final Thoughts

Take enough time before answering to allow your own decision-making process to sift all avenues. Ask yourself:

Whatever the choice, always err on the side of safety. This might not win you any popularity medals, but in the end you'll know you made the right decision.

"Reproduced with permission of the Leader magazine and the author."

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