Clarification: What it is and what it is NOT!

Essentially, clarification happens when a youth examines the events of her past, experiences the feelings related to those events, and attaches meaning to those events.  Clarification is achieved for the present moment in time and from the youth’s perspective.  Clarification is a lengthy process.  For children and youth, progress depends on where the youth is developmentally and cognitively, as well as their readiness to accept information about their history and life Clarification is NOT:

  • The child’s acceptance of someone else’s interpretation of events or insisting that the child has not completed clarification because they do not tell their story as it is told by others
  • Revisiting events of the child’s life that she is not interested in exploring in the present time
  • Making a decision for the child that she does not need the information that she is asking for
  • Convincing the child that the “system’s” plan is the best plan
  • A task that is “once and done”
Remember that clarification is not a process that moves in a straight line, but is more like a windy road that sometimes circles back on itself.  Through clarification-learning the facts and getting a better understanding of what happened when she was younger, a youth can better understand the events of her life, develop a more accurate self-identity, and reconcile the losses experienced as a result.  As they learn more and remember more about their past experiences, and if they are supported and allowed to safely express painful feelings-love, anger and hatred for others, fears, mistrust, and despair-they will begin to experience the emotions of grief.  When this is done repeatedly, in the presence of a person who is truly listening, the youth will begin to feel safe and eventually develop a sense of trust in that relationship. By listening to, accepting, and simply being with them as they experience their grief, the attachment cycle process is completed and the relationship is strengthened.
We support the work of Clarification when we allow the youth to tell their story and stop trying to write the ending!
See more from our March 2016 Newsletter with this LINK.
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