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Helpless, Hopeless, and Out of Control: Features of Despair
Child & Youth Services (2008)
  • Ben Anderson-Nathe, Portland State University

Youth workers often pride themselves on the degree to which they share power with clients, encounter clients on their own terms, and allow young people to set the tone for and direct the helping relationship. In their descriptions of not-knowing, however, many youth workers mention acute discomfort at the feeling of control having been stripped away from them rather than willingly surrendered or shared. This chapter describes the second of five themes associated with youth workers' experiences of not knowing what to do: the loss of control and features of despair. In addition to presenting the dominant theme of helplessness and loss of control, this chapter discusses the three variations on the theme, as described by youth worker participants: (a) There was nothing there to protect me, (b) Something else just took control of everything, and (c) What does he have to do, kill someone?!

  • Social work with children -- United States,
  • Social service -- Research -- Methodology
Publication Date
September 7, 2008
Publisher Statement
Copyright (2008) Taylor & Francis
Citation Information
Ben Anderson-Nathe. "Helpless, Hopeless, and Out of Control: Features of Despair" Child & Youth Services Vol. 30 Iss. 1-2 (2008)
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