Youth Coaching: Helping young people make future choices
Life coaching with young people can be a powerful tool: it can provide a safe space for young people to explore their thoughts. A safe space with a professional who is there to support, without an agenda or expectations that could have previously clouded a thought or judgement.
A common question from others is ‘what can life coaching do for young people?’A variety of topics and health concerns are the answers, mot commonly but not limited to:
- Stress management
- Making choices about their future
A common topic that can really help with young person’s development is career and further education coaching: a career path after GCSEs or deciding whether further education is for them. It’s recognised that it’s vitally important for young people to develop an understanding of their own identity, what they really want to do – not what is expected of them by others.
Young people can often be heard to say phrases like ‘I should’ or ‘Everyone expects me to’ rather than ‘I really want to’ or ‘It is really important to me’. Life coaching can give a young person a reality check, so that they can confidently explore all the exciting opportunities available to them in today’s society.
Theories of adolescent development in the late teens (key stage 4 & 5) highlight the importance of ‘identity formation’. The theories identify that young people need to develop an understanding of themselves and their own identity, what is important to them (principles, values, beliefs, interests) and use this as a basis to make choices about their future.
There are two well known theories:
Common to both theories, is the importance to ensure young people explore what is important to them and what makes them ‘tick’. To enable this to happen in a healthy way, young people need the opportunity to explore their dream future for themselves. It is possible that adolescents can be forced into a career direction, can believe they have no choice or simply not have thought about the decision as outlined in Marcia’s Life Stages (1966; 1993). If young people do not discover their ‘dream’ they are unlikely to achieve their potential, and may experience difficulties (relationship breakdown with caregivers, educational underperformance, mental health issues).
Therefore it can be argued that there are three key ingredients for young people to make the right choices for their future:
- Developing a clear understanding of self (talents, strengths, beliefs, values)
- Exploration of a range of options available to them (e.g. further study, apprenticeships, entrepreneurial, gap year, volunteering)
- Making a plan with their dreams at the heart of it, that is both realistic and exciting.
If these key aspects are all present, young people are more likely to feel motivated, excited, and focussed to achieve their best, which in turn will result in a successful outcome for them.
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