Important Considerations On Working With Youth

Working across generations

Understanding trauma and trauma informed care

Other Resources and weblinks

A true partnership is one in which each party has the opportunity to make suggestions and decisions and in which the contribution of each is recognized and valued.

How to Engage Generation Z? 

  • Engage them by inspiring mutual learning 
  • Model professionalism & empathy
  • Use teamwork efforts, whenever possible
  • Encourage peer review from other interns
  • Keep an open mind
  • Coach them and allow them to coach you or provide feedback
  • Challenge them! Give them duties with meaning and explain how it fits into larger scheme. 
  • Provide Zs with opportunities to “lead from where they are”
  • Allow use of technology to develop solutions or create new ideas
  • Remain consistent with Exploration Guidelines and County Policies

Working with Youth of Color

In theory, mentoring relationships with caring adults can be supportive to youth of color in a variety of ways, as noted in the 2014 Handbook of Youth Mentoring’s chapter on race, ethnicity, and culture in mentoring relationships by: 

  • Helping build positive racial and ethnic identity ⎯ this may be especially critical for youth from groups that have faced considerable discrimination or exploitation.
  • Helping to offset the impact of oppression or systemic racism. Mentors may be instrumental in helping youth understand or overcome societal barriers to their successes.
  • Helping to increase social capital and exposure to different cultures or institutions ⎯ mentors can expose youth of color to new networks of adults and new opportunities within and outside their communities.

Building Effective Youth & Adult Partnerships



Trauma can be defined as an event that falls outside the range of usual human experience that causes distress. Trauma can be either human-made or from natural causes.


All children are impacted by a traumatic event; however, not all children are traumatized. Children are resilient and they just need the opportunity to strengthen that resilience through the help of people like you. - Rebecca Sargent Brown, LCSW




Big T and Little t


  • Exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence via experiencing, witnessing, or learning it has happened to a loved one.
  • War, community violence, victimized by crime, witnessing violence in the home, natural disasters, car crashes, sexual abuse, rape, & physical/mental abuses. 


  • Emotionally disturbing or distressing.
  • Not life threatening to yourself or to someone else involved in the trauma, however it is still scary, unsettling, traumatic, or upsetting.

Trauma is coined by some as an “Invisible Backpack of Beliefs” about one’s self, adults who care for them and about the world. This can affect how a child feels, behaves, and thinks. Your time with an intern may help them re-pack their backpack with positive experiences and beliefs. As a preceptor, you must promote resilience, safety, and empowerment using some of the following principals.  

Key Principals of Informed Care Practices


  • Avoidance of re-traumatization (be aware of power dynamic, how your mood and behavior are impacting students you mentor)
  • Clear boundaries and expectations
  • Informing about what happens next, plans (avoiding surprises)         

Trustworthiness and Transparency

  • Goal of establishing and maintaining trust
  • Explain what, why, and how
  • Keep your word. Follow through on what you say you are going to do
  • If something needs to change, own that and explain it
  • Be honest and open (whenever appropriate; do not speak badly of employees, leadership)
  • Demonstrate taking responsibility 

Collaboration and Mutuality

  • When possible, level the power difference
  • Approach the interns with a sense of working together rather than them working for you (doing with rather than doing to)
  • Ask for input
  • Recognize and acknowledge the interns’ strengths and utilize them

Empowerment and Skill Building

  • Offer real choices
  • Allow room for interns to voice their goals, concerns
  • Teach emotional intelligence
  • Model collaborative decision making/problem solving and conflict management
  • Cultivate self-advocacy skills
  • Focus on strengths, not deficits 

Focus on Relationships

  • Healing from trauma often happens in relationships
  • Be conscious of what you might represent to the intern and what you could represent
  • Your relationship with an intern could make all the difference in his/her life
  • Model and teach how to operate in a healthy professional relationship


  • Approach students with empathy
  • Consider problematic behavior as a product of trauma rather than intentional defiance/opposition
  • Young people do well if they can (skill rather than will)
  • Interactions that are harsh, impersonal, humiliating, disrespectful, judgmental, demanding, or overly critical HURT (TRAUMA TRIGGERS)
  • Interactions that express kindness, patience, reassurance, calm, and acceptance HELP

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE)

There are 10 types of childhood trauma measured in the ACE Study. Five are personal — physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect. An ACE score is meant as a guideline: If you experienced other types of toxic stress over months or years, then those would likely increase your risk of health consequences. However, the building of resilience can act as a counter-balancing factor. If an intern has dealt with trauma and/or traumatic incidents, your support and assistance will help them build resilience and confidence.