The creation of My Path: a method to strengthen relational autonomy for youth with complex needs
Publication of Innovations in Care
I. Bramsen, C.H.Z. Kuiper, C.P. Willemse, M. Cardol, | Article | Publication date: 07 January 2021
Developing autonomy is a pre-requisite for meaningful participation in society. However, youth leaving secure residential youth care (SRYC) relate that treatment does not prepare them well enough to stand on their own feet. Too often these youth are not involved in decisions regarding their own life and future. The original aim of the present study was to develop an instrument for youth leaving SRYC that evaluates the development of autonomy and participation and puts their perspective central. We chose for participatory design-based research. Several design and evaluation cycles were followed using a combination of qualitative research methods. First, the design requirements regarding purpose, form, and content of the instrument were developed in an iterative process with youth and staff. An important result was that the purpose had to be changed. Youth needed a tool supporting the development of autonomy and participation. The tool was designed and called My Path, and invites youth to reflect on what they want with their life and future and to work on this future in small steps. An instruction manual for professionals explains how to put the youth in the lead while they seek and follow their path. A pilot study provided evidence for the usability and trustworthiness of this method to strengthen autonomy and meaningful participation for youth in SRYC. My Path appeared more broadly applicable due to its normalizing approach. In-depth training of professionals is needed to work with My Path while making sure the youth is steadily in the lead.