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Book Review - The Residential Youth Care Worker in Action
A Collaborative, Competency-Based Approach

By: Bob Bertolino, PhD & Kevin Thompson, MEd


Disclaimer: This book review is my opinion of the book. If you have a different opinion of the book that is great. I know I have loved several movies and books that other reviewers have not liked and disliked movies and books that receive great reviews. I think we all have. If you would like to submit your own review, I may consider posting it. Otherwise feel free to share you reviews on the Forum. Thanks.


I believe the main point of this book is to get Residential Youth Care Workers (RYCW) to move from the traditional "Deficit-based" (What is wrong with the child) approach when dealing with the youth in their care to a more "Collaborative, Competency-based" (What is right with the child) approach to help the child change their behavior.  It has some very good information and techniques that we can use to help the children in our care.  For me it was somewhat of an affirmation of what we are already doing.  If you find yourself often dealing with children from a negative perspective, you may find this book very helpful. 


Topics covered include: The Many Faces of Residential Youth Care Workers, From Impossibility to Possibility, Creating a Respectful Context and Climate for Change, Altering Problematic Patterns of Viewing, Managing Crisis with an Eye on Possibilities, etc.


My biggest issue with the book is the use of the acronym "RYCW" which stands for Residential Youth Care Worker.  In the first chapter I counted 50 times where the acronym was used.  Acronyms are good for writers but can be very burdensome on readers, especially when they cannot be sounded into a word as in this case.  By the third chapter every time I saw RYCW I would mentally translate it to houseparent.  This seemed to make it flow much better as I read.  You could use houseparent, counselor, youth worker, or what ever fits in your case.  As I was writing this I realized you could probably pronounce the acronym "Rick" because of the first three letters "RYC" and just make the "W" silent.  Wouldn't it be funny if that stuck.  I'd have to change the name of the website to "The Rick Network".


The only other issue I have is that it was clearly written by a PhD.  To me the writing style at times was very textbooky (if textbooky can be a word), although I guess that is what it is: a textbook to teach a Collaborative, Competency-based Approach.  There were times I had to force myself to pick up the book and read it.


Would I recommend the book? Yes, though it would not be at the top of my read list.  Read the book if:

  1. You are a new worker, or thinking of entering the field.  This would be a good resource to get you started in a more positive way of thinking.  However, I think you should read Respecting Residential Work with Children by James R. Harris Jr., M.A. first.
  2. You are finding yourself often looking at situations from a negative perspective.  This book might help you gain some techniques that will help you focus on the positive.
  3. You are an experienced worker and have read the other material that is available.  In that case read this; you will surely glean some useful information that will help you help the youth you work with.

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