Working with young people: Roles and responsibilities
Working with young people: Roles and responsibilities

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

Working with young people: Roles and responsibilities

1.3.2 The ‘Emotional worker’

Description: This is not a worker who is constantly overwhelmed by their emotions – though expressing emotions does have its place. It means being able to acknowledge and work with the strong emotions in ourselves and the young people we are involved with. Young people are a complex mix of emotions – sometimes angry, disappointed, wretched, but also excited and joyful. ‘Doing emotional work’ (Fineman, 2000) means being prepared to work with the young people's emotions in individual and group settings rather than avoid them. Goleman (1996) contends that ‘emotional work’ develops qualities such as optimism and resilience on the part of the individual and the ‘emotional worker’.

Issues: In many work settings, emotions are seen as private, or perhaps messy and inconvenient. Certainly, this tends to be the case in schools where handling the feelings of large numbers of people in an enclosed space is challenging, potentially disruptive to the teacher's main aims and therefore often suppressed. It is also true in many families. Intense expressions of emotion are sometimes too much for adults to cope with, and in the wider community the expression of strong feelings by young people, whether anger or boisterousness, can be frightening or viewed as unacceptable.

What is sometimes referred to as ‘emotional literacy’ is the ability to register and take account of the strong feelings that young people have. In order to achieve this, workers need to develop an ability to deal with strong feelings in others, and this means being comfortable with their own feelings. In other words, being able to ‘recognise what I am feeling so that it doesn't interfere with my thinking’ (Orbach, 1999).


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus