As you know, the 3-5-7 Model© includes three tasks; Clarification and Integration, moving toward Actualization. Recently, I have been focusing on understanding the integration work that our youth do-the work that is all about the important people in their lives, people they (not us) consider important.
When our youth explore "What happened to me" and "Where am I going", they are learning the answers to these questions: Who is going to be there for me? Who is going to support me in my growth? Who is going to meet my needs? Our youth are searching for safety in a relationship-some sense of being safe with a person who they can begin to trust and who they can rely on to meet their needs. Through this integration process, youth move toward those who will be their permanent relationships, making sense out of the events of their lives along the way (in this way we can think about Clarification and Integration as being interwoven).
All too often, professionals have made the decisions about the youth's relationships for them, and then have worked to "help the youth understand" why those decisions have been made. Practicing in this way does not honor the resiliency of our youth, and fails to recognize the true power of the 3-5-7 Model© approach. It is their work to do.
As you engage youth in activities to explore the people who they value and are important to them, but can't live with, the intense work of integration helps them understand the possibility of reunifying with birth parents or moving forward with extended family members or an adoptive family. They make these decisions themselves; they can visualize permanency in a new relationship and are in readiness to move toward Actualization.
As we enter the holiday season, my hope for you is that you have many opportunities to spend time with those whom you feel safe with-those who meet your needs and provide you with a sense of belongingness.