‘What I really needed was a voice’: The psychosocial needs of youth in family foster care and the impact of traumatic experiences

Annemarie Theodora Steenbakkers

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

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Youth who grow up in family foster care often have experienced severe life events, such as physical abuse, neglect, substance abusing parents or sexual abuse. In this dissertation, adolescents and young adults were asked how they themselves viewed the impact of this on their lives and psychosocial needs.

Youth report many negative consequences of their past. Consequences they experience, such as depressive or angry feelings and relational problems, align with what is known about (childhood) traumas. Besides the negative impact, youth also mention how their past can lead to positive change, for example how it makes them stronger or more caring.

Youth find it difficult to deal with the negative consequences, they can be withdrawn or short-tempered. They want to understand what happened to them; they want a complete story. Conversations about this with foster parents, care workers or therapists are never easy, but it helps when they show an interest and a trusting relationship has been build. Before they want to share their story, youth want to develop adequate conversation skills, and they do not want to get overwhelmed by their emotions. Forcing youth to talk is counterproductive.

There are other ways to meet the needs of youth besides talking. However, there are big differences between youth: where some focus on processing the past, others prefer to look toward the future. Foster parents and care workers do not always have the same ideas on this matter as youth themselves, highlighting the importance of youth participation in foster care.
Translated title of the contribution'Wat ik echt nodig had, was een stem': De psychosociale behoeften van jongeren die in pleeggezinnen wonen en de impact van traumatische gebeurtenissen
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Grietens, Hans, Supervisor
  • van der Steen, Steffie, Co-supervisor
  • Ellingsen, I.T., Co-supervisor, External person
Award date17-May-2018
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Print ISBNs978-94-034-0563-6
Electronic ISBNs978-94-034-0564-3
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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