Reflections from the IASYM Conference
I just got back to Canada from attending the International Association for Youth Ministry's international conference in the UK. It was such a great experience, and I am very grateful as I was given the opportunity to present some of my work on providing spiritual care to sexual and gender minority youth (SGMY) who self-injure. Everyone who attended the session very welcoming and friendly and supportive of my work.
I was also challenged to reflect upon SI as it relates to an international context. How quickly can youth access therapy in different countries? How do different cultures treat SGMY? How can youth workers stand in the "gap" that exists between the young person coming and talking to them about their self-injury, and the long wait times that exist to access therapy? What specifically do pastors and youth workers have to offer young people who self-injure? What is our scope of practice, and how can we practically "be there" for young people, while also acknowledging our own boundaries and limitations regarding offering help? How can faith communities come alongside youth who self-injure (in order to widen the circle of care?)
These questions will be the ones that I ponder over the coming months while I continue my research (and study for my upcoming exams!). More thoughts and reflections to come soon.