Thriving on the Front Lines


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Youth and Family Services (YFS) are part of residential and group homes, schools, social service organizations, hospitals, and family court systems. YFS include prevention, education, positive youth development, foster care, child welfare, and treatment. As YFS has evolved advances in research have brought forth a host of promising new ideas that both complement and expand on the original underpinnings of strengths-based practice. Thriving on the Front Lines represents an articulation of these advancements.

Thriving on the Front Lines explores the use of strengths-based practices with those who are “in the trenches,” Youth Care Worker (YCWs). Commonly referred to as resident counsellors, youth counsellors, psychiatric technicians (psych techs), caseworkers, case managers, and house parents or managers, YCWs are on the “front lines,” often providing services 24 hours a day. Thriving on the Front Lines is an up-to-date treatise on the pivotal role of YCWs and those who work day in and day out with youth to improve their well-being, relationships, and overall quality of life.

Unique aspects of the strengths-based framework provided in Thriving on the Front Lines include:

  • Strengths-based principles informed by five decades of research;
  • Discussion of the importance of using real-time feedback to improve service outcomes and “how to” implement an outcome-orientation;
  • Exploration of Positive Youth Development;
  • Two chapters devoted entirely to strengths-based interventions;
  • An in-depth discussion of how to improve effectiveness through deliberate practice; and,
  • How to develop a strengths-based organizational climate.


  • Preface
  • 1. Fingerprints: Becoming a Difference-maker
  • 2. Foundations: Principles of Strengths-based Youth Care Work
  • 3. Engagement: Creating and Strengthening Relationships
  • 4. Directions: Information-gathering and Planning.
  • 5. Possibilities: Strategies for Changing Views
  • 6. Possibilities, Part 2: Strategies for Changing Action as and Interactions
  • 7. Exchanges: Progress and Transitions
  • 8. Better: Achieving Excellence in Youth and Family Services
  • Appendix A
  • Appendix B
  • References
  • Index

Author Bio:

Bob Bertolino, PhD, is Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Counseling at Maryville University, Missouri, USA, and Senior Clinical Advisor at Youth in Need, Inc. He is also Senior Associate for the International Center for Clinical Excellence (ICCE), and he maintains a private practice and provides consultation and training.