Youth Cooperation and Coping
Center for Health Promotion – Akershus University Hospital
Pilot project 2013-2014
The pilot project Youth Cooperation and Coping was locally organized, implemented and evaluated by Akershus University Hospital (Ahus) at the Center for Health Promotion in 2013-2014. This pilot site had long research-based experience in conducting groups for adolescents. The project involved implementing educational group-based counseling programs in three groups: 1) adolescents from 12-16 years of age with long-term health problems, 2) young adults from 17-26 years of age with long-term health problems, 3) their parents/relatives. The primary objective of the pilot project was to was to implement and examine a program that, if successful, could encourage the start-up of several group initiatives. In the past there were few options for group-based services, (independent of one’s diagnosis), particularly for youth. We wanted to reach more adolescents and young adults with a health promoting measure that could provide them with better opportunities to live with their long-term health problems.
Films with testimonials from past group participants
In this film, the adolescents share their experiences being young and having long-term health problems. They point out their long and difficult process of acknowledging and accepting their diagnosis and being sick. Encouraging comments by healthcare professionals often made them feel more sick. They perceived this as not being taken seriously and rather felt weak and helpless. However, they felt strong when they were respected. The adolescents also discuss how important their parents are to them. We believe this is an important reminder when it comes to preparing our youth for the transition into adulthood.
In this film, the adolescents describe how important they felt it was to meet and speak directly with one another, even though they were a little skeptical at first. They felt it was important to connect with each other and hear other group members’ experiences, even though they had different diagnoses. When they had not talked about things previously, it was often because they were not able to articulate their thoughts or feelings!
In this film, the adolescents share some of their experiences with what happened in the groups. They point out how important it was that the group leaders didn’t have the “answers,” but rather helped them better articulate their thoughts and feelings through various exercises and self-reflection. They also highlight the need to be able to articulate how they experienced their situation, and that it was important to be able to express “painful” things. The purpose was not to dwell on the problem, but rather talk about it, and have it validated so it didn’t grow and weigh on them. This allowed them to find more room for positive things.
In this film, the adolescents describe what changes they have made in their own lives after participating in the group. The sessions not only fostered great connections and experiences then and there, but participants also discovered important things that enabled them to live their lives in a new and better way after the program. They describe specific changes such as: arranging private tutoring in school (which is crucial for the future), better communication with parents and seeing their illness as less negative then they did previously. They are able to take better care of themselves because they have accepted their diagnosis. They now thrive, see a brighter future and have many plans.
Group session outline
Primary goal of group intervention
That participants have the opportunity to discover more about themselves and their situation. That they are able to use their own inherent resources in a more targeted way, allowing them to see new opportunities and find better ways to navigate life. This is a process, in which new discoveries provide a basis for greater selfunderstanding. Furthermore, increasing one’s own self-understanding can lead to better relationships, communication and increased participation.