The advantages of helping young people express themselves through talking into a voice recorder
By Renata Taylor-Byrne
Responding to a post by Venkatapathy Subramaniam on LinkedIn:
Friday 6th July 2018
The invaluable thing you are doing in encouraging young people to express themselves (on audio tape), and describe what’s on their minds, is that it is very good as a quick and therapeutic way of relieving stress and getting out any emotional upsets they may have.
If they do this regularly, or even daily, then it will really help their brains-minds. One of the first things I learned on a Diploma in Stress Management that I did many years ago, was that the brain is designed to deal with incoming information.
It can’t do anything (much) with old information, so thoughts and memories can go round and round in our heads, causing confusion; and problems can stay unresolved unless they are expressed verbally or in writing, or through other forms of creative expression. In other words, we need to get all our ideas and challenges and upsets out of our heads so we can then look at them and slowly make sense of them.
Your young people’s self-expression will also boost their immune systems, especially if their self-expression is not restricted by gender stereotyping, either by themselves or the group they are in, or by the adults who are caring for them.
These youths are effectively creating verbal diaries. If they were to extend the exercise and listen to themselves, and reflect and chew over any ideas that they got as a result of listening to themselves (on their audio machines), then this would help them to slowly understand themselves more. They would then begin to develop self-understanding and they could learn from their mistakes and become better at problem-solving and decision-making.
But if they are teenagers, then as we know, the reasoning part of their brain isn’t fully developed until they are about 26 years old. So there is a limit to what they can do, until their pre-frontal cortex is matured in their mid-twenties.
If they are encouraged to write down what they have spoken about, giving a chance to other young people to read and enjoy what they have written, then this could be the beginnings of them appreciating how good it is to read about someone’s honest feelings and how they dealt with what life threw at them.
Not only could this enrich their understanding of others, but it could help in the reduction of the power of their peer groups which have a very tight hold of them when a teenager. They would be strengthened by reading about how youths their own age coped with daily life hassles.
This could lead into reading about youths in other cultures and in different parts of the world, and learning about their favourite role-models, sports or music or TV personalities and how they lived their lives.
These could be the first steps to the beginnings of identifying what they loved in their lives and what they might want to focus on for their future career or job choice.
You probably know all this intuitively, and I’d like to acknowledge you for the work you are doing with young people. With your attention, as a caring adult, you are helping them blossom! Bless you.
Postscript by Jim Byrne: Sunday 8th July 2018
I have just realized – Venkatapathy Subramaniam – that what you told me is that you review those tapes. I had not made the connection that you may well review those tapes in the presence of the individual youth who recorded them. In which case, they do hear what they recorded, and have a chance to discuss it with you; during which conversation, you would have a chance to help them to reflect on their thoughts and feelings, and to make better sense of them! 🙂