This study tests the hypothesis of vulnerability in health and social care professionals dealing with difficult adolescents. This vulnerability appears to be underpinned by an occupational identity crisis that seems to diminish the ability of these professionals to recognize the suffering of these adolescents. A questionnaire was developed and then distributed during a network day bringing together members of various institutions and bodies working with difficult adolescents. Ninety-three professionals responded. Occupational identity weaknesses were identified: inadequate basic training, experiences of solitude, feelings of powerlessness and exposure, inadequate personal and institutional resources. Actors involved express their need for inter-institutional and inter-sectoral network but find it uneasy to implement. Some changes can be recommended to reduce this occupational identity crisis: increased efforts towards continuing training, development of possibilities of reflection within institutions, and more structured partnerships and actions.

Key words: Difficult adolescents, occupational Identity crisis, professionals’ vulnerability, children welfare
services, inter-sectorial network.

S. Saint-André, P. Planche, A. Gourbil, M. Botbol (page 44) - Full article