Should I be scared when you say that you love me? Youth Work practice and the power of professional love

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This chapter contributes to an ongoing discourse on the importance of the relationship between practitioner and young person as a defining tenet of effective Youth Work practice. Drawing from practice literature and research into relational practice in other human services, it outlines how relational Youth Work practice infused with professional love can impact profoundly on the lives of the young people.

The rest of the chapter details the responses of one hundred practitioners working in varied contexts in different countries to this proposition. Their views on the legitimacy of this position feature in the discussion, and their voices are foregrounded in the discussion of the prospects and pitfalls of implementing this form of practice. The chapter concludes that – although not without its challenges or detractors – there is a place for professionally loving practice in work young people, particularly those marginalised, excluded and made vulnerable by the inequities of contemporary society.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLove and the Politics of Care
Subtitle of host publicationMethods, Pedagogies, Institutions
EditorsStanislava Dikova, Wendy McMahon, Jordan Savage
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781501387661
ISBN (Print)9781501387647
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2022


  • Professional Love
  • Youth Work
  • Love
  • Care
  • Interdisciplinary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Development
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies
  • General Arts and Humanities


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