A Day in the Life of a Youth Counselor

August 7, 2017

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a youth counselor at UMFS? Youth counselors play a crucial role in the lives of the youth in the UMFS Child & Family Healing Center. CFHC is a 24-hour intensive residential treatment center, working with children who are struggling with behavioral, emotional, or developmental challenges or autism and other neurological differences. Through family-focused and youth guided treatment plans, CFHC puts kids on the road to academic, emotional, and social success.

We asked youth counselor Pierre Hall to share a day in his life, from the time he arrives at 2pm to when he leaves at 11pm. Here is his story.


It’s hard to describe the role of a youth counselor because it encompasses a lot. I’ll do my best to highlight the victories and challenges I face each day.

2:00pm – Once I arrive on campus to begin my shift, I get settled into the cottage and check a few emails. I print off the daily schedule and work with my shift partner to plan our evening with the youth. We then inspect each room in the cottage for cleanliness and other unwanted items or materials.

2:25pm – I head over to the school to pick up the medication book and do a medication count with the nurse. Once I’m done with the medication, I travel over to the school auditorium to receive a verbal changeover about the youths’ day from the behavioral specialist. Once I have received the change-over, the youth are released to the cottage. My work day has officially begun!

I greet everyone, then transition to the cottage along with my shift partner. Once in the cottage we sit everyone down to do check-ins, which is an activity that allows each person to reflect and share their perspective on how their day went. After conducting check-ins, we give everyone a healthy snack and begin our activities.

3:30pm – Depending on the day of the week our first activity could include rec therapy, group therapy, or a planned psycho-educational group to build upon our youths’ social and cognitive functioning. Because I work with a younger group of males whose attention spans are somewhat limited, I need to find creative ways to engage them. Since everyone likes to laugh every now and again, humor is my best friend.

4:30pm – Once we are done with the first activity we move into our next, which could include a trip to the front field to play a game of soccer or handball. We spend about 30 to 45 minutes with this activity then we transition back inside the cottage for refreshments.

5:15pm – Either my shift partner or I began to cook dinner. I must say I would not have considered myself much of a chef until I had to prepare meals for the youth at work. While dinner is prepared, the youth are encouraged to engage in individual or group activities, which may include playing chess or other boards games, or simply reading a good book. This time is for the youth to practice their coping skills and build their relationships with one another. Once dinner is ready, we have a marvelous feast.

6:45pm – After dinner, the youth begin their chores. Chores are scheduled to help them build independent living skills. If I have a youth who struggles with a certain task, I often offer my assistance and model the proper way to do it. After chores, everyone is seated for a medication pass and afterwards we ask if they would like to make a phone call to family or friends.

7:15pm – Depending on the type of day we had with our youth we might begin bedtime hygiene routines. That’s on an ideal day. If they are exhibiting a bit of anxiety or hyper-activity we plan a physical activity so they can burn off the remainder of their energy. After about 30 minutes, we return to the cottage.

8:00pm – The youth receive an evening snack.

8:30pm – Everyone gathers their personal belongings, stores them away, and heads to their rooms.

9:00pm – On a good night, the youth are quietly snug in their beds at 9:00pm and my shift partner and I begin our paper work which includes daily treatment interventions, a written changeover, and an end of shift checklist. We do our paper work while simultaneously doing room checks every 10 to 15 minutes.

11:00pm – The next shift change occurs. At shift change we provide the incoming staff with a verbal changeover about the group dynamics throughout the day. Another medication count is done and the end of shift walk down is reviewed for any discrepancies.

My work day is now officially completed! I head home and rest to prepare myself for another eventful day.

Click here to apply for youth counselor positions at UMFS.