Book Review: Will Mummy be coming back for me? Shane Dunphy

Hi everyone as a side note this is written on my very old computer using the website not the usual e-mail to post so if there are typing mistakes that’s why
I just finished reading another amazing memoir by childcare worker Shane Dunphy. He works in the social care system in Ireland. He’s done work over the years as a child social worker, teacher in special needs school and sheltered workshop, residential worker and journalist. I highly recommend his books to be used as required reading for any class to do with psychology, social work, ethics ETC. The books provide detailed and compelling cases of children in all kinds of crisis and their families. Shane’s interactions are show in depth not only how he works with the clients but his own inner thoughts and feelings. There’s a lot of internal process around personal involvement self-care and boundaries in the therapy relationship
In this particular book Shane comes face to face with the child he worked with at his first job as a residential key worker. He was just out of college and felt very optomistic about the job. He would be working with five year old Jason. Who had been through many placements before arriving at this residential home. He was physically agressive didn’t speak, wasn’t reliably toilet trained and placements previously had not worked out for these reasons. It was known he’d suffered horible abuse but the details were not known.
Shane was to be Jason’s key worker, that is take on a primary caregiving role with him in the home and advocating outside of it. Through a mix of straightforward gentle compassion, creativity and patience Shane begins to chip away at the behavioral walls that protect Jason from the outside world. The clear details of this unique relationship are heartwarming to see.
While this story of his first job and relationship with such a tough kid is being told, alongside it is his interactions with Jason in the present. Jason has g gone through every program imagined until he’s ended up in juvinele detention for sexual and physical asault. He begs Shane to help. Shane wrestles with the history of their relationship while he tries to salvage some hope for himself and Jason that he could get his life back on track. In the process many coleagues question the wisdom of his involvement in the case. They’re worried about him emotionally and how this is impacting him. As the two stories merge we see the events that put an abrupt ending to such a special relationship both in the past and terribly in the present. This pushes Shane even further into a personal emotional territory of his own guilt though the circumstances are clearly not his fault.
This book doesn’t have a happy ending. Shane’s books are real life stories and so are not crafted with a view for a certain outcome just telling the facts as well as posible. This work is extremely painful often more than it is rewarding. I felt the ending was appropriate and probably reflects so many people’s journey in the care system whether foster parent social worker ETC. You want to think that patience and love can be eenough to turn around such a damaged little person. But so often physical brain damage from trauma family crisis and other circumstances get in the way. The lesson for Shane is in needing to face whatever it is that emotionally pulls him to a place of geting so personally involved in these cases and feeling drained and helpless by the end. These are hard truths many in the field will relate to and so rich for posible discussion and personal reflection. I hope that shane one day goes to a compitent therapist to sort out these issues and if he continues his work to be more self-aware in the future. I believe that I’ve read all his books to date. I look forward to reading new ones.


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