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Ben Anderson-Nathe
Ben Anderson-Nathe

Youth Movement

Ben Anderson-Nathe, associate professor of child and family studies, trains future youth workers to act as counselor, coach, guide, and teacher for young adults. "Rather than trying to cure or fix teens," says Anderson-Nathe, youth workers give them the skills to thrive as adults.

Navigating young adulthood can be difficult even in the best of circumstances. But for young people dealing with legal troubles, living in foster care, or facing homelessness, those years can bring particular challenges. That's where the guidance provided by youth workers comes in.

Youth workers are adult professionals who support and work with teens. They act as counselor, coach, guide, and teacher, “helping young people develop and master skills that support them in becoming what they want for themselves,” says Ben Anderson-Nathe, associate professor of Child, Youth, and Family Studies. This may include coaching and helping young people build the skills they need to get themselves where they’d like to be, and it extends all domains of life: spiritual, family, work, school, and peer relationships.

Through his work at Portland State, Anderson-Nathe is preparing the next generation of youth workers, helping them develop “the skills to see and be with young people in a way that supports them, rather than trying to cure or fix them.” His students work with local organizations like Outside In, Janus Youth Programs, and New Avenues for Youth, acquiring practical experience and contacts in the field.

Although the profession of youth work (combining elements of social work and education) is still emerging in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, and other countries have more established training programs. PSU’s Child, Youth, and Family Studies program is poised to be a U.S. leader, bridging critical youth studies with practical child and youth care (CYC) skills. Anderson-Nathe provides consultation and program support to youth serving non-profit organizations and is co-editor of the journal Child & Youth Services. He writes about ways adults can be present in the lives of children and young adults, and his scholarship also includes a focus on critical theory, racial and economic justice, feminisms, gender, and sexualities.

Obviously proud of the University’s work, Anderson-Nathe says, “We’re helping young people arrive at an accomplished adulthood that they’ve created.”

Curriculum Vitae

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Learn more about Ben Anderson-Nathe, Associate Professor at the School of Social Work.