Working with Violent, Suicidal and Self-Destructive Adolescents: A Collaborative Strengths-based Therapy Approach

Working with Violent, Suicidal and Self-Destructive Adolescents: A Collaborative Strengths-based Therapy Approach



Event Details

 CCMH_LI_Logo_blues_on_white Leading the way in Mental Health Training and Education for Professionals

Workshop Overview: 

Dates: March 9 and 10th 2020

Facilitator: Matthew D. Selekman, MSW., LCSW

This training is suitable for: Educators and Social Workers 


Description:  Adolescents presenting with explosive and violent, highly oppositional, school disruptive, serious eating-distressed, heavy substance abuse and self-injury, and delinquent behaviors can be a nightmare to work with even for the most seasoned of therapists. Often, these youth come from families characterized by emotional disconnection, invalidation, and other destructive interactions. The adolescents’ extreme and provocative behaviors attract helping professionals and concerned members from their social networks like a magnet. To further complicate matters, the larger systems professionals often are divided regarding their problem explanations and what the best treatment approach and level of care setting is for the adolescents. How we optimize for treatment success is to combine what works from family therapy science with evidence-based practice wisdom. 

In this “hands-on,” practice-oriented workshop, participants will learn how to tailor fit and individualize their therapy approach to honor the client’s and family members’ unique preferences, theories of change, and optimize for their goal attainment. As a result of attending this workshop, participants will come away with the following practical tools and strategies: 

  • Identify pathways to high-risk adolescent problem-determined systems: How they develop, are perpetuated, and can be co-authored into solution-determined stories
  • Keys to building strong working alliances with even the most resistant high-risk children and adolescents and their families
  • Use key empirically supported family research findings and evidence-based practice wisdom to inform your clinical decision-making
  • Identify, recruit, and use of solution-determined collaborative teams comprised of key resource people from the family’s social network to co-construct high quality solutions
  • Use of self to create therapeutic breakthroughs with challenging adolescents and their families
  • Use therapeutic questions to elicit client expertise, established well-formed treatment goals, uncover secrets, and to co-create compelling future realities
  • Co-design, select, and tailor-fit therapeutic interventions to empower the children and adolescents and their families to achieve their goals
  • Engage and foster cooperative partnerships with angry, highly pessimistic, laissez-faire, and mental health and substance abuse impaired parents
  • Use mindfulness practices to aid adolescents in emotional distress tolerance and to help prevent acting out episodes
  • Use effective family-social network relapse prevention tools and strategies
  • Keys to fostering cooperative partnerships with helping professionals from larger systems
  • Use of one-person family therapy with either the individual adolescent or most concerned parent when other family members are reluctant to participate

The workshop format will combine information-rich didactic presentation, extensive use of videotape examples, and skill-building exercises.


  • When

  • Monday, March 9, 2020 - Tuesday, March 10, 2020
    9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
    Eastern Time

  • Where

  • SickKids Centre for Community Mental Health Learning Institute
    114 Maitland Street
    Toronto, Ontario M4Y 1E1

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