Working with violent, suicidal and self-destructive adolescents: a hands-on 4-day intensive training

Tuesday – Friday, 24th – 27th March 2020

This course has been postponed and will be re-scheduled at a later date.

Matthew Selekman

Working with high-risk adolescents presenting with explosive and violent behaviours, gang involvement, heavy self-injury and substance abuse, chronic eating-distressed behaviours, multiple suicide attempts, severe DSM diagnoses, and with extensive treatment histories, can be a nightmare for even the most seasoned of individual and family therapists. To further complicate matters, their parents may be grappling with their own mental health or substance abuse impairment and/or serious relationship discord or intense post-divorce conflicts. Additionally, there may be concerned resource people from their social networks and involved highly pessimistic and frustrated representatives from larger systems who do not see eye-to-eye regarding problem formulation, the best level of care and treatment modalities to employ, and with treatment expectations and goals.

In this “hands-on” four-day intensive training, participants will learn how to draw from the best elements from family and individual therapy treatment outcome research and clinical evidence-based practice wisdom to collaboratively tailor-fit with adolescents and their families an individualized treatment approach that best meets their unique needs, preferences, expectations, and goals. By doing so, we can co-author with them compelling solution-determined outcome stories.

The four-day intensive training format will combine information-rich didactic information, extensive use of videotape examples of major therapeutic tools and strategies, skill-building exercises, and live family therapy consultations, which will include key resource people from families’ social networks and involved helping professionals from larger systems.

Training Schedule

Day 1: 10.00am start

From Problem to Solution-Determined Stories with High-Risk Adolescents and their Families: Guidelines for Tailor-Fitting Our Family Therapy Approach to Optimize for Positive Treatment Outcomes
Identifying, Recruiting, and Engaging the Family’s Solution-Determined Collaborative Team
Use of the We Can-If Map for Team Co-Generation of High Quality Solutions
Violent and Gang-Involved Youth: Doing What Works and Wisdom from
Working in the Trenches

11:30 AM   BREAK

11:50 AM   Effective Engagement and Retention Strategies with Reluctant Adolescents and Other Powerful Family and Extended Family Members

1:15 PM      LUNCH BREAK

2:15 PM     Therapeutic Artistry: Use of Self as the Catalyst for Change Skill-Building Exercise

4:00 PM     ADJOURN

Day 2: 10.00am start

Guidelines for Matching What We Do with Adolescents’ Unique Self-Harming Practice Categories and Family Problem-Maintaining Patterns
Co-Designing and Tailor-Fitting Therapeutic Experiments with Family Member’s Unique Strengths, Life Passions, and Learning Styles
Skill-Building Exercise

11:30 AM    BREAK

11:50 AM    The Imaginary Time Machine: From Seizing Past Successes to Co-Creating Compelling Future Realities
Family Rituals for Strengthening Parent/Key Caretaker-Adolescent Bonds
Use of Art Therapy Experiments

1:15 PM       LUNCH BREAK

2:15 PM       Reflections on and Discussion of Pre-Recorded Family Therapy Consultation

4:00 PM       ADJOURN

Day 3: 10.00am start

Calming the Inner Storm and Critic: Empirically Supported Mindfulness and Multi-Sensory Tools and Strategies
Use of Expressive Writing Experiments
Tapping Family Members’ Inventiveness: Idea-Generating Strategies for Empowering the Family to Find their Unique Solutions

11:30 AM   BREAK

11:50 AM     Skill-Building Exercise
Untangling Family-Helping System Knots: Fostering Cooperative Partnerships with Highly Pessimistic, Frustrated, and Pathology-Minded
Larger System Professionals and Extended Family Members
The Suicide Watch and Safety Planning for High-Risk Adolescents

1:15 PM        LUNCH BREAK

2:15 PM        Reflections on and Discussion of Pre-recorded Family-Multi-Systems Consultation

4:00 PM        ADJOURN

Day 4: 10.00am start

Family-Social Network Goal-Maintenance and Relapse Prevention
Tools and Strategies
Creative Uses of Consultation Teams with Colleagues
Skill-Building Exercise

11:30 AM     BREAK

11:50 AM     Participants’ Stuck Case Presentations and Trouble-Shooting Recommendations

1:15 PM        LUNCH BREAK

2:15 PM        Participants’ Stuck Case Presentations and Trouble-Shooting Recommendations

3:30 PM        Training Reflections and Recommendations

4:00 PM        ADJOURN


Matthew is in private practice in both Skokie and Lake Forest IL, USA. He is an Approved Supervisor and Clinical Fellow for the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, a licensed clinical social worker, and addictions counselor. He also is the Director of Partners for Collaborative Solutions (, an international family therapy and brief therapy training and consultation practice. Matthew received the Walter S. Rosenberry Award in 2006, 2000, and in 1999 from The Children’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado for having made significant contributions to the fields of psychiatry and the behavioral sciences. He is the author of eight professional practice-oriented books: Working with High-Risk Adolescents: An Individualized Family Therapy Approach, (with Mark Beyebach) Changing Self-Destructive Habits: Pathways to Solutions with Couples and Families, Collaborative Brief Therapy with Children, (with Giorgio Nardone) Gorging, Vomiting, and Self-Injuring: A Brief Therapy Approach, The Adolescent and Young Adult Self-Harming Treatment Manual: A Collaborative Strengths-Based Brief Therapy Approach, Working with Self-Harming Adolescents: A Collaborative Strengths-Based Therapy Approach, Pathways to Change: Brief Therapy with Difficult Adolescents (Second Edition), and (with Thomas Todd) Family Therapy Approaches with Adolescent Substance Abusers. He has presented workshops on his collaborative strengths-based family therapy approach with children, adolescents, and adults extensively throughout the England, United States, Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe, Turkey, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.

Cost: £500

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