Full Day Workshops

I offer these full day workshops for mental health counselors and other professional helpers:

  • Getting Unstuck:  Treating Teens with Co-occurring Disorders
  • Beyond the Stuckness:  Teens, Trauma & Substance Use Disorders
  • Rainbow Youth:  Clinical & Ethical Considerations When Treating LGBTQ+ Teens
  • Behind the Mask:  Depression in Adolescent Males
  • Mindfulness with Teens:  Practical Strategies for Increasing Presence, Intention & Non-Judgment

Descriptions can be found below. Full day workshops typically run eight hours, which includes an hour-long lunch and two 15 minute breaks, for a total of six and a half hours of instruction. For more details or to schedule a presentation, contact me today.


GETTING UNSTUCK:  TREATING TEENS WITH CO-OCCURRING DISORDERS

Teens with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders often seem stuck in endless cycles of maladaptive behaviors, experiencing multiple treatment failures and frustrating even the most dedicated professional helpers. In this highly interactive workshop, we’ll deepen our understanding of co-occurring disorders and develop practical skills for making change happen.

First, we’ll deepen our understanding of substance-related problems by exploring stages of use, examining reasons teens use, and identifying  common co-morbid mental health disorders, with a special focus on trauma. We’ll also explore the concept of stuckness, which we can define as the unwillingness or inability to do anything differently. In other words, stuck teens lack the motivation or necessary skills to engage in the change process. Most often, it’s a mix of both.

With this foundation in place, we’ll examine practical strategies for helping teens gets unstuck, starting with therapeutic alliance. Studies show effective therapeutic alliances are essential for engagement, retention, and positive treatment outcomes – especially when working with teens with co-occurring disorders. With that in mind, we’ll consider three key elements of therapeutic alliance — trustworthiness, connection, and presence — and examine field-tested approaches for increasing each.

In addition, we’ll explore the the Stages of Change, an evidence-based trans-theoretical model that identifies five steps in the process of change.  We’ll also examine recycling, ambivalence, and risk avoidance – common obstacles among teens with co-occurring disorders. Along the way, we’ll explore practical ideas for talking to teens about drug use, resolving ambivalence, and more — all with the goal of helping teens with co-occurring disorders get unstuck.


BEYOND THE STUCKNESS:  TEENS, TRAUMA & SUBSTANCE USE DISORDERS

There is a strong, undeniable connection between substance-related problems and exposure to traumatic stress. Unfortunately this connection often goes unnoticed and unaddressed — leading to teens stuck in endless cycles of maladaptive behaviors, often experience multiple treatment failures and frustrating even the most dedicated professional helpers.

To help break this cycle, those of us working with teens need to increase our understanding of the ways that trauma and substance-related problems impact each other. We also need to develop the clinical skills necessary to help teens move beyond the stuckness. In this presentation, we’ll do both.

In the first part of this workshop, we’ll explore ways that trauma and substance use exacerbate each other, the impact of trauma on developmental tasks, and how this can lead to escalating challenges for teen survivors. Next we’ll examine both trauma-specific and trauma-informed approaches for providing ethical, effective counseling with trauma survivors, including the four “active ingredients” of any trauma-specific approach.

In the final part of this workshop, we’ll identify the role of therapeutic alliance in creating transformative change and explore practical strategies for increasing rapport, even with highly resistant teens. Along the way, we’ll identify practical ways to increase motivation, foster change, and nurture self-efficacy among teens with co-morbid trauma and substance use disorders.


RAINBOW TEENS:  CLINICAL & ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS WHEN TREATING LGBTQ+ YOUTH

Studies show that LGBTQ+ youth are significantly more likely than peers to experience depression, anxiety, substance-related problems, and suicidal thoughts. Evidence also shows they’re more likely to engage in self-harming behaviors, experience homelessness, and under perform in school settings. These concerns are true even in relatively progressive areas such as western Washington.

Despite this, many mental health professionals report feeling poorly prepared to work with this population. The first half of the day focuses on increasing our knowledge related to LGBTQ+ teens. We’ll review current vocabulary and relevant statistics, a deep dive into information related to trans youth, and the impact of minority stress. We’ll also spend time exploring our personal perspectives on gender, orientation, and related topics.

During the second half of the day, we’ll shift our focus to clinical skills for working with this population. This includes fostering resilience as an “antidote” to minority stress, practical strategies for building therapeutic alliance, the importance of trauma-informed approaches, and ideas for working with families.

Throughout the day, we’ll also consider relevant ethical considerations when working with LGBTQ+ teens. As such, this training includes the option for two continuing education hours of ethics.


BEHIND THE MASK:  DEPRESSION IN ADOLESCENT MALES

Depression is soaring among adolescent males. However, these young men frequently go undiagnosed and untreated, often because they don’t exhibit standard diagnostic criteria. Instead – after a lifetime being told boys don’t cry – they’re angry, oppositional, self-destructive, or simply numb. They hide behind these masks, pushing away the world and hoping nobody notices they’re actually sad, lonely, vulnerable boys.

In this highly interactive workshop, we’ll develop the knowledge and skills to look behind those masks – in order to address the roots of this covert depression, the impact of the Guy Code, and the Stuckness that results when biological predispositions and environmental stressors collide. Since this Stuckness often includes Big Questions related to death, meaninglessness, and isolation, we’ll consider practical strategies for exploring existential themes with depressed adolescent males.

Often, these masks are attempts to avoid feelings, connections, and life. With that in mind, we’ll identify practical strategies for building therapeutic alliance by improving trustworthiness, nurturing connectedness, and developing therapeutic presence. Throughout the day, we’ll also consider a variety of field-tested strategies to help adolescent males get unstuck, start moving forward, and leave their masks behind.


MINDFULNESS WITH TEENS:  PRACTICAL STRATEGIES FOR INCREASING PRESENCE, INTENTION & NON-JUDGMENT

Research shows that practicing mindfulness can be extremely helpful to those challenged by depression, anxiety, ADHD, substance use disorders, and more. In fact, mindfulness is an essential component of several evidence-based practices, such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

However, the abstract nature of mindfulness can make it challenging to teach in ways that are meaningful and translate into the daily lives of many teen clients. In fact, those clients who would find mindfulness the most difficult to practice — due to significant impulse control issues, extreme hyper-vigilance, or chronic chaos-making behaviors — are generally the ones who would most benefit from it!

Our task as helpers, then, is to present mindfulness in ways that are concrete, accessible and provide obvious value. This workshop will focus on strategies for doing just that. Along the way, we’ll also develop a deeper understanding of mindfulness, review the evidence supporting clinical applications of mindfulness, and develop practical skills for integrating mindfulness into our own work as professional helpers.