Working with Children and Youth with Complex Needs : 20 Skills to Build Resilience book cover
1st Edition

Working with Children and Youth with Complex Needs
20 Skills to Build Resilience

ISBN 9781138800731
Published October 14, 2014 by Routledge
222 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Working with Children and Youth with Complex Needs provides a detailed description of techniques and rich stories of how social workers, psychologists, counselors, and child and youth care workers can help young people become more resilient. With ample case studies and fascinating explanations of research, Dr. Ungar shows why we need to work just as hard changing the environments that surround children as we do changing children themselves. Building on lessons learned from clinical, community and residential settings, Dr. Ungar discusses 20 skills that can enhance the effectiveness of frontline mental health services. Along with descriptions of the skills necessary to talk with clients about the factors that put their mental health at risk, Working with Children and Youth with Complex Needs also presents systemic practices clinicians can use in their everyday work. Engaging with children’s extended family, addressing issues of community violence, racism and homophobia, and helping parents and teachers understand children’s maladaptive coping strategies as sometimes necessary are among the many practical strategies that are discussed which clinicians can use to enhance and sustain the therapeutic value of their work.

Table of Contents

1. A Social Ecological Approach to Clinical Work   2. Why a Social Ecological Practice Works  3. Principles and Skills for a Social Ecological Practice  4. The First Set of Skills: Help Clients Navigate  5. The Second Set of Skills: Help Clients Negotiate  6. The Third Set of Skills: Integrate the Five Phases of Counseling  7. Perils and Pitfalls of Being a Counselor  8. Getting Our Organizations to Adopt an Ecological Approach to Clinical Practice, Case Management and Advocacy  9. The Counselor as Advocate

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Michael Ungar, PhD, is a family therapist and professor of social work at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. He is also the founder and co-director of the Resilience Research Centre, which coordinates large multisite research studies in over a dozen countries. Among his many contributions to his community have been his role as co-chair of the Nova Scotia Mental Health and Addictions Strategy Advisory Committee, executive board member of the American Family Therapy Academy, and scientific director of the Children and Youth in Challenging Contexts Network.


"This exceptional book advances our knowledge about treating the most impoverished populations from the widest social ecological perspective… ‘Working with Children and Youth with Complex Needs’ is a unique blend of techniques, didactic discourse, subtle nudging, problem solving and self-expression from a remarkably insightful therapist-academic-researcher-writer. I have long been a fan of social ecological intervention as the basis for improving the lives of profoundly needy children and families. This book is the best of its kind and at the top of my list of suggested readings for mental health and social services professionals." – James K. Luiselli, Ed.D., ABPP,BCBA-D, is Chief Clinical Officer, Clinical Solutions, Inc and North East Educational and Developmental Support Center, Tewksbury, Mass, in New England Psychologist

"A practical, beautifully written book that I've already found useful. These 20 skills are a great place to start in supporting children and young people with complex needs." Angie Hart, PhD, Professor of Child, Family and Community Health at the University of Brighton, UK

"If you feel like the problems your clients encounter are too big and the helping systems in which you work are too small, read this book! Michael Ungar offers specific suggestions for an ecological practice that moves from helping individuals cope to changing the problematic contexts in which they live. Accessible, lively, and filled with great stories, this book highlights concrete ways to improve people’s lives and transform the work done by mental health and social service professionals." – William Madsen, PhD, director of the Family-Centered Services Project in Watertown, Massachusetts, USA

"This important book responds to the harsh reality that many children and young people’s lives are problematically complex, chaotic, and messy. Through many real-life scenarios and case studies, the reader is carefully and concretely walked through the strategies required to help improve the lives of at-risk children and youth. Dr. Ungar’s social ecological approach expertly attends to both external and internal worlds so that at-risk children and young people can better navigate and negotiate the complex world they inhabit. Running through all of this is a positive, hopeful and respectful orientation towards all children and young people, whatever their state and their circumstances. I commend this work to anyone seeking to authentically and comprehensively tackle the very real complexities our children and young people experience in their daily lives." – Andrew Martin, PhD, Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of New South Wales, Australia