2nd Edition

Working with High-Risk Youth A Relationship-Based Practice Framework

By Peter Smyth Copyright 2024
    362 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    362 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This fully revised and expanded second edition focusses on high-risk youth - whose struggles include neglect and abuse, alcohol and drug abuse, the risk of being exploited, mental health issues, and the inability to self-regulate and trust - a population of youth that government child welfare services and community agencies struggle to serve adequately.

    The focus has traditionally been on punishment-consequence interventions and demanding compliance, but experience and research shows that they can be better served through relationship-based practice incorporating harm reduction principles, resiliency and strength-based approaches, community collaboration, and an understanding that these youth typically come from experiences of early trauma impacting their brain development and their ability to form attachments.

    With new material on attachment, trauma and brain development, the "perfect storm" youth, how to end relationships, shame, and societal divisions, this book provides an overview of the Get Connected practice framework and philosophy which has been successfully used in Canada and New Zealand and provides strategies for engaging and working with the most disconnected, challenging, and troubled youth in society.

    It will be required reading for all agency service providers, community outreach workers, youth workers, group home workers, probation officers, foster parents, adoptive parents, service navigators, counsellors, addictions workers, mental health workers, teachers, youth group leaders, and youth pastors/advisors in religious settings, and camp counsellors.

    1.Introduction: The Get Connected Practice Framework.  2.Where Do High Risk Youth Come From? Part A: The Attachment Perspective.  3.Where Do High Risk Youth Come From? Part B: The Neuroscience Perspective.  4.Broken Spirits: The Battle with Addictions.  5.Why A Harm Reduction Philosophy is Essential for Working with High-Risk Youth.  6.Building from Strengths and Promoting Resiliency.  7.Engaging Community, Engaging Youth.  8.Getting Connected: The Profound Importance of Relationship.  9.Strategies for Engaging and Working with High Risk Youth.  10.No Room for Error: Boundaries and Ethics and High Risk Youth.  11.Is This Really How It Ends? Seamless Transitions and Meaningful Goodbyes.  12.Conclusion: A Reason for Optimism.


    Peter Smyth, MSW, RSW, MSM, was the Specialist for High Risk Youth Services, overseeing the High Risk Youth Initiative with Alberta Children’s Services Edmonton Region, where he worked for 32 years. He developed a practice framework and philosophy incorporating non-traditional intervention methods to better meet the needs of complex, troubled and street-involved youth population. The first edition of his book, High Risk Youth: A Relationship-Based Practice Framework, was released in 2017. He has written book chapters and articles about issues confronting youth. He provides consultation, training and workshops on engaging and working with youth. Peter is currently a senior interventionist the Organization for the Prevention of Violence, Evolve Program, in Edmonton. Peter is a sessional instructor at the University of Calgary, Faculty of Social Work, and at the MacEwan University School of Social Work. In 2020, Peter received the Canada Governor General Meritorious Service Medal (Civil Division) for his work with youth.