Clinical Social Work With Adolescents

Description of Course:

Session amounts may vary based on the individual needs of the organization.

For individuals, please contact us for more information.

SHAME, BLAME and PAIN – Negotiating the Challenges Faced By Adolescents, and Why They Pose Such Difficulty For the Clinical Practitioner

Participants will understand the importance of developing a conceptual framework for engagement of clients around recognizing and distinguishing between nuanced, but qualitatively distinct categories of pain or emotional discomfort

emotional pain

psychological pain

physical pain

existential pain

alienation and loneliness


You Can’t Talk Clearly About It If You Can’t Think Clearly About It”–

It is often taken for granted that clinicians are particularly adept at helping adolescents navigate the difficult territory of “emotional learning”, however, this is not always the case. It is, for clinician and clients alike, often the most challenging aspect of clinical work. Stress is frequently placed on the “observable and measurable” features of assessment and treatment, with less attention accorded the questions surrounding genuine engagement with the client—including the question of what engagement at the level of treatment actually involves.

The nuances of profound feelings, thoughts and experiences often present genuine challenges for adolescents and clinicians alike.

For some clinicians, the outward expressions of the difficulty a client experiences in exploring realms of thoughts and feelings are often times shrugged off as “resistance”. This is not necessarily so. More often we may be encountering the adolescent’s difficulty in negotiating the nuances of language as well as the compelling forces of the feelings and thoughts. For example, “It was boring”, may be a frequent adolescent response when questioned about having not followed through on a task or expectation. When we encourage the adolescent to think or “talk through” a matter, we may, inadvertently, take for granted the difficulty this may pose for the client. Of course these areas involve powerful , abstract feelings or experiences that are difficult to articulate such as guilt; grief; despair; loss; cruelty; longing; regret; disappointment; “cowardice;” fear, sorrow; rage.

Learning Objectives and Teaching Methods:

Learning to “sit” with an adolescent, enduring such moments of difficulty and pain, without judgment, while helping to decode the “language of behavior and feelings” in a meaningful and authentic manner, will be a centerpiece of our work. The use of relevant music, film and writing for self-expression will be employed as tools for fostering the capacity for “sitting with” difficult feeling states and experiences. Participants will explore the use of writing for self-expression and will experience certain aspects of a therapeutic support group.