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Course Description

Overview:

Assessment of mental health problems in children and youth is complex. Attention to family, school, community, and cultural context is essential, as is a thorough understanding of how physical and psychological development may influence the presentation. Distinguishing presentations within the normal range from psychopathology is also sometimes challenging. When inquiring about these multiple issues, it is easy to lose sight of the need to nurture therapeutic relationships between the assessor, the client, and the family. Checklists and standardized measures may aid assessment, but they cannot replace these relationships. Forming and maintaining therapeutic relationships can be particularly challenging when working with youth. Organizing assessment information in a way that informs treatment is a further challenge. Manuals may identify evidence-based treatments to consider for large diagnostic groups, but the appropriateness and success of those treatments in a given child or youth often depends on an individualized case formulation. Such a formulation may also suggest additional interventions which can result in meaningful change, identify situations that fall outside one’s scope of practice, and may guide the intensity of intervention needed. Cognitive behavioral interventions are among the simplest to learn and apply in different age groups and in a variety of mental health conditions.

This 30-hour course will engage participants in learning and applying techniques of mental health assessment, case formulation, treatment planning, and cognitive behavioral intervention in children and youth. Experiential exercises using simulated cases will highlight key aspects of each topic, allowing participants to face and master the challenges mentioned above. Judging the most appropriate intensity of intervention in a given situation, including developing multidisciplinary treatment plans that account for complex client needs (including timely referrals to services such as emergent care), will be illustrated as well. In the latter part of the course, participants will learn key principles of psychosocial treatment, with emphasis on cognitive behavioral and problem-solving interventions with children and youth.

Learning Objectives:

  • To identify key aspects of assessment in child & adolescent mental health care
  • To distinguish common presentations that are within the normal range from psychopathology
  • To understand how case formulation enhances diagnostic assessment
  • To practice case formulation of mental health problems in children and youth
  • To plan appropriate types and levels of mental health intervention in children and youth
  • To determine the goodness-of-fit between client needs and clinician scope of practice, in order to identify “red flag issues” to avoid and facilitate access to additional resources (i.e., supervision, referral, multidisciplinary intervention).
  • To learn key principles of cognitive behavioral and problem-solving interventions, and how to apply these effectively with children and youth
  • To review and practice skills needed to work effectively with adolescents, preteens, and preschoolers
  • To learn specific therapeutic strategies for anxiety, depression, and managing externalizing behaviour. Develop a basic understanding of other childhood conditions that may require more expert help (e.g.,  PTSD, OCD, Selective mutism, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder).
  • To critically review new, emerging information relevant to child & youth mental health

The following topics will be covered:

  • Assessment
  • Case Formulation
  • Treatment Planning
  • Contracting and Engagement
  • CBT and Problem Solving
  • Applications for Internalizing Disorders
  • Applications for Externalizing and Developmental Disorders

Prerequisites

  • At least one university course (or equivalent training) focused on childhood psychological development
  • At least one university course (or equivalent training) focused on basic principles of child psychotherapy
  • At least one year of clinical experience in assessing and treating children’s mental health problems

If you are uncertain about your pre-requisites please contact the Instructor at kmmanassis@gmail.com 

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