Certificate Program

a new certificate program offered in collaboration with Cascadia Training

Join us in Edmonds, Washington for this special retreat-style training! You’ll explore field-tested strategies for engaging teens, examine core concepts for improving treatment outcomes, and earn Cascadia Training’s new Adolescent Counseling Specialist Certificate!

“The most fun I’ve ever had at a continuing ed training!”
-Prior attende

“David’s trainings are always packed with useful ideas for turning theory into practice.”
-Prior attendee

“I’m no longer afraid of teen clients!”
-Prior attendee

In Person January 26 to 28, 2023 • At the Harbor Inn in Edmonds, Washington
Earn 18 CEUs and certification as an Adolescent Counseling Specialist
Registration and additional information coming soon

Few therapists have significant training or experience working with teens. Heck, the topic isn’t even covered in most grad school programs. So, not know what else to do, we treat teen clients like big kids or little adults – and then wonder why they’re unengaged, unwilling, and uninterested.

If that weren’t enough, many teens seem to hate therapy – presenting as resistant, oppositional, or worse. They’re not resistant, though! They just don’t want to talk about their feelings with a stranger, or learn shrink-wrapped coping skills, or identify measurable treatment goals. What teen would?

In this highly interactive three-day training, we’ll reframe this initial resistance, explore dozens of field-tested strategies, and take deep dives into several topics guaranteed to helptransform teen therapy. Along the way, we’ll take time for frequent self-reflection – because You-the-Therapist have far more impact on teen clients than any tool, tip, or trick ever will.

We’ll start Day One by reframing this so-called resistance, using three alternative perspectives:

  • A Developmental Lens. Adolescence is a discreet developmental stage with predictable tasks to complete. We’ll review those tasks, consider ideas for being developmentally savvy therapists, and explore what can happen when developmental tasks go uncompleted.
  • An Attachment Lens. Attachment styles impact every therapeutic interaction. That’s why we’ll spend time identifying ways attachment shows up in counseling, strategies for navigating insecure attachment styles, and how our own attachment styles matter, too.
  • A Trauma Lens. We’ll deepen our understanding of trauma, including common impacts of untreated trauma exposure, the differences between trauma-informed and trauma-specific therapy, and the four active ingredients of all good trauma therapy.

These three lenses help us look beyond the initial resistance and engage with teen clients in more effective ways. Sometimes, that’s all it takes for the reluctance to disappear. Other times, we may discover clients are stuck. Stuckness is the unwillingness or inability to do anything differently. Day One continues with us exploring the Stuckness, identifying common exacerbating factors such as stalled identity formation and minority stress, and considering field-tested ideas for helping teens get unstuck.

Transforming therapy with teens requires building robust therapeutic relationships, facilitating meaningful change, and understanding the role of substances. On Day Two, we’ll take deep dives into these three essential skill sets.

Cultivate Rapport. Building therapeutic alliance can seem daunting to many clinicians, especially when working with resistant teens. However, studies show effective alliances are essential for engagement, retention, and positive outcomes. We’ll explore practical skills for intentionally cultivating rapport by increasing our trustworthiness, nurturing connectedness, and embodying empathy. Along the way, we’ll explore the role of self-disclosure, field-tested strategies for engaging teens with insecure attachment styles, and more.

Facilitate Change. Change is a process, not an event. Many teens enter counseling with little commitment to this process. Our goal is to help them find their own motivation to consider change and start moving forward. We’ll explore core ideas from Motivational Interviewing and the Stages of Change model – two evidence-based approaches to facilitating lasting change. Then we’ll examine stage-specific interventions – including strategies for integrating change-talk into sessions, ideas for resolving ambivalence, and more.

Address Drugs. Nearly half the teens in mental health services meet the diagnostic criteria for a substance use disorder. When these teens don’t get effective treatment, they often seem stuck in endless cycles of maladaptive behaviors, experiencing multiple treatment failures and frustrating even the most dedicated professional helpers. We’ll end Day Two by exploring the stages of substance use, reasons teens use, and diagnostic criteria. We’ll also consider the impact of attachment-related challenges, practical strategies for addressing substance use, and more.

Research shows mindfulness can be extremely helpful to those challenged by depression, anxiety, ADHD, substance-related problems, and other mental health concerns. In fact, mindfulness is an essential component of several evidence-based practices – such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.

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 many cases, the 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 the ones who would most benefit most! Our task is to present mindfulness in ways that are concrete, accessible, and provide obvious value.  Day Three focuses on exploring practical, field-tested ways to do just that.

Mindfulness with Teens. We’ll start Day Three by focusing on practical strategies to make mindfulness meaningful to our teen clients – by deepening our understanding of mindfulness, developing practical skills for integrating mindfulness into both individual and group sessions, and engaging in over a dozen field-tested treatment-appropriate activities that help make mindfulness concrete, accessible, and effective when working with teens.

Don’t Make Things Worse. Most teens in clinical settings have a difficult time making thoughtful, effective choices. Maybe this shows up as impulsivity, poor decision making, self-destructive behavior, or a variety of other ways. Mindfulness helps these teens develop metacognition skills that allows them to slow down, take time to think, and ultimately get what they need without making things worse.

Mindfulness-Based Existential Therapy. The last few years have been filled with distress about issues that simply can’t be fixed. We’ll examine core ideas from existential psychotherapy –those related Big External Stressors and themes such as isolation, meaning, and pointlessness common among teens with mood disorders, trauma, and other mental health challenges. Then, we’ll explore practical field-tested strategies for integrating mindfulness and existential therapy when exploring both.

This three-day retreat style training will be held at the Best Western Harbor Inn in Edmonds, Washington – a charming, waterfront town fifteen miles and a world away from Seattle. We invite you to make a weekend out of the training, by staying at the hotel. In addition to our classroom time, you’ll have plenty of time to explore the shops, restaurants, and waterfront – including happy hours, group dinners, and more. The Harbor Inn is offering a 15% discount to all attendees, so book your room today and join us for this special weekend!