Adolescent Risky Behaviour

“Walking a Tightrope: working with risky behaviours in adolescent clients” with Rebecca Kirkbride on Saturday 23rd September 2016

As children move into adolescence they become increasingly curious about the adult world and interested in finding out about its possibilities and limitations. Age-restricted activities such as sex, drinking, smoking, and drugs, become areas many are keen to explore. Risk-taking tends to be a natural part of a young person’s life as they try to find out more about themselves and their capabilities. While for some this will move into reckless and dangerous behaviour, risk-taking is also a positive and necessary part of adolescence. As young people develop, their confidence in themselves builds as they take risks which allow them to appreciate the consequences of their behaviour.

At the same time as they begin to explore this world, young people are experiencing developmental changes across social, emotional, cognitive, neurological and biological spheres which will have a major impact on how they feel about themselves and on how they function in the world and in social groups. The experience of growing up, particularly in the digital-age with the added pressures of social media to manage, can leave young people feeling overwhelmed and ill-equipped to cope with where they find themselves. This can lead to the development of risk behaviours which are likely to result in a negative, rather than positive, outcome, and which run the risk of causing ‘significant harm’.

For therapists working with young people it can be problematic to decide when a behaviour is simply a communication which needs to be understood and worked with, and when there is a risk of significant harm and a need for a safeguarding response to the young person. In this one day workshop, Rebecca will explore the tricky territory of risk and risky behaviours in therapeutic work with adolescents, looking at how therapists can work with these issues as they arise in the course of practice in ways which are helpful to young people and give space to the need to make sense of behaviours as well as to keep the young person safe from harm.

The workshop will cover a broad area of presentations potentially involving risk, such as;
• sexual behaviours,
• self-harm and suicidal ideation,
• eating issues,
• substance use,
• and online behaviours which may involve risk.

During the workshop, we will consider the place of risk-taking as an important part of adolescent development, look at the cognitive and neurological developments which affect a young person’s ability to manage risk and understand consequences, explore psychological dynamics underlying risk, as well as work with boundaries around safeguarding and child protection.

The workshop will be experiential in parts and attendees are invited to bring issues and dilemmas from their own practice for exploration and consideration by the group.

Rebecca Kirkbride is a BACP senior accredited counsellor of adults, children and young people and the author of the recently published Counselling Children and Young People in Private Practice: A Practical Guide (Karnac Books, 2015).

Rebecca trained originally in psychotherapeutic counselling at the University of Sussex. After completing this training in 2002 she went on to work for many years with children and young people in a variety of settings including primary and secondary schools as well as in community settings and private practice. During this time Rebecca managed counselling services in several local schools providing counselling to students as well as support and supervision to staff. She provided trainings on areas such as attachment theory and facilitated workshops for colleagues on working toward accreditation.

In 2012 Rebecca set up a counselling service at a local academy school in Portslade, Brighton. On leaving the academy in 2014 Rebecca made the decision to focus on her private practice with children and young people. It was out of this decision that her recently published book, Counselling Children and Young People in Private Practice: A Practical Guide (Karnac Books, 2015) emerged.

Rebecca is currently working in private practice in Brighton. She sees adults, children and young people as well as offering clinical supervision to other practitioners who are working with these groups.


Go to the CURRENT EVENTS page to book your place by clicking here.

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