Conversation Starters for Direct Work with Children and Young People: Guidance and Activities for Talking About Difficult Subjects


Some children face traumatic or difficult events in their lives and it’s essential that they are helped to understand such events and given permission to talk. To do this, helping adults need to be equipped and confident to start these conversations.

Conversation Starters for Direct Work with Children and Young People provides guidance and support for any adult who needs to talk to children about difficult issues. The issues covered include domestic abuse and drug use, mental health issues, adoption and fostering, family illness and bereavement, as well as giving evidence in court.

Co-authored by the bestselling author of Direct Work with Vulnerable Children and Direct Work with Family Groups, this book combines seasoned practice wisdom with practical examples and activity ideas to enable you to best help the children in your care.

Suitable for: Social workers, child protection workers, therapists, counsellors, health professionals, residential care workers, police interviewers, teaching staff, nursery workers, court-appointed guardians, child and family centre workers.


  • 1. Introduction.
  • 2. Preparation.
  • 3. Partnership working.
  • 4. Bullying.
  • 5. Domestic Abuse.
  • 6. Divorce and Separation.
  • 7. An absent parent.
  • 8. Problematic alcohol use.
  • 9. Problematic drug use.
  • 10. Foster care.
  • 11. Adoption and Permanence.
  • 12. Mental health problems.
  • 13. Dementia.
  • 14. When someone in the family is unwell.
  • 15. Death and / or Suicide.
  • 16. Giving evidence in court.
  • 17. Imprisonment.
  • 18. Looking after yourself.

Author Bio:

Audrey Tait is a Social Worker with the Children and Families Practice Team, City of Edinburgh Council. Originally trained as a nursery nurse, she has 20 years’ experience working with children in social work settings and for the past 4 years she has been delivering a training course, Communicating with Children, for the City of Edinburgh Council’s Children and Families Department.

Becky Dunn is a Senior Practitioner delivering child protection training for Edinburgh Council, and has worked with children for 15 years in a variety of settings.


‘This book is built on longstanding knowledge and experience. It will provide professionals a suite of resources and ideas that can inform their own practice and add to the emotional toolkit of our most vulnerable young people as they journey through their lives.’ – – Paul Hunter, headteacher, St Catherines R.C. Primary School, Edinburgh