Working with Children and Youth with Complex Needs: 20 Skills to Build Resilience


SKU: 9781138800731 Categories: , , ,

This book provides a detailed description of techniques and rich stories of how social workers, psychologists, counsellors, and child and youth care workers can help young people become more resilient. With ample case studies and fascinating explanations of research, Dr. Ungar shows why we need to work just as hard changing the environments that surround children as we do changing children themselves. Building on lessons learned from clinical, community and residential settings, Dr. Ungar discusses 20 skills that can enhance the effectiveness of frontline mental health services. Along with descriptions of the skills necessary to talk with clients about the factors that put their mental health at risk, Working with Children and Youth with Complex Needs also presents systemic practices clinicians can use in their everyday work. Engaging with children’s extended family, addressing issues of community violence, racism and homophobia, and helping parents and teachers understand children’s maladaptive coping strategies as sometimes necessary are among the many practical strategies that are discussed which clinicians can use to enhance and sustain the therapeutic value of their work.


  • 1. A Social Ecological Approach to Clinical Work
  • 2. Why a Social Ecological Practice Works
  • 3. Principles and Skills for a Social Ecological Practice
  • 4. The First Set of Skills: Help Clients Navigate
  • 5. The Second Set of Skills: Help Clients Negotiate
  • 6. The Third Set of Skills: Integrate the Five Phases of Counseling
  • 7. Perils and Pitfalls of Being a Counsellor
  • 8. Getting Our Organizations to Adopt an Ecological Approach to Clinical Practice, Case Management and Advocacy
  • 9. The Counsellor as Advocate

Author Bio:

Michael Ungar, PhD, is a family therapist and professor of social work at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. He is also the founder and co-director of the Resilience Research Centre, which coordinates large multisite research studies in over a dozen countries. Among his many contributions to his community have been his role as co-chair of the Nova Scotia Mental Health and Addictions Strategy Advisory Committee, executive board member of the American Family Therapy Academy, and scientific director of the Children and Youth in Challenging Contexts Network.


“This important book responds to the harsh reality that many children and young people’s lives are problematically complex, chaotic, and messy. Through many real-life scenarios and case studies, the reader is carefully and concretely walked through the strategies required to help improve the lives of at-risk children and youth. Dr. Ungar’s social ecological approach expertly attends to both external and internal worlds so that at-risk children and young people can better navigate and negotiate the complex world they inhabit. Running through all of this is a positive, hopeful and respectful orientation towards all children and young people, whatever their state and their circumstances. I commend this work to anyone seeking to authentically and comprehensively tackle the very real complexities our children and young people experience in their daily lives.” – Andrew Martin, PhD, Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of New South Wales, Australia