Working with High-Risk Adolescents: A Collaborative Strengths-Based Approach


This innovative book focuses on helping high-risk adolescents and their families rapidly resolve long-standing difficulties. Matthew D. Selekman spells out a range of solution-focused strategies and other techniques, illustrating their implementation with vivid case examples. His approach augments individual and family sessions with collaborative meetings that enlist the strengths of the adolescent’s social network and key helping professionals from larger systems. User-friendly features include checklists, sample questions to aid in relationship building and goal setting, and reproducible forms that can be downloaded and printed in a convenient 8 1/2″ x 11″ size. Blending family therapy science with therapeutic artistry, the book significantly refines and updates the approach originally presented in Selekman’s Pathways to Change.


  • Foreword, Harlene Anderson
  • 1. Navigating through Complex High-Risk Adolescent Mazes
  • 2. Family Engagement: Tailor the Relationships of Choice
  • 3. Building Strong Partnerships with Pessimistic Helping Professionals and Members from Families’ Social Networks
  • 4. Collaborative Treatment Team Planning and Goal Setting
  • 5. Co-Developing and Selecting Interventions to Suit Clients’ Strengths, Theories of Change, and Goals
  • 6. Family–Social Network Relapse Prevention Tools and Strategies
  • 7. “The Atomic Bomb Kid”: Working with a Violent Adolescent
  • 8. From “Numbing Out Bad Thoughts and Feelings” to “Welcoming Death”: Working with a High-Risk Suicidal Adolescent
  • 9. Therapeutic Mistakes and Treatment Failures: Wisdom Gained and Valuable Lessons Learned
  • 10. Therapeutic Artistry: Finding Your Creative Edge
  • References
  • Index

Author Bio:

Matthew D. Selekman, MSW, LCSW, is a family therapist and addictions counsellor in private practice and Director of Partners for Collaborative Solutions, an international family therapy training and consulting firm in Skokie, Illinois. He is an Approved Supervisor with the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. Mr. Selekman served as the invited Henry Maier Practitioner-in-Residence at the School of Social Work of the University of Washington and is a three-time recipient of the Walter S. Rosenberry Award from Children’s Hospital Colorado for his significant contributions to the fields of psychiatry and behavioural sciences. The author of numerous professional articles and books he consults worldwide to schools and treatment programs serving adolescents and their families. Since 1985, he has given workshops extensively throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe, Southeast Asia, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.


“The book is equally helpful to students preparing to become therapists and to beginner and skilled therapists who want to learn how to work with this population….This is a very valuable addition to the literature on working with adolescents, especially with those who are high risk, a population that is hard to reach and generally considered ‘difficult.’ The author’s solution and resilience-focused, integrative approach brings hope to practitioners daring to work with young men and women in challenging situations. Uniquely, the author encourages therapists to courageously use innovative techniques and gives suggestions on how to use their own creative inclinations in designing interventions with and for families at risk.”

Also available from this author:

  • Collaborative Brief Therapy With Children
  • The Adolescent And Young Adult Self-Harming Treatment Manual
  • Working With Self-Harming Adolescents: A Collaborative Strengths-Based Therapy Approach