Developing psychologically flexible children and adolescents

Using ACT and RFT to promote a healthy sense of self

Access is for 6 months after purchase
2.5 hours (2.5 CE credits)

Course Description

You will have access to the recording for 6 months

“Humans are, by nature, pattern-seeking, storytelling animals, and we are quite adept at telling stories about patterns whether they exist or not.”  – Michael Shermer

The development of language is a critical developmental milestone for children but it also has the potential to create extraordinary amounts of pain and suffering. How do we help our children and adolescents successfully navigate this developmental pathway to create a healthy sense of self with a flexible narratives about themselves, others and the world, that promote health, well-being and happiness? Join Darin Cairns,  child and adolescent clinical psychologist and world leading expert in using ACT / RFT with young people  for this deeply insightful webinar as he takes you through the cutting edge research and developments in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Relational Frame Theory (RFT) to learn practically how to do this.

Language and narrative are essential components of the developmental process that exponentially accelerates learning.  They take a child from their immediate sensory world into the conceptual (the imagined) and the cultural (the broader social fabric) worlds. A child’s narrative or story eventually culminates as an identity and sense of self.

However, while narratives are powerful tools, they can also easily turn them on children to cause great harm to both development and wellbeing.  So much of harmful narrative is passed on by positively intentioned parents and parent-like figures in our culture.  Delivered through direct and indirect, conscious, and unconscious processes until a young person does not know where the stories come from or how they became so believable and feel so ‘true’.

This webinar will take you through the steps of how this occurs, including the ways in which parents and care-providers well intentioned reasons, explanations, instructions, and guidance, when applied with inflexibility, can lead to coercive parenting practices and dysfunctional attachments. Darin will outline the impact this can have on young children and how these can lead to social-emotional problems and diagnoses associated with acting out.  He will also describe the negative effects of inflexible narratives on adolescents  such as social withdrawal, self-defeating and limiting behaviour, or the aligning with maladaptive group identities in service of security and ‘sense making’.

As practitioners, helping young people to successfully navigate the pitfalls associated with language development is an essential part of our work.  The concepts of Psychological Flexibility and Relational Frame Theory sheds light on this uniquely human challenge. They can help us understand and identify what can be done to empower our children and young people, rather than simply suffer at the hands of their (and our) stories.

In this workshop Darin will:

1. Explain the advances Relational Frame Theory that helps our understanding of how language develops and works to give narratives/stories their power over us

2. Outline the key developmental processes that lead to narrative capacity and how it ‘takes off’ and accelerates psychological and cognitive development

3. Show where the primary source of narrative information comes from through the differing developmental stages

4. Demonstrate the common narratives (‘stories’) that lead to inflexibility at key stages of development up to and including adulthood.

5. Give practical examples of how to use the narrative vehicles and processes to promote psychological flexibility in three parts:

…..a. Key methods parents (and teachers) can use speak to children to promote psychological flexibility by using narratives (i.e. explanations, reasons, examples) more effectively and accurately.

…..b. Techniques that parents and therapists can use to develop narratives of flexibility through understanding the power of group and self-talk (i.e. understanding the power of norms, identity, awareness of one’s own thoughts)

…..c. Ways to help adolescents develop strategies to explore and write their own narratives that are flexible and psychologically meaningful.

If you have disability and require adjustments or accommodation, please email us at to discuss your needs and we will do our best to help you.

APA psychologists: This program is sponsored by Contextual Consulting and is approved for 2.5 CE credits for psychologists. 

Behaviour analysts: This workshop is available for 2.5 BACB Learning CEUs. Contextual Consulting is an approved BACB ACE Provider # OP-20-3415.

Nationally certified counselors: This workshop is available for 2.5 credit hours. Contextual Consulting Ltd. has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 7578. 

To find out more, including attendance requirements and how to access your certificate, go to our continuing education information page.

Developing psychologically flexible children and adolescents
$45.00 (+ VAT if applicable).
Student price US$25.00   Select:

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