Developing Psychologically Flexible Children and Adolescents with Darin Cairns

Using ACT and RFT to promote a healthy sense of self

28th Apr 2022


Thursday 28th April, 2022
9am – 11am UK time/ BST;  6pm – 8pm Sydney Time/ AEST. CLICK HERE to convert to your local time
Online Webinar + recording
Presenter: Darin Cairns
Please note: you can still access the recording for 3 months even if you are not able to make the live event

“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.


About Your Presenter

Darin Cairns Clinical Psychologist | Clinic Director

Darin Cairns has over 20 years experience in treating children, adults and families for a range of psychological disorders. He has specialised in emotional, neurological and developmental disorders. Clinically, Darin has expertise in child, adolescent, family therapy and developmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorders. He also has extensive experience in adult mental health and working with high conflict families where coercive dynamics are present.   He is regularly sought out as a Single Expert Witness for the Family Court and Children’s Court of Western Australia as well as the Department of Child Protection and Communities.  The Education Department of WA also seeks him out for consultations and support with complex matters requiring advanced staff training and support on a regular basis.  He has supervised many psychologists who have gone on to open their own clinics or now provide consultation in their own specialities at the Charles St Clinic.

Darin is well known for his work with children, adolescents and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Darin has set up award winning early intervention services in Western Australia for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and related conditions. He was initially trained in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), Clinical Behaviour Analysis and Functional Analytic Psychotherapy. After many years working with developmental specialists and clinicians his frustration at not being able to bridge the gap from ABA to complex behavioural and emotional domains lead him to Relational Frame Theory (RFT). He has since applied Relational Frame Theory (RFT) to hundreds of developmental programs for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and special needs and continues to practice clinically using therapies developed from RFT such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and other third wave Cognitive Behavioural Approaches.

Darin has lectured at the tertiary level and has provided over 200 training courses to a wide range of populations in the medical, health and public settings.  He is a sought after speaker in the use of evidence based practice to promote psychological wellbeing and development around the world having been invited to speak in the UK, Europe, the US and most of Australia.


How do I access the webinar?

It’s super simple. The event will be hosted via Zoom. All you need to do is follow a link that you will be provided prior to the course, along with instructions. Just click and join the workshop 

Can I ask questions during the presentation?

Absolutely. You will be able to ask the presenter questions, just as you would in any workshop. You’ll also have the extra benefit of being able to interact with other colleagues who have also joined the webinar.

Will I receive a CPD certificate?

Yes, you will receive a CPD certificate. This will be available in your My Workshops section.

Can I view the presentation afterwards?

Yes, a video of presentation will be available after the workshop is finished.  You’ll be able to go back over any part of the webinar to review or check anything that you missed. You also don’t actually have to attend the live webinar – if you’re not able to make it on the actual dates, you can still login afterwards and watch the recorded version.

What equipment do I need?

You just need a computer (PC or Mac), laptop or tablet that can access the internet. You need a good broadband speed that would allow you to comfortably stream a movie (such as a video on YouTube).

Can I still participate in any skills practice work?

Yes, Zoom allows you to easily connect with other participants’  in breakout rooms.

Will the Webinar work on my computer?

Yes! As long as you have access to a web browser and you’re connected to the internet, you will be able to attend. It’s that simple – all you need to do is go to the webpage link, login and you’re set to go. You can join the workshop on any device including your home computer or iPad. You can even join in using your smart phone.

How do I deal with any technical issues that come up?

We will have dedicated technicians on hand throughout the entire duration of the workshop. They will be there to help you manage any issues that may come up and get you back in to the workshop again. Also, if you think there may be a problem, be it with your work access or anything else, you can log in early to check if things are working for you, and be prepared.

There may of course be technical issues that come up on your end, which will be your responsibility to look after. But these are rare and we have an extra handy troubleshooting guide that comes with tips and tricks to deal with any problems.