Engaging children as partners in practice to support their mental health and wellbeing

Engaging children as partners in practice to support their mental health and wellbeing

Chris Dolman, Lisa Johnson and Dom Kleinig

This webinar discussed practices that can contribute to practitioners creating genuine partnerships with children and their families.

Enabling children to have a genuine voice in decisions affecting their lives is a challenge faced by practitioners across a broad range of sectors. Yet it is a practice that significantly contributes to child safety and to useful early intervention and prevention approaches to support the mental health and wellbeing of children.

For practitioners, issues in adopting this practice can include: confidence in engaging children in developmentally appropriate ways; agency structural and workflow issues that inadvertently limit flexibility and creativity; the expectations of parents and carers on the type of intervention required; and finding ways of working collaboratively that minimise power imbalances between adults and children.

In this webinar, Chris, Lisa and Dom drew on their years of experience in working with children and families to discuss the practices that they have found useful in creating genuine partnerships to support the mental health and wellbeing of children and their families.

This webinar was for practitioners who work with children, as well as practitioners who work with adults and who want to enhance their skills around engaging children. Learning outcomes included:

  • An understanding of the key intentions and purposes of building genuine partnerships with children and families in service provision and the ethics that inform these endeavours;
  • An exploration of some ideas and practices to support practitioners to build genuine partnerships with children;
  • An introduction to some of useful tools and processes that can be readily implemented by organisations to support practice. 

This webinar was the second in a series focusing on children's mental health. It was co-produced by CFCA and Emerging Minds. They are working together as part of the National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health, which is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health under the National Support for Child and Youth Mental Health Program.

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Featured image: © GettyImages/monkeybusinessimages

About the presenters

Chris Dolman

Chris is a social worker who has been working for the past 15 years with individuals, couples and families facing a broad range of concerns in their lives and relationships. Chris currently works with Emerging Minds and the National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health, and is also a narrative therapist with Country Health SA providing consultations via video link to people living in rural and remote South Australia. Previously, Chris has worked as a counsellor, supervisor and manager in a family and relationships counselling service with Uniting Communities, with a particular focus around responding to family violence and the effects of childhood sexual abuse. He holds a Master of Narrative Therapy and Community Work and is a member of the Dulwich Centre Teaching Faculty.

Lisa Johnson

Lisa is a psychologist and trained teacher using narrative practices in therapy and teaching contexts across community, private practice and education settings. Lisa's interest in narrative ideas began in the late 90s working with young people who found themselves navigating juvenile justice and foster care systems. Lisa has continued to work with children, young people and families responding to a wide range of problems and dilemmas. Currently, Lisa works from within a school community in Adelaide, alongside supervision and teaching locally and internationally.

Dom Kleinig

Dom is a Senior Child Mental Health Workforce Consultant at Emerging Minds and a parent-infant therapist in a family and child health service. Dom has a diverse practice background that has focused on strengthening early parent-child relationships and parenting in the context of perinatal mental health concerns and compounding adversities in the family systems. Dom is passionate about therapeutic dyadic and group work that supports healthy relationships between caregivers and infant children as a key transmission point of intergenerational vulnerabilities as well as strengths to the developing mind. Dom has a major interest in reflective conversations that support, challenge and develop clinicians working with children and young families.

Dom’s current work with the National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health is focused on facilitating conversations and supporting organisational changes that expand and deepen the capacity to respond to the needs of children, no matter the context.

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