Spotlight on Children’s Mental Health: A Free Online Course

Spotlight on Children’s Mental Health: A Free Online Course

The University of Essex in the UK is giving a series of free online courses to raise awareness about the challenges children encounter and to treat mental health issues in young adolescents. The series, titled "Why won't they behave? Why Can't They Learn?" tries to address body image disorder, gender identity issues, self-harm, and challenging behaviour. The classes are open to educators, parents, and anybody dealing with children, particularly vulnerable or traumatized youngsters, according to a press release from the university. Psychodynamic counselling and the positive roles of schools will also be discussed by experts from the university's Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies (PPS). Chris Tanner, a senior lecturer at PPS, University of Essex, said that they are happy to be conducting this series of free lectures. He mentioned that they are dedicated to educating all professionals who interact with vulnerable or traumatized clients about relational techniques based on psychodynamic thinking.

Program's themes and dates:

Session 1: May 13, Understanding and Working with Self-harm

Dr. Chris Nicholson

Chris Nicholson is the head of PPS at the University of Essex. He worked in children's services, primarily therapeutic communities, where he developed an assessment service, a provision for leaving care, and co-founded the Junction Young Person's service for Colchester MIND with colleagues. Children and Adolescents in Trauma: Creative Therapeutic Approaches, published in 2010, is based on these experiences.

Self-harm is described as a morbid form of self-help. But how can behaviours that harm one also be beneficial? This presentation will provide an overview of self-harm, including what it is and what we know about it. Using two case scenarios, the expert will next delve deeper into the underlying causes of self-harm, viewing acts of self-harm as forms of unconscious communication. Following the lecture, Chris will lead a workshop in which the participants can share their experiences and ask questions about the "self-harm spectrum". This first session is a workshop on understanding and working with children who engage in self-harming behaviour.

Session 2: June 14, Why won’t they behave? Why can’t they learn?

Professor Sue Kegerreis

Sue is a Department Professor. She is the MA Psychodynamic Counselling course lead. She is a licensed and practising psychologist who has worked with children and adults in schools, clinics, and the voluntary sector. In 2010, she released Psychodynamic Counselling with Children and Young People.

This presentation will cover some of the less visible elements at work in children who are disruptive or difficult to manage, as well as those who are learning impeded or resistant. This deeper understanding will enable us to devise more effective aid initiatives.

Session 3: June 21, Under Pressure: Therapeutic work in residential children’s homes?

Dr. Chris Nicholson

The residential children's sector is expanding, but there is little agreement on what constitutes a 'therapeutic' model of care, or why both staff and the young people they serve appear to be insecure, with employees under pressure to quit their jobs and youngsters frequently migrating from home to home. In this session, Dr. Nicholson will discuss the psychological elements that lead looked-after youngsters to destroy their last hope – their placement and the residential care workers who supply it. He will explain how highly damaged children's counter-intuitive and self-obstructive behaviours and actions boil down to brutally direct questions: “Am I good enough? Is it possible to love me? Do you want me?”

Session 4: June 29, “Be Yourself": Beyond the screen – a school intervention, using a virtual reality environment for assessment and prevention in children and adolescents with early signs of body image disorder and gender identity difficulties.

Arianna Pulsoni and Dr. Norman Gabriel

Arianna works in the Department as a Lecturer. She also works as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist specialized to treat children and adolescents. She has experience working in both the NHS and schools. She is the head of an international school's well-being and counselling programme. At the Tavistock Clinic, she is currently conducting research on intergenerational family issues and parent work.

Norman is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Childhood Studies and the Director of the newly formed Centre for Childhood Studies. He has brought sociological theories to the multidisciplinary subject of childhood studies, focusing on the social and emotional development of children in society. The Sociology of Early Childhood: Critical Perspectives was written by him in 2017.

During a phase of fast and intensive use of social media, young people suffer persistent uncertainty at a transitional stage in their life and may be more vulnerable to bullying, shame, and idealized body images. BE YOURSELF is the product of careful consideration of the challenges that children and adolescents face when it comes to body image, body perception, body shaming, and related cyberbullying, as well as emotions of "inhabiting the wrong body." This unique solution attempts to analyze children and adolescents' issues and provide them with a virtual environment in which they can explore their emotions and develop potential growth.

Session 5: July 6, Supporting the staff: creating the space to think.

Chris Tanner

Chris Tanner leads the fdA/BA Therapeutic Communication and Therapeutic Organizations programme. He is a Senior Lecturer in the department. He has worked as a teacher and caregiver in schools and therapeutic communities for many years. He is a member of the special education and mental health tribunal service as a specialist. He provides organizational consulting to a variety of government agencies.

This training will focus on how to support staff teams, specifically how to unpack work-related stress, reflect on its various effects, and reclaim thinking space. The workshop will look at case studies, as well as what psychodynamic theory can tell us and how to apply it.

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