Searching for Fresh Approaches Working with Challenging Behaviours

Posted: 2018-01-28
Written by: EU Network
Category: Europe
Tagged: youth aproach youth young people social exclusion philosophy opportunities mobility challenging behaviour

Human being is more a verb than a noun. Each of us is unfinished, a work in progress. There is no person with challenging behaviour but challenging behavior.   We all want to feel included in everyday life, right? On various occasions  young people coming from disadvantaged backgrounds, that are institutionalized, have a disability or a mental illness tend to be treated only as a clinical case and have a solution prepared for them. These young people tend to have bleak future prospectives and are sometimes not even allowed to dream, have a vision or shape their own future.


Drawing done by Derek Wilson.

The European Union Youth Strategy clearly states that: "The social exclusion and poverty of young people and the transmission of such problems between generations should be prevented and mutual solidarity between society and young people strengthened. Equal opportunities for all should be promoted and all forms of discrimination combated". In fact, targeting young people with fewer opportunities has long been a pillar of the European Union's work in the youth field, notably through project funding for organisations working in this area.

Three active youth leaders and three youth workers from Latvia, tavelled to Malta to and took part in  Erasmus+  Mobility for youth workers Training Course ‘’ FABRIC: Fresh Approaches to Behaviour and Relationships when working with young people with challenging behaviour’’.  The aim of the training course was to explore a relationship-based approach and to give participants an opportunity to think more deeply about reasons why young people do the things they do and what is the role of youth worker and adults in creating, sustaining and changing youth behaviours.


Drawing done by Derek Wilson.

Training course gathered together youth workers, trainers, volunteers  and youth leaders working directly with young people in Malta, Latvia, Romania and United Kingdom.  Framework of the international mobility provided a space  to  participants to reflect on their attitudes and practice in relation to young people’s behaviour and relationship-building. Through innovative tools and methods, the participants had an opportunity to understand positive behaviour change and how this can be used to work with young people who are normally difficult to work with.  Improving behaviour and strengthening relationships will of course benefit the professionals, however, it will also have a very positive impact on the young people themselves.


“Challenging behaviour is challenging for us, the people around the young person, their families, carers and teachers. In the face of this behaviour, we often find ourselves at a loss. We don’t know how to turn things around, how to make the situation tenable, how to help the young person get back on track, behaving appropriately and feeling good about themselves.” / B. Kaiser, S. Rasminsky /

The name of the group taking care of this Training Course was Empowering Youth in Care which falls under the Conservatorio Vincenzo Bugeja.  Conservatorio Vincenzo Bugeja provides residential care for adolescent girls of any race, sexual orientation or religion with psychological, emotional, behavioral and/or social difficulties. Personalised professional interventions consist of individual and group therapy, counseling and intensive youth care interventions within a therapeutic environment. This holistic approach service is based on dignity and respect that empowers residents to acquire the necessary social and personal skills to help them reintegrate positively back to society or into their family. A care plan is formulated together with the residents and includes their residential stay, health, education and employment, contacts with families and other professionals, and long term placement.


Group therapy is held every fortnight in each of the Homes.   Attendance for therapy sessions is not enforced on any of the residents. Experience has shown that coercing residents into treatment has not been successful and that they don’t engage.  Those residents who are resistant to participate in group therapy, are still given individual attention by the therapists while they are at the Home. These sessions have paved the way for several residents to choose to start engaging in one-to-one therapy sessions.


The Empowering Youth in Care is a group of young people who are employed as youth workers at Conservatorio Vincenzo Bugeja. As an informal group, Empowering Youth in Care organises a number of events and activities for the residents at Conservatorio Vincenzo Bugeja. They participate in various training, seminars and conferences,. that contribute to their professional development. Empowering Youth in Care values also the importance of front line care working staff and the ongoing need for all trained in different skills pertaining to this type of work with this client group.


Building of Conservatorio Vincenzo Bugeja in Malta.

Training course was designed for practicioners through practical tips and techniques addressing the following objectives:
● Reinforce and affirm good practice;
● Re-energise, stimulate and challenge thinking about inclusion of young people with challenging behaviour;
● Increased understanding about behaviour and emotions and gain confidence in managing young people with challenging behaviour;
● Access a wider range of practical strategies to impact on behaviour challenges;
● Give participants the opportunity to reflect on professional attitudes and learn new skills and processes.

The training course was held by Derek Wilson and Colin Newton: team of  psychologists who specialise in mainstream inclusion for disabled and challenging children and adults.  Both trainers make available cutting edge practical strategies and ideas for developing effective inclusion in local mainstream schools and communities. They work with anyone who wants to bring about the real systems changes that are necessary to move towards a truly inclusive society. ‘’Inclusive Solutions ‘’ was founded in 2001 by Colin Newton and Derek Wilson and is now in its 13th year of providing accessible interactive training on all aspects of inclusive practice in education settings and beyond. Over the past 13 years they have worked very regularly with educators in a wide range of schools, settings and local authorities across the United Kingdom. Colin Newton has an MSc. Educational Psychology, BSc. Psychology, PGCE and is a Special tutor University of Nottingham (AEP, HCPC registered). Derek Wilson has an MA Psychology and MA Child Psychology.


Training Course ‘’ FABRIC: Fresh Approaches to Behaviour and Relationships when working with young people with challenging behaviour’’ was implemented within the European Union program Erasmus+ KA1 and Latvian partner was Non - Governmental Organization ‘’Donum Animus’’. Erasmus+ KA1 program provides opportunities for individuals to improve their skills, enhance their employability and gain cultural awareness. Beneficiaries are able to spend a period of time in another participating country gaining valuable experience of life, study and work with the aim of increasing the opportunities available to them in the future. Key Action 1 is the largest action in Erasmus+ with focus on increasing mobility and skills.


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