Talking to Children about Difficult Things: Understanding emotional communication in challenging and turbulent contexts

Course overview

Perhaps now more than ever, social workers and others in allied professions frequently need to talk to children and young people about difficult and painful issues, whether this is as a result of child protection concerns, bereavements or in respect of decisions being made about their lives. These circumstances can be stressful and can make even the most experienced practitioners feel daunted and ill-equipped for the task.

Join us virtually via Zoom for three half days, where we will consider thoughts and practices from different modalities including developmental, behavioural, psychoanalytic and child centred theories. These will help us gain a better understanding of the importance of effective communication in difficult times, reasons as to why children and young people disengage from us/our services and practical tools we can use to communicate in a way that children and young people relate to.

From our experience, practitioners who attend this course bring unique expertise and in order to utilise and build on this we will be using a mix of theory-based lectures, discussion, reflective practice to consider different real-life situations, and small group work. The sessions will be a safe and vibrant place for attendees to discuss any concerns and share best practice.

Participants will:

  • Identify the difficulties associated with this work and their source.
  • Identify the emotional and practical preparation required when needing to talk to children about difficult issues.
  • Gain relevant knowledge of children and young people’s communication, the psychological processes that take place in communication and (often) the underlying meaning of it all. 
  • Learn how to use a developmental perspective in order to communicate effectively with children and young people; focusing specifically on play as symbolic communication and engaging adolescents.
  • Explore and implement a range of communication tools that can be used in practice to facilitate children and young people’s wishes and feelings.

This course is suitable for all practitioners working with children and young people (aged 3-16) in difficult contexts and who have some hands-on experience communicating with children, mainly in challenging circumstances. 

Previous participants have included learning mentors/youth workers at a special unit for children with behavioural problems, residential workers, qualified social workers, SENDCos, medical doctors who work in the non-accidental emergency units for children and practitioners in several charities. 

Adi Steiner, Senior Clinical Social Worker, Psychodynamic Psychotherapist, lecturer and supervisor 

"Extremely knowledgeable, experienced facilitator who managed the group effectively." 

"The range of tools was very useful. Great encouragement to think from different perspectives and to challenge what we may avoid ourselves".

“There’s such a vast amount of knowledge and subjects to cover in such a short course but the contents of the course was excellent. Thank for three extremely informative days”

This course will be delivered remotely using Zoom. This is very easy and safe to use regardless of your level of IT skill.
You will need a device with a microphone and camera together with a suitably fast internet connection. Although mobile devices and tablets can be used, we recommend the use of laptop or desktop PC for the best experience. Some devices provided by employers may have restrictions in place. Please use this test link ( to check your set up before booking.
Additional resources for this course will be provided using Moodle, our virtual learning environment.
You will be sent joining instructions including all the necessary login links, passwords and guidance on how to use the relevant functionality about a week before the course start date.

Should you have any concerns about the accessibility of remote delivery please contact us at to discuss how we can best help you.

The course will run from 9.00am - 12.30pm on the following dates, 18, 25 October and 1 November 2021


To book, please click on the green 'Apply' button on the left of your screen

Certificate of attendance
Monday mornings
Admission status:
18 October 2021 09:00 to 1 November 2021 12:30
Course lead:
Adi Steiner

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