Moving Beyond Stuckness: Addressing Substance Use and Trauma Among Teens

Teens seeking mental health services often have substance use issues, trauma histories, or both. As a result, they often seem stuck in endless cycles of maladaptive behaviors, experiencing multiple treatment failures and frustrating even the most dedicated professional helpers. Over time, these teens can seem apathetic, ambivalent, or completely resistant.

Join presenter David Flack for this special online workshop to deepen your understanding of these challenging topics and develop the clinical skills to help these teens get unstuck. Grounded in twenty years of clinical experience, this workshop is packed with practical strategies, stories from the field, and a bit of inspiration.

First half: Substance Use in Teens

Nearly half of all teens receiving mental health services have a diagnosable substance use disorder. Unfortunately, most mental health counselors have little training or experience when it comes to substance use among teens, so these concerns go overlooked and unaddressed.

We will start the morning segment of this workshop by exploring the stages of substance use, diagnostic criteria, and common co-morbid mental health disorders. Next, we will consider reasons that teens use and the stuckness that can develop. Then, we will examine several field-tested approaches for addressing substance use in teens, including ideas for cultivating rapport, fostering change, and getting unstuck.

Second half: Trauma in Teens

Two-thirds of all Americans experience some form of trauma by age 16. If left untreated, this can lead to a variety of emotional, behavioral, and developmental concerns – leading to increased mental health challenges, substance-related issues, school failures, and other issues.

In the afternoon segment of this workshop, we will deepen our understanding of the ways that trauma impacts teens, identify the active ingredients for successful trauma therapy, and explore clinical strategies for treating trauma in teens. Inspired by motivational interviewing, narrative therapy, and trauma-informed approaches, these strategies will increase engagement, improve treatment outcomes, and help teens move forward.

Presenter: David Flack

David Flack is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Chemical Dependency Professional (CDP), with additional credentials as a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional, Child Mental Health Specialist and Sexual Minority Mental Health Specialist. He holds a Post-Master’s Certificate in Trauma-Informed Care and Counseling and has credentials or advanced training in several evidence-based programs. For twenty years, David has worked with teens and families impacted by substance use, trauma, and mental health challenges – as a therapist, substance abuse counselor, experiential educator, and clinical supervisor. In private practice since 2017, he meets with teens and emerging adults addressing depression, trauma, and co-occurring disorders. Prior to entering private practice, he spent 15 years in community mental health agencies, primarily as an adolescent co-occurring disorders therapist. In addition to his clinical work, David regularly provides well-received continuing education programs both regionally and nationally. He has also presented for non-profit agencies, county-sponsored events, and over 100 times at international, national, and regional conferences — including multiple presentations at conferences of the American Counseling Association, American Mental Health Counseling Association, and Association of Experiential Education.