Digital Seminar

Oppositional and Defiant Children & Adolescents: Family-Based Treatment Solutions for Aggression, Disrespect and Other Extreme Behaviors

Out of Control behaviour involves the entire family – shouldn’t your treatment do the same?

The parent’s mantra of “just fix my kid” isn’t the most effective because while you can make some progress individually, relapse rates skyrocket when the child returns to the same unhealthy patterns/behaviours/ environment. Oppositional and Defiant children and adolescents are often referred to treatment because of extreme emotional or behaviour problems – aggression, disrespect, skipping school, self-harm, suicide, running away – and not the underlying trauma and unhealthy family dynamics that are the real cause of the problem.

Watch Dr. Scott Sells, founder of the Family Systems Trauma (FST) Model and creator of Parenting with Love and Limits®, to learn 7 must have, evidence-based techniques for assessing and treating the oppositional and defiant child or adolescent in a whole new way.

Under Dr. Sells’ expert guidance, you’ll discover how you can:

  • Engage and motivate even your most resistant children, parents, and families
  • Use step-by-step tools with handouts and scripts to use immediately with clients
  • Identify the underlying reason for defiance and what are called “undercurrents” to quickly find the solution
  • Keep your sessions strength-based and solution-oriented
  • Empower parents to heal trauma, improve boundaries, and restore attachment
  • Overcome the most common treatment roadblocks that frustrate you and your client

If you’re treating out of control children and their parents, you need these techniques in your clinical toolbox - purchase today!


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Scott Sells, PhD, MSW, LCSW, LMFT
6 Hours 31 Minutes
Jan 22, 2021
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Digital Seminar - Also available: DVD
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Continuing Professional Development Certificates - PESI Australia, in collaboration with PESI in the USA, offers quality online continuing professional development events from the leaders in the field at a standard recognized by professional associations including psychology, social work, occupational therapy, alcohol and drug professionals, counselling and psychotherapy. On completion of the training, a Professional Development Certificate is issued after the individual has answered and submitted a quiz and course evaluation. This online program is worth 6.5 hours CPD.



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Scott P. Sells, Ph.D., MSW, LCSW, LMFT, is former tenured professor of social work, Savannah State University, Savannah, GA and Associate Professor at UNLV in Las Vegas, NV. Dr. Sells is the author of three best-selling books, Treating the Tough Adolescent: A Family-Based, Step-by-Step Guide (1998), Parenting Your Out-of-Control Teenager: 7 Steps to Reestablish Authority and Reclaim Love (2001), and Treating the Traumatized Child: A Step-by-Step Family Systems Approach (Springer, 2017). He has over 20 publications in such periodicals as Psychotherapy Networker, Contemporary Corrections, Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse, Professional Issues in Criminal Justice, Family Process, and Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, plus book chapters in the Handbook of Family Therapy Research Methods (1996) and Social Worker’s Desk Reference, 2/E (2008).

Dr. Sells has extensive experience as a keynote speaker for the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, the National Association of Social Workers, the Southeastern Psychological Association, and others. He was invited to be one of six expert presenters at the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy’s prestigious Summer Institutes as well as the world-renowned Cape Cod Institute. Dr. Sells is currently the founder and model developer of an evidence-based model as the FST | Family Systems Trauma Model that is being used by both juvenile justice and child welfare in over 14 states and in Europe.


Speaker Disclosure:

Financial: Scott Sells is the owner of Savannah Family Institute, Inc. He receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc.

Non-financial: Scott Sells has no relevant non-financial relationship to disclose.

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  1. Evaluate the connection between extreme behaviour and an upside-down hierarchy and family trauma.
  2. Integrate a 7-question Motivational Script to motivate the toughest parents to show up and cooperate.
  3. Utilize therapeutic tools, scripts, and handouts to more effectively treat oppositional and defiant behaviours.
  4. Assess “toxic seeds” and “undercurrents”, or hidden causes of a child or adolescent’s extreme behaviours within the family to increase the effectiveness of treatment.
  5. Create clinical treatment plans using playbooks to address the specific needs of each client/family.
  6. Utilize various scaling techniques to evaluate progress in treatment and identify potential risks for relapse.
  7. Analyze when it is appropriate to begin active treatment as opposed to stabilization of extreme behaviours to ensure the safety of the child and family members.


Oppositional and Defiant Children and What Makes Them Tick

  • Long-term impact of out of control behaviour and an upside-down hierarchy
  • Why family trauma so often the cause but unseen and untreated
  • “Teen terrorism” and how it defeats both parents and counsellors
  • “Rules without relationships” lead to an out of control child
  • Video case example: Interactional Trauma: A single parent mom and child who are both out of control

Importance of Including the Parent/Caregiver in Treatment

  • Motivate your toughest parents so they will show up and cooperate
  • A 7-question script to start and end treatment
  • Move quickly beyond the roadblock of “just fix my kid”
  • The “stick and move” technique and “closing arguments” to set the terms of treatment
  • How to use the Motivational Phone Call to engage the extended family
  • Case example: Listen to an actual motivational phone call

Assessment and Diagnosis Quickly and Accurately

  • Scale from 0% (no stress) to 100% (total stress) to quickly get to the child’s problem(s)
  • Four toxic seeds and undercurrents that maintain the child’s extreme behaviour or symptoms
  • Assess for the child’s safety stressors
    • Self-harm, suicide, bullying, aggression, drug use, etc.
  • Rules for when to stabilize the child’s extreme behaviours and when to start active trauma treatment
  • Set goals of therapy with defiant kids that actually work
  • Video case example: “Knowing where to tap” to locate the root causes of the child’s out of control behaviour

How to Set Clear Rules, Boundaries, and Emotional Warm-Ups: Create a customized playbook

  • Is clear, written, and pre-determined to set up both child and family for success, not failure
  • Heals the stronghold of shame, blame, performance and approval
  • Locates the child’s love language
  • Neutralizes the child’s “five aces” of running away, truancy, safety issues, aggression and disrespect
  • Video case examples: “Extreme kids and Written Playbooks that Work”

Why Parents Must Practice Delivery and Think Two Steps Ahead

  • Why defiant kids are master button pushers and using button busters to stop it
  • Why dress rehearsals to practice delivery and troubleshooting to think two steps ahead is so needed
  • How to set-up and execute the best dress rehearsals and troubleshooting of your life
  • Video case example: Watching a great dress rehearsal unfold and seeing immediate change in the child

Relapse Prevention to Achieve Permanent Changes in the Defiant Child and Family

  • Mini-scales technique: The child and family taking credit for the changes
  • Map out next steps of treatment and beyond
  • Identify red flags to prevent potential relapse
  • Video case example: See the mini-scales and decision tree techniques in action

Using Client Feedback to Improve Outcomes

  • 5 key questions to ask at the end of each session to instantly get better outcomes in real time
  • How real-time client feedback will improve outcomes
  • How to elicit honest responses from clients and families
  • Delivery vs. content: It’s not what you say but how you say it
  • Video case example: “We finally feel a part of the treatment”

Limitations of the Research and Potential Risks

Target Audience

  • Counselors
  • Social Workers
  • Psychologists
  • Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Speech-Language Pathologists
  • Teachers
  • School Guidance Counselors
  • Case Managers
  • Nurses
  • School Administrators
  • Educational Paraprofessionals
  • Occupational Therapists & Occupational Therapy Assistants
  • Other Helping Professionals that Work with Children


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Your satisfaction is our goal and our guarantee. Concerns should be addressed to: PO Box 1000, Eau Claire, WI 54702-1000 or email

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