July 7, 2021

Professional Development opportunity with Dr. Katharina Manassis, M.D., FRCPC

Renowned child psychiatrist and author to lead online UCalgary course: Assessment, Case Formulation, and Treatment in Child and Youth Mental Health
Portrait of Dr. Katharina Manassis

Assessing mental health problems in children and youths is complex. Losing sight of the need to nurture therapeutic relationships while doing so is all too common. Join acclaimed author, certified child psychiatrist and University of Toronto professor emerita, Dr. Katharina Manassis, M.D., FRCPC, in facing and mastering these challenges in a special online professional development course beginning this September. Participants will learn and apply techniques of mental health assessment, case formulation, treatment planning, and cognitive behavioral intervention in children and youth.

Dr. Manassis practiced for three decades as a Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist, founding and directing the Anxiety Disorders Program for children and youth at the Hospital for Sick Children (HSC), an internationally-acclaimed centre of excellence for clinical service, training, and research.

A Professor of Psychiatry and Applied Psychology at The University of Toronto, and a Professor Emerita since her recent retirement, Dr. Manassis’ is a world-renowned clinician and scholar in the areas of child and adolescent mental health and evidence-based mental health interventions.

She has authored over 90 papers in leading professional journals and 7 widely read books for parents and professionals including Keys to Parenting Your Anxious ChildHelping Your Teenager Beat Depression; and Problem Solving in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy.  Dr. Manassis’ 2014 book titled Case Formulation with Children and Adolescents is considered essential reading for all mental health professionals and is the preeminent source for those seeking to develop, enhance or refine their knowledge and skills regarding assessment, case formulation and treatment planning. Dr. Manassis’ experience and acclaim as a clinician, researcher and educator are rivaled only by her passion and dedication to the mental health and well-being of children, youth and families here in Canada and around the Globe.

Dr. Manassis spoke to us about her course and what participants can expect. 

Q. Would it be fair to say that the crux of the course you’ll be giving this fall is about finding a balance in one’s practice? Meaning managing the complex task of conducting a mental health assessment of a child without losing sight of the need to nurture a therapeutic relationship?

A. I think that that's fair. It's not either/or. It's both. You have to gather lots of information and be thorough, but at the same time you have to do it in a way that's sensitive and that fosters a good connection with the child and the family.

The two also complement each other. If you're asking questions in a sensitive manner and in a way that shows that you know what you're talking about, people are likely to feel understood. When people feel understood, they're going to give you more information and tell you more about what's going on. So, it becomes kind of a virtuous cycle when it works well.

Q. What can participants expect to learn in this course?

A. There are three areas that we're going to address in the course. One is doing a child and youth mental health assessment, including both the information that we gather and the manner in which we elicit it, so that a good relationship is maintained with the people in the room.

The second is the case formulation – putting together the information that helps explain what we see in the room. It’s a hypothesis; sometimes we learn more over time, but it's often a good place to start in terms of treatment planning that goes beyond evidence-based treatment.

Then the third is we're going to look at some basic principles of behavioral and cognitive behavioral intervention, because that's often a very good place to start with children and youth. It’s simple enough that the principles can have an impact without getting too complicated. So, for example, we’re going to talk about some cognitive behavioral principles for anxiety, depression and common behavior problems.

Q. How would a social worker or other allied health professional benefit from taking the course?

A. Some of that is what we've talked about already in terms of understanding, children and youth and where to start with treatment. The other thing is, even if somebody is not primarily a psychotherapist, some of the principles cut across contexts where people work. For example, when children are anxious it really helps alleviate their anxiety to have predictable routines – it's a very, very common principle. That can be applied if someone is planning to transition a child from one placement to another placement – keeping some predictable routines is going to really alleviate anxiety and probably alleviate some behavioral issues.

Also, if we know that learned helplessness is a common part of depression in younger people, then that tells us that maybe just by giving kids small choices about things in their day-to-day lives we can give them a sense that, ‘hey, maybe I do have some say in what happens to me.’ Maybe by offering those small choices they can feel a little more empowered, a little more encouraged, and less likely to be depressed. These are just a couple of examples of principles that that really cut across settings that where people might be working. They are relevant to psychotherapy, but also much beyond that.

For more information and registration, visit the Faculty of Social Work's Professional Development page.