Collaboration without collusion: effective relationships with service users who have complex needs WORKPLACE TRAINING




March 1, 2020 - 12:00 am


December 31, 2020 - 12:00 am

The professional’s toughest challenge

Professionals are encountering service users who face increasingly complex problems – often a combination of mental distress in correlation with drug or alcohol problems, behaviour which may lead to expulsion from treatment and support, criminal justice involvement, and homelessness.

There is increasing evidence of the effects of early complex trauma on these kinds of problems. However, sometimes familiarity with the causes or reasons for problems does not translate into effective interventions.

Consequently, professionals can find themselves continually intervening to pick up the pieces of crisis behaviours, finding relationships with service users – or with other agencies and professionals – compromised, and feeling hopeless themselves.

In these cases, traditional social care interventions – brief, and focused on practical outcomes such as resolving the immediate problems (eg housing and benefits) – may fall short. The underlying issues driving the practical problems and crises still exist – avoidance, aggression, short periods of motivation followed by lapse, apparent unwillingness to acknowledge or work on addictions – so even after supporting people to address the immediate problems, clients may fall right back out of housing, benefits, and the best-crafted solutions!

Where there are high levels of emotion, these may translate as anger, and it can be difficult to engage effectively with people who present with challenging attitudes (‘my only problem here is YOU’ or ‘the man upstairs’), or who avoid interaction entirely.

Psychotherapy and psychological approaches are developing effective interventions with people who experience complex relating problems such as personality disorders, which often arise in a context of trauma.

However, social care professionals are frequently working in completely different environments, with clients who are not apparently motivated to engage in intensive therapeutic work, and may appear very ambivalent about change.

How can professionals support even the clients who are grappling with the most complex problems, or who may appear most ‘resistant to change’, to begin to turn towards a more positive relationship with the likelihood of better outcomes?

Collaboration without collusion is a learning day designed to help with these questions.

The facilitator will draw on some of the latest evidence informing the field of severe personality disorders and complex trauma, to support better understanding of what underpins repeated crisis presentations and difficulties in maintaining relationships.

She will also draw on evidence-based therapeutic approaches for mental distress and personality disorders such as Mentalisation Based Treatment, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, showing how techniques from these approaches can be used in everyday, non-clinical settings.

Key facts:

  • The training will take place at your workplace, or at a venue designated by you.
  • This is the most cost-effective way to get training from an experienced practitioner in the room with you.
  • We are offering a nine month open contract – this is really special! It means quite simply that, if you need to close your workplace, or you have a large number of staff unavailable, we will re-arrange for another date within the nine month period. Equally, if our trainer is not available due to sickness, we will either find a substitute or re-arrange the date with you. This format has been introduced to maximise flexibility and make it easier for training to continue while the COVID 19 virus is around.
  • You can choose to mix and match the topics covered, and we will discuss this agenda with the presenter. The presenter will speak to you directly well before the training is due to take place in order to understand your exact expectations and to learn more about the attendees.
  • You can choose a half day or full day training, and we will work to your timings. We will agree content and agenda with you.
  • Hard copy summary information for attendees will be provided
  •  The cost of the training will comprise a training fee, hotel/evening meal/breakfast (if needed) for the night before, travel expenses, and VAT. The training fee depends upon the number to be trained, and your specific requirements. We do our best to price so your organisation can afford it.
  • It will be the booking organisation’s responsibility to arrange and pay for any venue, audio visual costs and catering. Our facilitator will usually be happy to bring a lap top. We will discuss AV equipment carefully when you talk to us about your training.



Felicity Reed is an Adult Psychotherapist and UKCP accredited Supervisor with a background in understanding and supporting people who experience mental distress in complex circumstances, such as in homelessness, substance abusing, criminal justice and emergency service contexts. She has worked for almost twenty years as a practitioner, leader and service designer, creating new ways to meet the needs of those who do not fit easily into traditional support and who, as a consequence, may present with challenging, distressing or offending behaviours. Felicity currently works supporting families with complex needs, many of whom have had multiple children taken into care.

The key information we need to know is:

  • Which topic(s)?
  • When?
  • Where?
  • Will this run once or more than once?
  • How many attendees?
  • Any special factors you would like us to consider?


  • We will check out availability with the trainer and liaise with you


  • When the training details are agreed on both sides we will send you a simple agreement which sets out the key terms


  • The trainer will speak directly with you well before the training is due to take place. We will also liaise with you relating to any admin details.


  • It’s that simple and we very much look forward to working with you.