Collaboration without collusion: how to create and maintain effective relationships with service users who have complex problems

13 October

Clayton Hotel



October 13, 2020 - 9:30 am


October 13, 2020 - 3:45 pm


Clayton Hotel, Birmingham B5 5JE   View map

The professional’s toughest challenge

Professionals are encountering service users facing 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.

Felicity Reed 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.

Summary of the learning day

  • Using a trauma lens to understand crisis-led behaviour
  • Comprehending short-termism – clients who say “I want to do this” and yet disengage from the process after initial success
  • Understanding, and working more effectively to support, people grappling with repeated problems such as consecutive abusive relationships
  • Moving away from an exclusive focus on concrete demands (‘all my problems will be solved by a 1 bed flat’)?
  • Engaging with people who might appear to be very avoidant or hopeless
  • De-escalating a blaming/crisis response, and using the crisis to move into a reflective and helpful conversation
  • Using honest reflection as an opportunity to be truly supportive rather than critical
  • Keeping clients on board while saying things they might not want to hear
  • Anticipating and responding to rupture in professional/service user relationships effectively

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 for PAUSE in Southwark, supporting women with complex needs, many of whom have had multiple children taken into care.

Delegate fee:

 £135 + VAT = £162

*Team of 3 (3rd person attends for half price) £345 + VAT = £414

*Team of 5 (5th person attends for free) £550 + VAT = £660

ring 0115 916 3104 for details.


Included in the delegate package:

  • Delegate pack
  • Lunch
  • Refreshments available throughout the day


Booking Terms and Conditions

Cancellations received up to and including 22 September 20 will be refunded in full less an administration fee of 25%. Cancellations received after this date will be liable for payment in full.

*Team bookings are non-cancellable but substitute delegates will always be accepted.

The full invoice amount will remain payable if you fail to attend the event, however, substitute delegates will be accepted up until, and including, the day of the event.



Confirmation of booking:

Your booking will be confirmed by email where possible (and by fax or post otherwise), and you will be provided with directions to the venue and details on nearby hotel accommodation. If you do not receive such acknowledgement, please contact Central Conference Consultants Ltd on 0115 916 3104.

Agenda (subject to change)

9.30 – 9.45

Registration and coffee

9.45 – 10.15

Welcome and aims of the day

10.15 – 11.30

Trauma and the Brain

11.30 – 11.45


11.45 – 1.00

Mentalising – 10 Top Tips

1.00 – 1.45


1.45 -3.45

5 Mentalisation Based Treatment Techniques in social care practice

3.45 – 4.00

Review of Learning

  • Adults’ and children’s social workers
  • Family Support Workers and other professionals supporting families with complex problems
  • Family Liaison Officers
  • Family Nurse Practitioners and health visitors
  • Adoption and fostering social workers
  • Mental health services including CAMHS
  • Community health professionals
  • Charities supporting children and young people
  • Youth offending services
  • Substance misuse services
  • Domestic abuse professionals
  • Homeless services
  • Housing services
  • Support organisations like Victim Support, Citizen’s Advice Bureaux and advocacy service
  • Police

The training will take place in Birmingham City Centre:

Clayton Hotel

Albert Street
Birmingham B5 5JE

Venue telephone  – 0121 726 3200

Directions can be found on the venue website


Moor Street Station is about 2 minutes walk or 10 minutes from New Street station; taxis are readily available outside both stations.

Car parking

Guests are offered special rates at nearby Selfridges Moor Street Car Park, 4 minutes walk from the hotel.

Off-site parking is available at nearby Selfridges Moor Street, 4 minutes’ walk from the hotel, at a special rate of £11.00 per exit.

Selfridges Moor Street Car Park

27 Park St, Birmingham B5 5JH
Tel: +44 121 632 1500

Price £11.00 per exit (please validate your carpark ticket at reception to receive the discounted rate).


NCP High Street Car Park
High Street, Dale End, Birmingham B4


The venue has rooms available to book

There are many other hotels also available in Birmingham