Helping Families with Troubled Children: A Preventive Approach

Helping Families with Troubled Children: A Preventive Approach

Helping Families with Troubled Children: A Preventive Approach

Helping Families with Troubled Children: A Preventive Approach


In 'Helping Families with Troubled Children' Carole Sutton stresses the importance of attempting to work with families before difficult behaviour becomes entrenched and resistant to intervention, preferably at or before the age of 2 years. Drawing on social learning theory and cognitive behavioural principles, she provides a structured approach to intervention (ASPIRE -Assessment, planning, implementation, review and evaluation) and guides practitioners to work supportively with parents.

Updated with the latest research findings in a number of areas of children's difficulties, specific chapters address sleep problems, anxiety and depression, eating problems, wetting and soiling, serious behaviour problems and ADHD.


One in 10 children in Great Britain aged 5–16 had a clinically recognisable mental disorder in 2004. This was the same as the proportion recorded in the 1999 survey of the Mental Health of Children and Adolescents in the United Kingdom (Department of Health 2000a).


The introduction to the first edition of this book, published in 1999, noted the deep public concern about ‘the numbers of children who, themselves clearly unhappy, are causing heartache to their families and exasperation to their teachers’. It reported data from the Department of Health in 1995 indicating that, depending on the location studied, between 6% and 10% of 10-year-old children displayed aggressive, disruptive and destructive conduct, whereas between 4% and 9.9% showed emotional disorders: anxiety, phobias and depression. Now, well into the twenty-first century, the percentages are almost unchanged. Data from National Statistics Online (2004) are shown in Table 1.1.

How has this desperate situation come about and and how is it that, despite considerable efforts in recent years, it is unchanged?


There have, of course, been huge efforts since the mid-1990s to put in place preventive services, particularly for those living in the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods. The Sure Start initiatives, now developing into Children’s Trusts, are attempts to offer services at the point of need: in pregnancy, infancy and in the earliest years of life. How far they will be able to do so will be revealed by rigorous evaluation.

Similarly, establishing Child and Adolescent Mental Health Teams in every part of the country has provided desperately needed resources for supporting the families of troubled children in the community. These teams . . .

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