Can We Teach These Kids to Dance: Responding Effectively to Problematic Sexual Behavior in Children and Adolescents

Friday, March 29, 2019, 9:00 AM—4:00 PM
Can We Teach These Kids to Dance: 
Responding Effectively to Problematic Sexual Behavior in Children and Adolescents
Kevin Creeden, MA, LMHC

This training will describe a treatment approach to sexual behavior problems in children and adolescents that focuses on addressing developmental competencies that have been impacted by the child’s experience of trauma and/or by disruptions in attachment. The theoretical foundation utilizes current research on child and adolescent brain development as well as the neurodevelopmental impact of trauma. There is an emphasis on stable and secure attachment relationships as the basis for emotional and behavioral self-regulation and adaptive problem solving that serve as the foundation for developmental competencies.

An increasing body of research has highlighted the neuro-developmental impact of   trauma and/or the persistent exposure to a range of adverse experiences in childhood (DeBellis, 2005; Teicher, et al 2002; Perry, 2001).  The exposure and adaptation to these experiences have been shown to have immediate and long-term effects across various domains of development including: biology, attachment, emotional regulation, behavioral control, cognition, and self-concept (Fishbein, et al 2009; Cook, et al 2005; Shonk and Cicchetti, 2001).  Since many of the youth we treat come to us with their own histories of trauma and disrupted attachments, it is imperative that a neuro-developmental understanding of trauma help inform our treatment interventions.

This approach recognizes the sequential nature of the developmental process and the need to have basic developmental skills like attunement, sensory integration, body awareness, and self-regulation in place before higher order demands like social-emotional communication and adaptive problem-solving can be met (Creeden, 2013; Bergman & Creeden, 2011; Perry 2006).  Interventions that focus on “bottom-up” rather than “top down” neurological processing that seek to enhance client capacities in these foundation skills in a manner that mirrors a healthy and adaptive developmental trajectory will be discussed and demonstrated.

Following this training the participants will be able to:

• Apply research on the neurological impact of early trauma and attachment experiences to the treatment of sexual behavior problems.
• Describe a developmental treatment model for treating problematic sexual behavior.
• Describe how this approach impacts treatment planning and risk assessment.
• Demonstrate specific interventions that demonstrate how this treatment approach is utilized in practice



Kevin Creeden, M.A., LMHC is the Director of Assessment and Research at the Whitney Academy in East Freetown, MA. He has over 35 years of clinical experience treating children, adolescents, adults and families working extensively with sexually and physically aggressive youth.

Over the past 25 years, his primary focus has been on issues of trauma and attachment difficulties, especially with regard to the neurological impact of trauma on behavior and he has authored several articles and book chapters on the neurodevelopmental impact of trauma on sexual behavior problems.

In the past, Mr. Creeden has served as the president of the Massachusetts chapter of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC), a Teaching Fellow at Boston College, an Instructor in Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, and a guest faculty at the Boston University School of Social Work. Presently, he is a guest faculty at the Simmons School of Social Work Advanced Training Program in Trauma-Focused Treatment. Mr. Creeden trains and consults both nationally and internationally to youth service, community, forensic services and mental health service agencies.

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