Addressing barriers to engagement - Working with challenging behaviour

There is no universal definition of challenging behaviour, this is partly because whether or not a behaviour is seen to be ‘challenging’ is subjective. Whether a person perceives a young person’s behaviour to be challenging depends on many factors. These may include their social and cultural background,1 role (e.g. a clinician, teacher), previous exposure to the behaviour, relationship with the young person, confidence in their ability to respond in an appropriate way, available support (e.g. clinical management), and the context in which the behaviour presents (e.g. a classroom, an inpatient unit). It is also important to consider whether or not a behaviour is developmentally appropriate.

This clinical practice point focuses on engaging young people (aged 12-25 years) who are presenting with challenging behaviour. It is designed to support clinicians to:

• Appreciate the importance of responding appropriately to challenging behaviour;

• Better understand factors that may contribute to challenging behaviour;

• Reflect on their personal responses to challenging behaviour and how they manage these;

• Identify and address potential barriers to engagement associated with different types of challenging behaviour; and

• Access additional resources and professional development to further develop their skills in engaging, assessing and treating young people exhibiting challenging behaviour.