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Working Things Out Programme

An evidence-based CBT programme for adolescents (aged 11 to 16) promoting positive mental health and teaching coping skills to overcome specific problems.

Eileen Brosnan, John Sharry, Diane Beattie, Carol Fitzpatrick

WTO aims to help young people build communication and conflict resolution skills in to order to help them improve their relationships within their families, in school and in the community. The programme sessions are designed around a DVD containing personal stories of adolescents who have coped with issues such as Bullying, School Pressures, Conflict with Parents, as well as more specific mental health issues, such as Anxiety, Depression ADHD, OCD, Self-harm and Suicide. Each of the stories are four/five minutes long and are presented as mini-movies with animation, voiceover and a soundtrack. The stories offer advice on how to cope and give ideas on how to improve relationships, things young people can do to help themselves and getting help and support.

Session Topics Include

  • Getting Along with Parents / Carers – Listening, talking and resolving conflicts.
  • Stop and Think – The key to solving problems.
  • Keeping Your Cool – Dealing with anger and conflict.
  • Taking Charge – Developing helpful thinking strategies.
  • What’s Up? – Managing feeling down.

Programme Materials Include WTO covers

  • The Working Things Out DVD containing 14 stories of real young people’s experiences of dealing with mental health difficulties.
  • A comprehensive facilitator’s manual that contains the full text of the DVD stories, background information on the programme, a detailed guide on delivering each group session of the 8 week programme, session handouts and specific information on facilitation of adolescent groups.
  • Parenting Teenagers book (Authors: Eileen Brosnan, John Sharry, Diane Beattie and Carol Fitzpatrick). This book describes a balanced approach to parenting, setting out a step-by-step guide that shows how you can stay supportively involved in your teenager’s life while also being firm.

Training materials are available at the discounted price of €300 per pack if purchased with training. The standard price is €500 per pack if purchased after training.

Upcoming Training Programmes

Facilitator Materials

You may only purchase programme materials without training if you are a facilitator who already has been trained or belong to an agency with staff already trained. Please provide the name of the trained facilitator below.

Facilitator Details

Approximate date in which the course was attended:

Order Parent Booklets

  • Working Things Out Programme Materials
    € 500
    per pack
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Manual Upgrade Guide

In January 2017, the Working Things Programme (WTO) was updated and a fourth edition of the Facilitator Manual was published. You will find some guidelines here on how the manual has been updated.


The Parents Plus Working Things Out Programme is evidence based and several studies attest to its effectiveness in clinical, preventative and community settings PPWTO research link.

  • Clinical Study – Working Things Out:

    Sixty-seven adolescents attending child and adolescent mental health services were randomly allocated to the Working Things Out CBT based group programme or to ‘treatment as usual’. Standardised measures were completed pre- and post-intervention, and at three-month follow-up. Adolescents who completed the Working Things Out programme had a significant reduction in their emotional and behavioural difficulties, and used significantly more ‘good’ coping strategies three months following completion of the programme. Those who received treatment as usual also improved, but their coping strategies failed to improve significantly. The study has been submitted as a PhD thesis in UCD (Brosnan, 2015).

    Clinical Study – Adolescents Programme and Working Things Out:

    In an evaluation of the combined delivery of the Parents Plus Adolescent and Working Things Out programmes (PPAPWTO) targeted at adolescents with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (SEBD), the outcomes of 93 adolescents aged 11–17 years (M = 14.64, SD = 1.31; 39% male) attending Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in Ireland, and their parents were analysed. The study used a quasi-experimental One-Group Pre-test-Post-test design to assess change from pre- to post-intervention using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, the McMaster General Functioning Scale, Goal Attainment, Parent Stress Scale and the Kansas Parenting Satisfaction Scale. Both parent- and adolescent-rated goal attainment and general family functioning improved from pre- to post-intervention. Parents also rated their satisfaction with parenting as having significantly improved. Adolescent-rated emotional difficulties significantly improved for the overall sample and parent-rated child total difficulties for female adolescents significantly improved from pre-test to post-test. Parents of female adolescents also reported a significant drop in parental stress. These findings indicate that the PPAPWTO may be an effective intervention for adolescents with SEBD, particularly females, and their parents. The study was published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health (Wynne, Doyle, Kenny, Brosnan & Sharry, 2016).

    Community Study – Adolescents Programme and Working Things Out:

    In an evaluation of the combined delivery of the Parents Plus Adolescent and Working Things Out Programmes targeted at adolescents with emotional and behavioural difficulties in Irish post-primary schools, the outcomes of 47 participating parents and their adolescent children (mean age being 13.81 years) were analysed. The study used a repeated-measures design to assess change at pre- and post-intervention and five-month follow-up using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (parent and adolescent rated), McMaster General Functioning Scale (parent- and adolescent-rated), Parent Stress Scale, and Kansas Parenting Satisfaction Scale as assessment measures. Parent and adolescent rated behavioural difficulties significantly improved from pre- to post-test, as did parents’ stress and their satisfaction with parenting. These gains were largely maintained at five-month follow-up, although parent stress increased from post-test to follow-up. These findings indicate that the combined PPAPWTO programme may be an effective intervention for adolescents with emotional and behavioural difficulties, and their parents. It was also demonstrated that a cost-effective, manualised family intervention could be effectively rolled out in a post-primary school setting, with delivery and evaluation being conducted by school staff. This study has been published by Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry (Rickard, Brosnan, O’Laoide, Wynne, Keane, McCormack & Sharry, 2015).