“You had me at hello”: Engaging Challenging Families Workshop

A free two-part workshop series with Scott Sells for child welfare professionals.


Family engagement is the cornerstone of family-centered practice. Because let’s face it, we can’t work with an empty chair. And without high level caregiver buy in, we risk making the poor decisions about family preservation, reunification and foster care. We want 95% of all caregivers to stay engaged throughout a case process and to accomplish this, we have to start with that first conversation.

In this workshop, Dr. Scott Sells, founder of Parenting with Love and Limits and the Family Trauma Institute (www.familytrauma.com), will discuss the importance of family engagement and provide a conversational tool that can be used by caseworkers, therapists, case managers and anyone working with caregivers. The Motivational Family Systems Technique is a manualized 15 to 20 minute, 7-question script that uses strength-based questions to quickly build rapport with caregivers. This technique results in a “soft start-up” where caregivers have greater readiness to change.

In this cutting-edge workshop, participants will:

• Understand how cultural responsiveness aligns with family engagement;

• Discover how family engagement synchronizes with Prochaska’s Readiness to Change research

• Apply the 7-question Motivational Family Systems Technique;

• Learn how the Motivational Family Systems Technique creates a soft up to work with families vs. the traditional harsh start-up;

• Learn the techniques of “stick and move” and “closing statements”; and

• Adapt the Motivational Family Systems Technique to different client setting and cultures.

This is the first in a two part workshop series with Dr. Scott Sells on family engagement tools. This workshop series is hosted by the Texas Institute for Child & Family Wellbeing and the Texas Center for Child and Family Studies, which is the 501c3 nonprofit arm of the Texas Alliance of Child and Family Services (TACFS). Sponsored by Cynthia Franklin, Ph.D. The next workshop will be held on October 17th with registration opening in September.

Register here


More about the Presenter

Scott Sells, PScott Sellsh.D., LCSW, LMFT, AMFT Approved Supervisor – Founder, Model Developer

Scott Sells holds a Ph.D. in both Marriage and Family Therapy and Social Work from Florida State University. He has over 20 publications and has authored three books entitled: Treating the Traumatized Child:  A Step-by-Step Family Systems Approach (Springer Publishing, 2017), Treating the Tough Adolescent: A Family-Based, Step-by-Step Guide (Guilford Press, 1998) and Parenting Your Out-of-Control Teenager: 7 Steps to Reestablish Authority and Reclaim Love (St. Martin’s Press, 2001). Scott specializes in working with impossible or stuck cases whose families have not been successful with other counselors. Scott was a former Professor of Social Work at Savannah State University in Savannah, GA and Associate Professor at UNLV in Las Vegas, NV. He founded the Parenting with Love and Limits (PLL) model that is being used across the US and Europe. Scott enjoys hiking in Montana, writing, spending quality time with God, and being a husband to his wife, and parent to his twin boys: David and Jonathon.