Resilient young people in addiction treatment

Alfa-Fredensborg has just launched a collaboration with the Danish National Board of Health and Welfare and the Danish Committee for Health Education to increase the mentalisation, agency and social skills of young people in care. The ability to mentalize should be understood as the ability to think thoughts about one’s own and others’ thoughts. Through mentalisation, you get to know your own thoughts and feelings and understand how they influence actions and behaviour. In the coming year, our staff will receive a competence boost in the form of training in the knowledge and inspiration programme ROBUSTHED.DK, which is based on known knowledge from psychology, neuroscience and pedagogy. ROBUSTHED.DK can be used for general well-being work and health promotion and in relation to specific challenges of the target group, and it contains the following elements:

  • Knowledge about resilience, thoughts, emotions and the brain, which can provide a better understanding of how the human mind works and is affected by internal and external factors.
  • Illustrations, stories and cases that can serve as a starting point for reflections on your own and others’ behaviour, thoughts and feelings.
  • Games and exercises that strengthen mentalisation skills.
  • Interactive tests, training and action plans to strengthen mentalisation skills.
  • A participatory blog where users can share reflections and experiences.

Although Alfa-Fredensborg has been working with similar methods and theories in its daily work with young people in care for a number of years, there is great enthusiasm among the staff who participate in the training. After the first days of the course, several mentioned that they had been given tools that could be used immediately to help young people eliminate self-harming thoughts and create a resilient inner self. Jeanette Lindén, team leader at Alfa-Fredensborg, says: “The staff will get practical tools for the ongoing treatment at Alfa-Fredensborg in a language that addresses vulnerable citizens in a critical situation and they will develop techniques to move young people from alarm stages, for example by using imagery.” In this context, a simple understanding of the brain as divided into the Thinking Brain and the Alarm Brain is worked with. The thinking brain refers to brain functions that are specific to humans and enable reflection and perspective-taking. The alarm brain helps create emotional reactions and is activated when you feel uncomfortable or scared, for example. Knowing about the Alarm Brain and how to calm it helps you to better manage anger, aggression and frustration. When the staff finish the training in August 2018, a lot of work will be done to implement the tools from ROBUSTHED.DK in-house and to teach the young people themselves to master the techniques. At the end of the project in 2019, we hope that the concepts from ROBUSTHED.DK will be everyday language at Alfa-Fredensborg and that the tools will be natural to use when young people – as well as the other residents of the house – need to rest the Alarm Brain and instead use the Thinking Brain. Please contact Jeanette Lindén at or 48 40 40 60 if you want to know more about the project.