Personal development matters
A guide and step-by-step educational workbook for helping young people aged roughly 11-16 with complex needs to get to know themselves better
By Kathryn Plant

To see sections of this book in a PDF, please click here.

For details of the discounts available on multiple copy purchases of the accompanying Personal Development Workbook, please see the back page of our leaflet here. The leaflet also shows sample worksheet pages.

Providing extra help and support with personal and emotional development to any young person, for whatever reason... this is the goal of the step-by-step workbook in this educational resource, complete with guidance for anyone who is undertaking long-term interventions with young people.

The workbook can be used in or out of education time, with young people who have complex needs, including those who:
  • are 11-16, or perhaps a bit older or younger
  • have complex needs, and are receiving support and intervention from workers, for example those who:
  • are being looked after by the state, (For them, it can also be a useful prelude to doing life story work at a later date.)
  • have special educational needs including those who have statements, whose targets include improving behaviour, increasing self-esteem and expressing emotions more appropriately.
  • are in any other context where workers are struggling to adapt mainstream material for teaching the Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) to one-to-one or small group settings.

  • The Coalition government may change what such work is called, and may even choose to cease declaring that 'Every Child Matters'. But there will still be young people who need the extra help and support that this manual can help provide.

    The introduction can help a wide range of people to prepare for this educational work, including teachers, learning mentors, youth justice workers, social workers, residential care workers, key workers and foster carers. Psychologists, therapists, counsellors and other professionals involved in long-term interventions with young people may also find it useful.

    Many of them have been involved in trialling the workbook contained in this manual. Focussing on personal awareness, feelings, behaviour, relationships, self-esteem and confidence, it builds from safe exploration of tasks and activities that can help forge a positive and trusting relationship between the facilitator and young person; and then explores more difficult issues.

    It can be used either step-by-step, or by using separate sections independently to address specific needs. Ideal for one-to-one sessions, for one hour per week, over the course of a year; it can also be taught in a small group setting by facilitators who are comfortable with the extra demands of such group work; or as needed.

    The worker's manual contains a complete copy of the workbook and ample guidance on its use, for reference by them whenever needed. It permits incidental, partial copying for use in training, and for when working with young people on just a few sections. Significant discounts are available on looseleaf copies of the 190-page workbook (available from the publisher) allowing each young person to work with their own copy over time. Alternative covers - one for boys and one for girls - help engagement in suitably different ways.

    For details of the discounts available on multiple copy purchases of the Personal Development Workbook, please see the back page of our leaflet here. The leaflet also shows sample worksheet pages.

    A4. 224 pages. 978-1-905541-69-0. Published 2011. £29.95.

    The skills taught and practised during the workbook enable the young person to:

    Identify healthy and positive relationships
    Gain a better understanding of difficult relationships
    Identify abusive behaviour
    Enhance coping skills and resilience
    Enhance own empathy
    Increase optimism
    Identify rewards
    Identify positive role models
    Explore own feelings
    Manage expression of emotion more appropriately
    Enhance awareness of body cues
    Use positive self talk
    Protect and support self
    Minimise harm in risky situations
    Explore body image
    Explore personal values
    Identify prejudice and discrimination
    Enhance understanding of their own and others behaviour
    Enhance communication skills
    Recognise personal qualities.


    A wide range of practitioners who work with young people aged 11-16, including teachers and learning mentors, psychologists, therapists and counsellors, Connexions workers, youth justice workers, social workers, residential care workers, key workers, foster carers, and others involved in long-term interventions with young people, for example, health professionals in a mental health unit or family workers supporting young people within their own homes.


    Why does the Personal Development Workbook exist?
    Who this book is for
    What is the Personal Development Workbook?
    Who can deliver the workbook?
    Skills taught and developed during the Personal Development Workbook programme
    Use of the workbook in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
    About the author
    Comments from professionals who have used the workbook
    Copying permission for the manual
    Discount purchase of the loose-leaf sets of the workbook
    Using the workbook
    Summary of the skills needed for effective facilitation
    The schemes of work
    General guidance to all facilitators
    The structure of each session
    Timing: when being used during education; when being used outside education
    Guidance to all facilitators on the first session
    Guidance to teachers and learning mentors
    Guidance to therapists, psychologists and counsellors
    Guidance to professionals that work with young people who offend
    Guidance to social workers, residential social workers and foster carers
    Risk assessments
    When things don't go to plan
    If the workbook is being delivered to a small group
    When a young person moves placement part way through the workbook - continuity
    The end of the workbook
    How to measure the effectiveness of the workbook
    The workbook
    All about ME
    My feelings
    My behaviour
    My relationships
    My self-esteem and confidence


    Kathryn Plant
    has ten years' experience teaching young people who have challenging behaviour and complex needs. She has spent the last five years working with vulnerable looked after young people and has a passion for helping them to develop healthy self-esteem.


    "The content is current and flexible, and the provision of a separate student workbook (available for purchase separately) adds a different dimension to other resources of this nature, ensuring ownership, continuity and progression... a great resource book for anyone wishing to guide and support vulnerable young people on their journey of self-awareness and discovery. Recommended!" Youthwork

    Comments from professionals who have used the workbook:

    "I have now used the workbook with a number of young, looked-after children. I have found it to be an excellent tool for engaging young people, for discussing personal topics in a safe and enjoyable way and for guiding a young person through exercises and tasks to develop their self-awareness. The workbook can be completed at any pace, according to the emotional needs and development level of the person you are working with, which makes it a very flexible and adaptable tool, open to a full range of young people. I have been able to utilise the workbook in a number of different ways. I used the workbook with one young person who was very against specific therapy but was happy to use the workbook within the context of PSHCE. Whilst working through the first section, trust and rapport began to develop, which then led the young person to request therapeutic work in addition to the workbook. Another young person who had grown apprehensive and fearful of therapy and therapists felt comfortable enough to complete the workbook. By focusing in on certain sections we were able to complete some beneficial work and increase her emotional awareness and understanding of herself: she also had a different and more positive attitude to talking about herself and about personal issues. This will undoubtedly benefit her in the long term." Dr Jane Toner - Clinical Psychologist

    "As a teacher of PSHCE working with very vulnerable young people, I have found the workbook an extremely valuable tool. The workbook's foundation in the SEAL (social and emotional aspects of learning) approach guides students in a logical manner through the five key aspects of social and emotional learning - self awareness, managing feelings, motivation, empathy and social skills. I have found that the workbook's conversational friendly script, illustrations, and clear-cut activities motivate the young person to actively participate in and often direct their own learning. The schemes of work that are included offer straightforward assistance to the adult 'coach' leading the sessions. Though I am not a trained PSHCE teacher and have not been teaching it a long time, I have felt confident using this resource and have already seen noticeable improvements in our young people's self-awareness and understanding of their own emotions."Liva Hansen - Teacher

    "I have found the workbook helpful and constructive in aiding therapeutic interventions. From an educational therapeutic perspective it provides a comprehensive and structured way to assist young people with complex psychological needs to begin learning about themselves in a more fun and safe way. Therapeutically it allows the young person to begin understanding emotional difficulty by supporting the development of a formulation-based approach to therapy. I have used the workbook and found it helpful in engaging young people with emotional problems and assisting them to socialise to models of emotional disorders: the chapters incorporating emotions and behaviour have been particularly helpful for this reason. The breadth of the topics included and the structure means I have been able to tailor it: using it both systematically and as individual modules. The layout and exercises included have made difficult engagement work easier for young people, more fun and engaging whilst giving me options I would not have considered using previously. Completing these sections with young people has enabled me to identify important themes for future work, whilst considering where my work sits in relation to wider emotional education needs of young people and how developing an understanding of themselves is important." Simon Lynch - Cognitive Behavioural Therapist