School Refusal: By Hook or by Crook


School Refusal: By Hook or by Crook

Presented by Dr Shannon Morton, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist

School refusal is considered a psychiatric emergency by Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists. The longer it goes on, the lower the chances of a young person re-engaging with education, and the worse their prognosis is long-term, with all measures of well-being and productivity. Research demonstrates that only a third of those with prolonged school dis-engagement will return to complete their education. Furthermore, prolonged school refusal often leads to long-term unemployment and significant social and health consequences. Early and assertive intervention not only saves the tax-payer considerable amounts in avoiding welfare, criminal justice, and healthcare costs, but prevents significant human suffering, and may even save lives. You have the power to change the entire trajectory of a young person’s life, if you can achieve “Mission Impossible”, and help them return to school or training. Join Dr Shannon Morton (aka Dr Kooky), Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, in going bravely into often difficult terrain to help these young people from ending up in the “too hard basket” and, ultimately, “on the scrap heap” of life.

Dr Morton will share her passion for finding the student’s “school-based Ikigai” to motivate them to overcome their fears and challenges (the hook), and utilise new technologies to cost-effectively build community and mobilise “the village” (the crooks), so no child “falls through the cracks”.

See below for full workshop description and Dr Shannon Morton's Bio.

2024 DATES

Virtual: Thursday 15th February
Virtual: Thursday 7th March

Virtual: Thursday 13th June
Virtual: Thursday 15th August
Townsville: Thursday 5th September
Virtual: Thursday 17th October
* Please note: virtual workshop is an online full day event. It will NOT be recorded for future viewing by participants.

All workshops are 9am - 4pm


ACTIVE CPD HOURS: This workshop has an optional post workshop assessment. Delegates who complete this assessment are able to claim 6 hours of Active CPD.

CPD Hours: All other delegates are able to claim 6 hours of self identified CPD in your respective professions.


Virtual Workshops: Early Bird: $363 inc GST (15 3 weeks prior to workshop) Standard: $429 inc GST (within 3 weeks of workshop)
Townsville F2F Workshop: Early Bird: Workshop: $429 inc GST (3 weeks prior to workshop) Standard: $495 inc GST (within 3 weeks of workshop)


Dr Shannon Morton, is a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist with a special interest in treating young people who naturally exist outside the usual boxes, and prefer to colour outside the lines. She is the Founder and Clinical Director of the “The Kooky Clinic”, a multidisciplinary clinic with a difference in Brisbane, where humour, holistic, and expressive therapies are used to celebrate differences, reframe medical symptoms and sufferings, and challenge stigmatising stereotypes head on. She has previously worked in a Prison Mental Health Service, and spent many years working in a low socioeconomic area, with a large number of children with externalising disorders in her practice. She has special interests in working with young people with Tourette Syndrome and associated challenges, the neurodiverse, those suffering from self harm, or those with unconventional tendencies that push institutional boundaries.

She has assisted in research data collection for Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) treatment of severe Tourette Syndrome, and was one of the youngest speakers invited to present at the World Congress of Biological Psychiatry in Paris, on the topic of refractory Tourette Syndrome in Adolescents. She has also acted as a medical advisor for the SBS Documentary “The Silent Epidemic” on the science of self injury, having worked with world experts on mirror neurons at the La Sapienza University in Rome during her research project on emotional mirror neurons, attachment, and self harm. She has developed and facilitated group therapy programs, including “The Healing Circle”, a self harm recovery group for teens, which was a finalist in the Peer Support category of the Queensland Mental Health Awards, and “Bubble and Squeak”, a Tourette Syndrome support group. She currently supervises and lectures both Psychiatry Advanced Training Registrars and Provisional Psychologists, and is undertaking online Group Supervision for Rural GPs.

Workshop Outline


Session 1: When Kids and Families Ghost You: Assessment of School Refusal in Children and Adolescents

This session will cover the theory, epidemiology, assessment, common co-morbidities, and prevalent patterns of school reluctance, refusal, and truancy, in children and adolescents. An overview of the latest research in the area to form the foundations for an evidence-based, multi-system, approach to these complex and frequently challenging cases.

  • Understand the prevalence and broad impact of school refusal and reluctance
  • Understand current research and local systemic limitations with implementation
  • Assessing and formulating school refusal issues in children and adolescents in a sophisticated and deep way, and tailoring effective management plans

Session 2: The Crook! Achieving Mission Possible and Ensuring Children and Adolescents Return to School

Raising the bar with local treatment options for school refusal, by introducing exciting new systemic approaches, and executing effective management plans, in any context.

Dr Morton will introduce and guide you through Mission Possible: School Re-Entry Action Plan. Developed by Dr Morton, Mission Possible is a free clinical tool which takes the time out of stake-holder liaison and documentation. It produces a tailored, comprehensive School Re-entry Action Plan, including: definition, role responsibilities and agreement, expectations, and goals, to support a successful school re-entry.

Session 3: The Crook cont: Implementing Mission Possible: School Re-Entry Action Plan

Implementing the Mission Possible: School Re-Entry Action Plan clinical tool: using case studies to illustrate how this clinical tool can effectively assess and manage complex cases, co-ordinate multiple stakeholders, and develop a comprehensive treatment and management plan to ensure successful re-entry to school.

By taking the difficulty out of stakeholder liaison, and letting technology do the heavy lifting of paperwork, guidance officers, educators, and clinicians will be freed up to do what you do best – creatively connecting with young people and their families, and supporting their journey through the toughest patches of their schooling. It takes a Village to get a child back to school, let’s work together, bridge the gaps, and ensure that no child is left behind!

Session 4: The Hook: Creative and innovative ways of addressing school refusal and related issues

Dr Morton will share her passion for finding the student’s “school-based Ikigai” to motivate them to overcome their fears and challenges (the hook).

Creative ideas to address school refusal, including: “Breakfast Clubs” and “The Village” Peer Support Forums to support school reluctant young people re-engage with school and local clinical settings. Instilling confidence to apply and adapt these principles, utilising a practical “how to” guide, directly to your setting.

  • Includes interactive Q & A
  • Problem-solving to overcome systemic obstacles that may predictably get in the way.
  • Wisdom of “lived experience” regarding what works, and what doesn’t, from parents and young people who have successfully broken a long-term habit of school refusal.