This programme is based on the successful series of workshops run on working with juvenile fire-setters, which have been delivered with 20 fire services across the country and on adult workshops delivered in the south east of England. There will, of course, be some similar motivating factors behind the adult firesetting as with juveniles. These will include the management and control of difficult feelings – fire being an effective way of externalising such feelings. In particular firesetting may be used as a vehicle to express anger, frustration, and revenge, seek attention or combat boredom.

Mental Health

However this clinical population is likely to contain a far higher number of “disturbed firesetters” where the firesetting forms part of a wider range of self-harming, offending and chaotic or anti-social behaviour issues. Some people will likely be diagnosed with borderline personality disorders or other serious mental health problems. Some may be feeling depressed or suicidal. They may be self-harming, offending, suffering from anxiety and/or dealing with alcohol or drug abuse problems. Many will likely display signs of disorganised attachment behaviour in relationships.

What the Training Offers

The challenge here will be largely one of defining the role and working safely and effectively within those boundaries. For these clients this is likely to involve a high degree of multi –agency working and referral.

We make it very clear during these trainings that we not aiming to create counsellors, therapists or mental health workers – indeed that would be impossible in four days. We will aim to help participants to develop their skills to talk with older children & adult fire-setters so that they can do their job of fire education/arson prevention with them much more effectively. We would not train them to assess risk of re-offending nor to work therapeutically with this group. Rather in giving some background information and experiential learning people will better understand what is driving the firesetting behaviour and will be able to find more leverage with the person to change their behaviour.

The goal is for participants to have a deeper understanding of the emotional and psychological processes at work when fires are started so they can work with people on providing realistic alternative goals, behaviours and coping strategies.


  • Understand different types of firesetters and some of the psychological drivers for that behaviour
  • Build a basic understanding of how we regulate our emotions, thoughts and behaviour when stressed
  • Explore disorganised attachment and how this plays a role in older children & adult firesetting
  • Approach firesetting situations with a depth of understanding for unconscious triggers and drivers (in themselves and firesetters)
  • Work in a safe, boundaried and ethical manner with firesetters
  • Develop advanced empathy for adult firesetters using personal reflection
  • Examine psychiatric disorders & disturbed Firesetter
  • Explore Pyromania
  • Examine Risk Assessment in older children & Adult Firesetting
  • Explore when to refer a client
  • Explore the role of supervision and sharing casework
  • To speak with an older teenager or adult Firesetter about their experience
  • Effectively deliver a variety of tools for behaviour change with adult firesetters
  • To explore treatment planning in complex child cases or adult Firesetters

Training Outline


‘Complex Young Persons Cases and Adult Work’ ESR Level 2 - 4 Day Course

Some Sample Slides from the Course