Current Issues

Welcome to the Fourth Printed Edition of MatchBook

By Timothy M. Callahan, Ed.D.

May 9, 2014 Back


Dear Fellow Professional:

For a second year, the theme of Matchbook parallels the theme of the Northeast Youth Firesetting Conference- a forum where professionals working in firesetting prevention and intervention gather annually to learn, network, and share resources. We feel that the concepts discussed are too important to be shared with only attendees and thereby extend and expand upon them for MatchBook readership. The best practice information, experts’ insights, data, and tools outlined must make it into hands and practice of mental health, fire service, juvenile justice, burn care, and education professionals. National conversations and information-sharing unite us in our pursuits to better manage and significantly reduce youth firesetting.

The evidence is clear: people change their behavior when they are motivated. Professionals working with problem behaviors like firesetting must become adept at allying with youth they serve, helping them feel empowered, supported, and encouraged to begin the journey toward reaching their own goals. Key to this work is helping the individual understand her/his motivations to set fires and then working to disrupt and replace the satisfaction s/he derives from this dangerous and destructive behavior with more socially positive behaviors.

Agencies of all kinds are being required to integrate “youth-guided” and “youth-driven” approaches into their practices, but what does it mean and how do we do it in Youth Firesetting Intervention? Included in this 4th issue of MatchBook are tools, examples, and data shared by experts from Michigan to Australia. Concepts, including Charlie Appelstein’s “strength-based approaches,” program blueprints like that Karla Klas outlines in “The Million Dollar Cry for Help,” and tools like “Motivational Interviewing” discussed in this issue by David Prescott improve our firesetting interventions and change our thinking about youth involved in firesetting.

I hope you find this issue of Matchbook valuable. Thank you for your continued work and collaboration.


Timothy M. Callahan, Ed.D., Editor in Chief, MatchBook Journal

About The Author

Timothy M. Callahan, Ed.D.

Dr. Callahan has been Executive Director at Brandon for over 27 years. Prior to coming to Brandon, he spent ten years in public education running two separate special education schools. Tim earned his Ed.D from Boston University, where he has continued to teach.

His dissertation “Students in Transition to a less Restrictive Residential Treatment Setting” is devoted to serving youth in the most community based setting possible. Tim has been appointed to several boards including the Governor’s Mental Health Commission and the Massachusetts’ “Stuck Kid” Committee. He is currently serving as the President of the Natick Rotary and the Chair Elect of the Massachusetts Children’s League. In addition to his work at Brandon, Tim has been a consultant to a number of residential programs, has presented at national conferences and has served as an “expert witness” in legal cases.