Supporting mental health, wellbeing and development
Established fifteen years ago the multi-disciplinary team is dedicated to child-centred practice utilising a broad range of theory. With practitioners trained to post-graduate level and engaged in current thinking, research and practice across a variety of disciplines; we are a dynamic, creative and innovative team.
Our role in school continues the ethos of our students (and staff), to support individuals to become the best they can be, engaging in all aspects of life and gaining insight into their potential.
We support mental health, wellbeing and all aspects of development from psychological to sensory to social, educational and communicative. Our location on site provides accessibility to our students and creates opportunity for early intervention. Connected with observations from education and social staff, holistic assessments and integrated strategies can be quickly implemented.
Our psychotherapeutic aspect is provided by creative psychotherapy practitioners from the following disciplines; art psychotherapy, music therapy, dramatherapy and dance movement psychotherapy. All our practitioners are trained to Masters level and are registered with their professional body. Using psychodynamic theory, foundations in child development, attachment theory and influence from interpersonal neurobiology, our therapists engage our students on a creative level, using narrative, metaphor and play to explore each student's individual experiences and thoughts at their pace. Creative psychotherapy often uses play to enable students to process their difficult early experiences. We offer individual and group therapy sessions.
Our Occupational Therapist supports students to access education, self-care and leisure activities. Using approaches of participation, sensory and physical development and activity analysis. Our Occupational Therapist supports students to gain mastery of the skills required to participate and offers access to adaptations where necessary to increase participation, confidence in their abilities and improved quality of life. The offer is enhanced with additional training at Masters level as an Advanced Sensory Integration Practitioner. Offering students bespoke sensory assessment, intervention and strategies to support regulation, increasing engagement, independence and ability to successfully interact with the world around them.
Speech and Language Therapy
Our speech and language therapist offers insight into our students’ patterns of communication, supporting our education staff to provide adaptations for optimum accessibility as well as providing individual bespoke therapeutic support. Creating class-based group programs to support development in working memory, visual perception, social communication and language comprehension provide intervention integrated with play and learning.
Clinical & Forensic Psychology
Our consultant Clinical psychologist provides advisory and clinical services to the team and school community. Providing assessments, direct clinical support to students (such as CBT strategies), family support and organisational consultancy around policies, practice and safety.
In recognition of the importance of family and each students’ support outside of school, our family therapist and family support practitioner offer support to our parents and carers. Offering a diverse range of help from family therapy and counselling to practical parenting strategies and systemic work, the team provide a crucial aspect to the schools holistic approach to care and support for our students.
Big Talk Education (specialist sex education) visit regularly to support the development of informed and healthy relationships for our students.
The therapy team are dedicated to supporting our students and we also offer our services to others in the community, regularly working with schools, colleges, social services and the NHS.
Assessment packages - we offer therapy assessments covering all aspects of psychological, sensory, physical and communication functioning and can create bespoke packages depending on need.
Psychotherapy - we offer short term, long term individual creative psychotherapy, as well as group work. We provide support for a range of psychological and mental health difficulties including developmental trauma. Support can be tailored to individual need.
Advice and consultancy - our responsibility to working with children with SEMH extends beyond our students to a wider social context. The school and team are happy to share learning and practice with others, whether it be advice on establishing therapies in school or thinking through challenges with individual students.
Training - we regularly provide training on a variety of aspects relating to working with children, therapeutic practice, child development, mental health and psychological difficulties. Recent sessions have included the function of behaviour, exploring mental health difficulties, trauma theory, the importance of play, attachment and patterns of relationships.
Sarah Ayache - Head of Mental Health & Clinical Development
Lucy Everitt – Head of Therapy & Art Psychotherapist
Jim Cameron – Senior Dramatherapist & Systemic Practitioner
Amy Shipley – Senior Music Therapist
Nick Richards – Music Therapist
Alice McHugh – Dramatherapist
Erikas Vaitulevicius – Dance and Movement Psychotherapist
Kim Webb – Systemic Family Therapist
Lauren Kershaw – Family Support Practitioner
Christina Smith - Occupational Therapy Lead and Advanced Sensory Integration practitioner
Heather Clarke - Speech & Language Therapy Lead
The work of the team was published following an invitation to contribute a chapter to the book, “Creative Therapies for Complex Trauma.” edited by Anthea Hendry. The book includes chapters from teams across the country leading innovative practice with children exhibiting complex and developmental trauma.
The team are regularly requested to teach at conferences and training. Our Head of Mental Health, Sarah Ayache, has presented at international conferences in New York, Brussels and London, national conferences in Newcastle, Southampton and Stratford-Upon-Avon and has supported the post-graduate training in SEN and Child Development at the University of Leeds. She previously facilitated the Neuroscience Research Reading Group at the Northern School for Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy.
The team are passionate about supporting the development of both our individual disciplines and the practice of therapy with children and families. We are currently exploring options for research and collaborations with academia. As a clinical team with a wealth of experience, well-established and varied clinical practice and 15 years of work with a distinct client group, we have a lot to offer others researching and creating services in this field.