Established twelve years ago the multi-disciplinary team is dedicated to child-centred practice utilising a broad range of theory. With all practitioners trained to post-graduate level and engaged in current thinking, research and practice, we are a dynamic, creative and innovative team.

Our psychotherapeutic aspect is provided by creative practitioners; art psychotherapists, music therapists and drama therapists. Using psychodynamic theory, foundations in child development 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.

Complimenting and enhancing this, our occupational therapists are trained in Sensory Integration, supporting a holistic consideration of each students’ physical needs, development in movement, proprioception skills and vestibular abilities. Supporting students to gain mastery and connection of their bodies ultimately supports confidence and engagement in activity to interact more successfully with the world around them.

Our speech and language therapists offer 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.

In recognition of the importance of family and each students’ support outside of school, our family support team offers outreach work to our parents and carers. Offering a diverse range of help from counselling to practical parenting strategies, systemic work and social work support, the team provide a crucial connection to the school and therapy team.

In regular consultation with our team, we have partners in practice from Mentor Forensic (forensic psychologists), Big Talk Education (specialist sex education) and educational psychology. The connected and integrated practice is crucial and reflected in these working relationships.

The therapy team are dedicated to supporting our students on site but we also offer our services to others in the community, regularly working with schools, colleges, social services and the NHS.

Assessment packages - we offer a standard 15 week assessment covering all aspects of psychological, physical and communication functioning but can create bespoke packages depending on need.

Individual therapy - we specialise in long term weekly creative psychotherapy, providing support for a range of psychological and mental health difficulties including developmental trauma. Support can be tailored to individual need and is offered including regular liaison with the referring agency. 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 trauma theory, attachment and patterns of relationships and the importance of play.

Our Team

Our wonderful therapies team:

Martin Gibson - Team founder, Deputy Principal

Sarah Ayache - Head of Therapy & Art Psychotherapist

Jim Cameron - Dramatherapist & Family Support practitioner

Lucy Everitt - Art Psychotherapist

Aby Vulliamy - Music Therapist

Rachel Cowdrey - Family Counsellor with Systemic training

Amy Shipley - Music Therapist

Harriet Richardson - Speech and Language Therapist

Heather Clarke - Speech and Language Therapist

Christina Smith - Occupational Therapist with Sensory Integration

Louise Bennett - Occupational Therapist with Sensory Integration

Lucy Harrison - Art Psychotherapist

Jennie Adamski - Family Welfare Practitioner

Johnny Ireland - Outreach Counsellor

Paul Cousins - Consultant Clinical Forensic Psychologist

Alice McHugh - Dramatherapist

The work of the team was published this year 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 developmental trauma.

The team are regularly requested to teach at conferences and training. In the last 18 months Sarah, our Head of Therapy, has presented at an international conference in New York, a national conference in Newcastle and on the MA SEN at the University of Leeds. She currently facilitates 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. We are currently exploring options for research and collaborations with academia, with a number of the team interested in further study at a doctorate level. As a clinical team with a wealth of experience, well-established and varied clinical practice and 12 years of observations with a distinct client group, we have a lot to offer others researching in this field.


Family Counselling, Therapeutic Support & Systemic Practice

The Family Team interventions provide bespoke packages of interventions to families of the boys attending school. They are designed to meet the individual needs of each family and family members, when they need it. This may be pre-admission, transition, or at any point in their child’s attendance at WHSS.

The service is fundamentally underpinned by Counselling and Systemic theory and practice, and aims to be non-judgemental, confidential (where possible), and allow families to develop trust, respect, rapport and autonomy.

The relationships are built on mutual respect, equality and trust.

Areas of support are identified such as;

  • Family Relationships – Spousal, siblings.
  • Emotional Literacy.
  • Parenting techniques and strategies.
  • The effects of abuse, anxiety, trauma, loss, domestic violence, and the inter-generational impact this can have.
  • Attachment issues impacting on family relationships.
  • Positive relationships and quality of life.

The work offers the parents, carers and family members a safe, neutral space in which to explore the challenges these issues raise and facilitate different, nurturing, effective relationships with their children, hopefully to reduce some of their barriers to learning, emotionally and academically. The ethos of positive behaviour support, with a focus on quality of life extends throughout the school, to include our community of families and carers.