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.
It is a privilege to be able to work in this way, with so many minds focused on thinking about each student’s individual needs. We are all learning every day, inspired by our students’ resilience and courage to connect.
Our psychotherapeutic aspect is provided by creative psychotherapy practitioners from the following disciplines; art psychotherapy, music therapy, dramatherapy and dance movement psychotherapy. 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 therapist team has further enhancement with a Advanced Sensory Integration practitioner, 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.
Speech and Language Therapy
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.
Clinical & Forensic Psychology
Our consultant Clinical & Forensic 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 support team offers outreach work to our parents and carers. Offering a diverse range of help from counselling to practical parenting strategies and systemic work, the team provide a crucial aspect to the schools holistic approach to care and development.
In regular consultation with our team, we have close partners in practice from Mentor Forensic (forensic psychologists) and Big Talk Education (specialist sex education) to support the development of informed and healthy relationships for our students.
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 the function of behaviour, exploring mental health difficulties, trauma theory, the importance of play, attachment and patterns of relationships.
Our wonderful therapies team:
Sarah Ayache - Head of Mental Health & Clinical Development
Lucy Everitt –Head of Therapy & Art Psychotherapist
Christina Smith – Communication Team Lead, Occupational Therapist and Advanced Sensory Integration practitioner
Jim Cameron – Senior Dramatherapist & Systemic practitioner
Sarah Butcher - Senior Art Psychotherapist
Kim Webb - Family Councillor
Amy Shipley - Music Therapist
Nick Richards – Music Therapist
Alice McHugh – Dramatherapist
Erikas Vaitulevicious – Dance and Movement Psychotherapist
Heather Clarke - Speech & Language Therapist
Louise Bennett - Occupational Therapist
Paul Cousins - Consultant Clinical Forensic Psychologist
Johnny Ireland - Outreach Counsellor
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 Therapy, Sarah, has presented at international conferences in New York, Brussels and London, national conferences in Newcastle, Southampton and Stratford-Upon-Avon and regularly supports 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. 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 15 years of observations with a distinct client group, we have a lot to offer others researching and creating services in this field.