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Child and Family Services

We are a dynamic and compassionate multidisciplinary team who are dedicated to growing healthy young minds and strong family connections because we believe that relationships are what matter.

green leaf icon

Child and Family Services

We are a dynamic and compassionate multidisciplinary team who are dedicated to growing healthy young minds and strong family connections because we believe that relationships are what matter.

green leaf icon

Child and Family Services

We are a dynamic and compassionate multidisciplinary team who are dedicated to growing healthy young minds and strong family connections because we believe that relationships are what matter.

green leaf icon

Child and Family Services

We are a dynamic and compassionate multidisciplinary team who are dedicated to growing healthy young minds and strong family connections because we believe that relationships are what matter.

Child and Family Services

As a service, we believe that children, young people and families should be safe, thriving and hopeful.  In all aspects of our work we also believe it is important to nurture a holistic sense of wellbeing through strengthening experiences of connection.  The research tells us that one of the most powerful ways to help a child who is struggling is to involve the community around them including parents and school.

When a child or young person is referred to us, we always commence our work with seeing parents first.  This creates a space for reflection so together we can begin to develop a therapeutic understanding of your child’s difficulties.  Our aim is to think with parents about;

  • When they first noticed their child was struggling
  • A child’s early developmental history, including pre-birth and post-birth experiences
  • The kind of situations and challenges that tend to trigger overwhelming distress and strong emotional reactions
  • What makes the child and family strong and resourceful?

Children have the gift of honest communication when they feel safe and secure.  Parents who are respected and accepted with dignity will express how hard it can be parenting a child who is struggling.

Parenting Consultations

Often, creating a space where parents can share their concerns is all that is needed to help strengthen connections and restore more healthy communication. Parenting consultations provide a reflective space for us to consider what a child’s behaviour may be communicating.  This allows us to:

  • Think more deeply about the factors underpinning a child’s hurt feelings
  • Understand patterns of communication that may contribute to the difficulties a child is experiencing
  • Develop more reflective parenting strategies to support the changes that need to happen

For new parents, the problems may relate more to struggles with bonding and attachment or more general concerns about being a new parent.

We believe a child’s sense of safety and emotional well-being is not separate from the world around them, rather it is dependent on the web of connections in which they exist; family, kinship, friends, community and culture.

Child and Family Services

As a service, we believe that children, young people and families should be safe, thriving and hopeful.  In all aspects of our work we also believe it is important to nurture a holistic sense of wellbeing through strengthening experiences of connection.  The research tells us that one of the most powerful ways to help a child who is struggling is to involve the community around them including parents and school.

When a child or young person is referred to us, we always commence our work with seeing parents first.  This creates a space for reflection so together we can begin to develop a therapeutic understanding of your child’s difficulties.  Our aim is to think with parents about;

  • When they first noticed their child was struggling
  • A child’s early developmental history, including pre-birth and post-birth experiences
  • The kind of situations and challenges that tend to trigger overwhelming distress and strong emotional reactions
  • What makes the child and family strong and resourceful?

Children have the gift of honest communication when they feel safe and secure.  Parents who are respected and accepted with dignity will express how hard it can be parenting a child who is struggling.

Parenting Consultations

Often, creating a space where parents can share their concerns is all that is needed to help strengthen connections and restore more healthy communication. Parenting consultations provide a reflective space for us to consider what a child’s behaviour may be communicating.  This allows us to:

  • Think more deeply about the factors underpinning a child’s hurt feelings
  • Understand patterns of communication that may contribute to the difficulties a child is experiencing
  • Develop more reflective parenting strategies to support the changes that need to happen

For new parents, the problems may relate more to struggles with bonding and attachment or more general concerns about being a new parent.

We believe a child’s sense of safety and emotional well-being is not separate from the world around them, rather it is dependent on the web of connections in which they exist; family, kinship, friends, community and culture.

Child and Family Services

As a service, we believe that children, young people and families should be safe, thriving and hopeful.  In all aspects of our work we also believe it is important to nurture a holistic sense of wellbeing through strengthening experiences of connection.  The research tells us that one of the most powerful ways to help a child who is struggling is to involve the community around them including parents and school.

When a child or young person is referred to us, we always commence our work with seeing parents first.  This creates a space for reflection so together we can begin to develop a therapeutic understanding of your child’s difficulties.  Our aim is to think with parents about;

  • When they first noticed their child was struggling
  • A child’s early developmental history, including pre-birth and post-birth experiences
  • The kind of situations and challenges that tend to trigger overwhelming distress and strong emotional reactions
  • What makes the child and family strong and resourceful?

Children have the gift of honest communication when they feel safe and secure.  Parents who are respected and accepted with dignity will express how hard it can be parenting a child who is struggling.

Parenting Consultations

Often, creating a space where parents can share their concerns is all that is needed to help strengthen connections and restore more healthy communication. Parenting consultations provide a reflective space for us to consider what a child’s behaviour may be communicating.  This allows us to:

  • Think more deeply about the factors underpinning a child’s hurt feelings
  • Understand patterns of communication that may contribute to the difficulties a child is experiencing
  • Develop more reflective parenting strategies to support the changes that need to happen

For new parents, the problems may relate more to struggles with bonding and attachment or more general concerns about being a new parent.

We believe a child’s sense of safety and emotional well-being is not separate from the world around them, rather it is dependent on the web of connections in which they exist; family, kinship, friends, community and culture.

Child and Family Services

As a service, we believe that children, young people and families should be safe, thriving and hopeful.  In all aspects of our work we also believe it is important to nurture a holistic sense of wellbeing through strengthening experiences of connection.  The research tells us that one of the most powerful ways to help a child who is struggling is to involve the community around them including parents and school.

When a child or young person is referred to us, we always commence our work with seeing parents first.  This creates a space for reflection so together we can begin to develop a therapeutic understanding of your child’s difficulties.  Our aim is to think with parents about;

  • When they first noticed their child was struggling
  • A child’s early developmental history, including pre-birth and post-birth experiences
  • The kind of situations and challenges that tend to trigger overwhelming distress and strong emotional reactions
  • What makes the child and family strong and resourceful?

Children have the gift of honest communication when they feel safe and secure.  Parents who are respected and accepted with dignity will express how hard it can be parenting a child who is struggling.

Parenting Consultations

Often, creating a space where parents can share their concerns is all that is needed to help strengthen connections and restore more healthy communication. Parenting consultations provide a reflective space for us to consider what a child’s behaviour may be communicating.  This allows us to:

  • Think more deeply about the factors underpinning a child’s hurt feelings
  • Understand patterns of communication that may contribute to the difficulties a child is experiencing
  • Develop more reflective parenting strategies to support the changes that need to happen

For new parents, the problems may relate more to struggles with bonding and attachment or more general concerns about being a new parent.

We believe a child’s sense of safety and emotional well-being is not separate from the world around them, rather it is dependent on the web of connections in which they exist; family, kinship, friends, community and culture.
family-services-line-OL

Some of the difficulties children and their families tell us about may include:

  • Anxiety and panic
  • Anger and aggression
  • Attachment or relationship difficulties
  • Bonding and attachment difficulties
  • Developmental trauma
  • Friendship problems
  • Loss and bereavement
  • Low mood and low self-esteem
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Parental separation and divorce
  • Parenting challenges
  • Problems managing anger and other strong emotions
  • Problems at school with teachers, peers or bullying
  • Separation anxiety
  • Self-harming and thoughts of suicide
family-services-line-OL

Some of the difficulties children and their families tell us about may include:

  • Anxiety and panic
  • Anger and aggression
  • Attachment or relationship difficulties
  • Bonding and attachment difficulties
  • Developmental trauma
  • Friendship problems
  • Loss and bereavement
  • Low mood and low self-esteem
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Parental separation and divorce
  • Parenting challenges
  • Problems managing anger and other strong emotions
  • Problems at school with teachers, peers or bullying
  • Separation anxiety
  • Self-harming and thoughts of suicide
family-services-line-OL

Some of the difficulties children and their families tell us about may include:

  • Anxiety and panic
  • Anger and aggression
  • Attachment or relationship difficulties
  • Bonding and attachment difficulties
  • Developmental trauma
  • Friendship problems
  • Loss and bereavement
  • Low mood and low self-esteem
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Parental separation and divorce
  • Parenting challenges
  • Problems managing anger and other strong emotions
  • Problems at school with teachers, peers or bullying
  • Separation anxiety
  • Self-harming and thoughts of suicide
family-services-line-OL

Some of the difficulties children and their families tell us about may include:

  • Anxiety and panic
  • Anger and aggression
  • Attachment or relationship difficulties
  • Bonding and attachment difficulties
  • Developmental trauma
  • Friendship problems
  • Loss and bereavement
  • Low mood and low self-esteem
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Parental separation and divorce
  • Parenting challenges
  • Problems managing anger and other strong emotions
  • Problems at school with teachers, peers or bullying
  • Separation anxiety
  • Self-harming and thoughts of suicide
leaf-new-lime

Referral and first steps

The first step in making a referral is simply to ring us on 01903 206738 or if you prefer you can also email us on enquiries@sussexpsychology.co.uk. You will find our small office team genuinely warm and sensitive to any questions you may wish to discuss about your child and family. Generally, we aim to respond to any questions you may have on the same day either by telephone or email.

We understand that it can be hard for parents to reach out for support for their child and family.  Sometimes other family members may contact us to discuss their concerns.  We’re happy to talk to other relatives and any other professional (GP, Social Worker or someone from school) as long as they have your permission for us to do so

Our referral forms have been designed so we can gain as much information as possible about the difficulties children and families may be experiencing.  This information not only helps us begin to think about the therapeutic needs of your child but also in deciding who may be best suited to work with them.  Sometimes we may ring you to talk further about your child’s difficulties before we begin our assessment.  Once we feel confident that we have sufficient information we will send (via email) a confirmation letter of your first appointment.

leaf-new-lime

The Assessment Process

When working with children and families we like to commence with an assessment of a child’s therapeutic needs.  This usually involves a meeting with parents on their own followed by a meeting with child and parent together.  The assessment, which typically takes place over one or two sessions, offers us the space to think more deeply about what may be happening for a child or young person.  Where there are more complex difficulties, we may need more time to carefully consider the therapeutic needs of your child over a few more sessions.

The key aim of the assessment is to:

  • Understand and make sense of the difficulties a child is experiencing within the context of their developmental history.
  • Develop a therapeutic understanding of their unique needs within the wider context of home and school.
  • Make recommendations for treatment that are matched to a child’s therapeutic needs.

Understanding the nature of your child’s difficulties is our priority, which is why we aim to work together to establish their unique therapeutic needs.  Only when we feel confident in understanding what’s troubling your child will we make our recommendations.

As a service, we integrate key principles of neurobiology into a comprehensive approach to working with children, families and the wider community in which they live.  This means we value:

  • Working together to build a therapeutic web to create opportunities for healing at home and in school
  • The unique therapeutic role parents (relatives, teachers and friends) play in the healing process
  • Pacing and sequencing therapeutic interventions and educational activities that match a child’s unique developmental needs

We are dedicated to making the space for everyone’s voice during our assessments and throughout all our work.

leaf-new-lime

What happens next?

Once the assessment has been completed, we like to offer a feedback meeting where we can discuss your child’s therapeutic needs and our recommendations.  The aim of our therapeutic feedback meeting is to:

  • Share our therapeutic understanding of your child’s difficulties and what their behaviour may be communicating
  • Share our understanding of your child’s therapeutic needs and why parents play a powerful role in the healing process
  • Share our recommendations for the kind of therapeutic treatment intervention we feel may be helpful

For many parents, being armed with a therapeutic understanding of their child’s difficulties together with the knowledge of the powerful role they can play in the healing process is often the first step towards change.

It may also be helpful for us to incorporate a range of psychological tests and observations in school or other settings.  We are mindful that this may generate some anxieties, but we will explain beforehand the nature of the tests and why we are using them.  They help us:

  • Track your child’s therapeutic progress in more tangible ways
  • Shed light on specific problems that may be blocking therapeutic progress
  • Measure whether we are achieving the goals we set at the beginning of therapy

Your hopes for therapy are matched to the shared goals we set which may be revised as therapy progresses.  In many ways the goals we set with families also help us to think about how best to pace and sequence therapeutic interventions to achieve sustainable change.

Additional Specialist Assessments:

On occasion, a dual approach to the therapeutic care of young people may also be helpful, especially if they are struggling with significant mental health difficulties or other emotional problems that are increasingly difficult for parents and school to understand.  We may then suggest that a more specialised assessment with a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist would be beneficial.

As a service, our approach to therapeutic care is biologically respectful and developmentally sensitive. We strive to adopt a more holistic philosophy; one that fully encompasses mind, brain and body.  This means:

  • We prefer to think about what may be troubling your child through a developmentally sensitive and attachment focused lens beginning with early life experiences (including pre-birth and post birth) through to present time
  • We are committed to restoring their emotional and psychological well-being and are mindful that their therapeutic needs are understood holistically
  • We work closely with a small team of Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists who place a lot of emphasis on more gentle and holistic ways of working with young people and their families

We understand how hard it is for parents to take this step but often a combined approach to therapeutic care can add an additional layer of support and stability in preparation for therapy. We may also recommend further additional specialist assessments including:

  • Sensory Attachment Assessment
  • Cognitive Assessment
  • Paediatric Consultation
  • NMT and NME Assessments
leaf-new-lime

Referral and first steps

The first step in making a referral is simply to ring us on 01903 206738 or if you prefer you can also email us on enquiries@sussexpsychology.co.uk. You will find our small office team genuinely warm and sensitive to any questions you may wish to discuss about your child and family. Generally, we aim to respond to any questions you may have on the same day either by telephone or email.

We understand that it can be hard for parents to reach out for support for their child and family.  Sometimes other family members may contact us to discuss their concerns.  We’re happy to talk to other relatives and any other professional (GP, Social Worker or someone from school) as long as they have your permission for us to do so

Our referral forms have been designed so we can gain as much information as possible about the difficulties children and families may be experiencing.  This information not only helps us begin to think about the therapeutic needs of your child but also in deciding who may be best suited to work with them.  Sometimes we may ring you to talk further about your child’s difficulties before we begin our assessment.  Once we feel confident that we have sufficient information we will send (via email) a confirmation letter of your first appointment.

leaf-new-lime

The Assessment Process

When working with children and families we like to commence with an assessment of a child’s therapeutic needs.  This usually involves a meeting with parents on their own followed by a meeting with child and parent together.  The assessment, which typically takes place over one or two sessions, offers us the space to think more deeply about what may be happening for a child or young person.  Where there are more complex difficulties, we may need more time to carefully consider the therapeutic needs of your child over a few more sessions.

The key aim of the assessment is to:

  • Understand and make sense of the difficulties a child is experiencing within the context of their developmental history.
  • Develop a therapeutic understanding of their unique needs within the wider context of home and school.
  • Make recommendations for treatment that are matched to a child’s therapeutic needs.

Understanding the nature of your child’s difficulties is our priority, which is why we aim to work together to establish their unique therapeutic needs.  Only when we feel confident in understanding what’s troubling your child will we make our recommendations.

As a service, we integrate key principles of neurobiology into a comprehensive approach to working with children, families and the wider community in which they live.  This means we value:

  • Working together to build a therapeutic web to create opportunities for healing at home and in school
  • The unique therapeutic role parents (relatives, teachers and friends) play in the healing process
  • Pacing and sequencing therapeutic interventions and educational activities that match a child’s unique developmental needs

We are dedicated to making the space for everyone’s voice during our assessments and throughout all our work.

leaf-new-lime

What happens next?

Once the assessment has been completed, we like to offer a feedback meeting where we can discuss your child’s therapeutic needs and our recommendations.  The aim of our therapeutic feedback meeting is to:

  • Share our therapeutic understanding of your child’s difficulties and what their behaviour may be communicating
  • Share our understanding of your child’s therapeutic needs and why parents play a powerful role in the healing process
  • Share our recommendations for the kind of therapeutic treatment intervention we feel may be helpful

For many parents, being armed with a therapeutic understanding of their child’s difficulties together with the knowledge of the powerful role they can play in the healing process is often the first step towards change.

It may also be helpful for us to incorporate a range of psychological tests and observations in school or other settings.  We are mindful that this may generate some anxieties, but we will explain beforehand the nature of the tests and why we are using them.  They help us:

  • Track your child’s therapeutic progress in more tangible ways
  • Shed light on specific problems that may be blocking therapeutic progress
  • Measure whether we are achieving the goals we set at the beginning of therapy

Your hopes for therapy are matched to the shared goals we set which may be revised as therapy progresses.  In many ways the goals we set with families also help us to think about how best to pace and sequence therapeutic interventions to achieve sustainable change.

Additional Specialist Assessments:

On occasion, a dual approach to the therapeutic care of young people may also be helpful, especially if they are struggling with significant mental health difficulties or other emotional problems that are increasingly difficult for parents and school to understand.  We may then suggest that a more specialised assessment with a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist would be beneficial.

As a service, our approach to therapeutic care is biologically respectful and developmentally sensitive. We strive to adopt a more holistic philosophy; one that fully encompasses mind, brain and body.  This means:

  • We prefer to think about what may be troubling your child through a developmentally sensitive and attachment focused lens beginning with early life experiences (including pre-birth and post birth) through to present time
  • We are committed to restoring their emotional and psychological well-being and are mindful that their therapeutic needs are understood holistically
  • We work closely with a small team of Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists who place a lot of emphasis on more gentle and holistic ways of working with young people and their families

We understand how hard it is for parents to take this step but often a combined approach to therapeutic care can add an additional layer of support and stability in preparation for therapy. We may also recommend further additional specialist assessments including:

  • Sensory Attachment Assessment
  • Cognitive Assessment
  • Paediatric Consultation
  • NMT and NME Assessments
leaf-new-lime

Referral and first steps

The first step in making a referral is simply to ring us on 01903 206738 or if you prefer you can also email us on enquiries@sussexpsychology.co.uk. You will find our small office team genuinely warm and sensitive to any questions you may wish to discuss about your child and family. Generally, we aim to respond to any questions you may have on the same day either by telephone or email.

We understand that it can be hard for parents to reach out for support for their child and family.  Sometimes other family members may contact us to discuss their concerns.  We’re happy to talk to other relatives and any other professional (GP, Social Worker or someone from school) as long as they have your permission for us to do so

Our referral forms have been designed so we can gain as much information as possible about the difficulties children and families may be experiencing.  This information not only helps us begin to think about the therapeutic needs of your child but also in deciding who may be best suited to work with them.  Sometimes we may ring you to talk further about your child’s difficulties before we begin our assessment.  Once we feel confident that we have sufficient information we will send (via email) a confirmation letter of your first appointment.

leaf-new-lime

The Assessment Process

When working with children and families we like to commence with an assessment of a child’s therapeutic needs.  This usually involves a meeting with parents on their own followed by a meeting with child and parent together.  The assessment, which typically takes place over one or two sessions, offers us the space to think more deeply about what may be happening for a child or young person.  Where there are more complex difficulties, we may need more time to carefully consider the therapeutic needs of your child over a few more sessions.

The key aim of the assessment is to:

  • Understand and make sense of the difficulties a child is experiencing within the context of their developmental history.
  • Develop a therapeutic understanding of their unique needs within the wider context of home and school.
  • Make recommendations for treatment that are matched to a child’s therapeutic needs.

Understanding the nature of your child’s difficulties is our priority, which is why we aim to work together to establish their unique therapeutic needs.  Only when we feel confident in understanding what’s troubling your child will we make our recommendations.

As a service, we integrate key principles of neurobiology into a comprehensive approach to working with children, families and the wider community in which they live.  This means we value:

  • Working together to build a therapeutic web to create opportunities for healing at home and in school
  • The unique therapeutic role parents (relatives, teachers and friends) play in the healing process
  • Pacing and sequencing therapeutic interventions and educational activities that match a child’s unique developmental needs

We are dedicated to making the space for everyone’s voice during our assessments and throughout all our work.

leaf-new-lime

What happens next?

Once the assessment has been completed, we like to offer a feedback meeting where we can discuss your child’s therapeutic needs and our recommendations.  The aim of our therapeutic feedback meeting is to:

  • Share our therapeutic understanding of your child’s difficulties and what their behaviour may be communicating
  • Share our understanding of your child’s therapeutic needs and why parents play a powerful role in the healing process
  • Share our recommendations for the kind of therapeutic treatment intervention we feel may be helpful

For many parents, being armed with a therapeutic understanding of their child’s difficulties together with the knowledge of the powerful role they can play in the healing process is often the first step towards change.

It may also be helpful for us to incorporate a range of psychological tests and observations in school or other settings.  We are mindful that this may generate some anxieties, but we will explain beforehand the nature of the tests and why we are using them.  They help us:

  • Track your child’s therapeutic progress in more tangible ways
  • Shed light on specific problems that may be blocking therapeutic progress
  • Measure whether we are achieving the goals we set at the beginning of therapy

Your hopes for therapy are matched to the shared goals we set which may be revised as therapy progresses.  In many ways the goals we set with families also help us to think about how best to pace and sequence therapeutic interventions to achieve sustainable change.

Additional Specialist Assessments:

On occasion, a dual approach to the therapeutic care of young people may also be helpful, especially if they are struggling with significant mental health difficulties or other emotional problems that are increasingly difficult for parents and school to understand.  We may then suggest that a more specialised assessment with a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist would be beneficial.

As a service, our approach to therapeutic care is biologically respectful and developmentally sensitive. We strive to adopt a more holistic philosophy; one that fully encompasses mind, brain and body.  This means:

  • We prefer to think about what may be troubling your child through a developmentally sensitive and attachment focused lens beginning with early life experiences (including pre-birth and post birth) through to present time
  • We are committed to restoring their emotional and psychological well-being and are mindful that their therapeutic needs are understood holistically
  • We work closely with a small team of Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists who place a lot of emphasis on more gentle and holistic ways of working with young people and their families

We understand how hard it is for parents to take this step but often a combined approach to therapeutic care can add an additional layer of support and stability in preparation for therapy. We may also recommend further additional specialist assessments including:

  • Sensory Attachment Assessment
  • Cognitive Assessment
  • Paediatric Consultation
  • NMT and NME Assessments

Therapies we can offer for Children and Families:

We can offer a wide range of therapeutic approaches for children and families. Sometimes, we may decide that a combination of different therapeutic interventions would better match the unique needs of a child or young person.

Some of the therapies we offer include:

Art Therapy

Art therapy is a distinct discipline that incorporates creative methods of expression through visual art media.  Art therapy, as a creative arts therapy profession, has its origins in the fields of art and psychotherapy.  It is founded on the belief that self-expression through artistic creation has therapeutic value for those who are healing or seeking a deeper understand of themselves.  From a Jungian perspective, art therapy is a form of symbolic language originating from the unconscious which is significant in helping the individual with the integration of the psyche. For these reasons, art therapists are extremely aware of issues on confidentiality and boundaries.

Art therapists look for opportunities to help their clients identify, express and process emotions that might otherwise remain hidden or stuck.  This is achieved through the use of ‘art media’ to help children, adolescents and adults to express, communicate and explore their feelings.  Within this context, art is not used as a diagnostic tool but as a medium to address emotional issues which may be confusing or distressing.

Art therapy is an effective psychological intervention to treat mild to severe mental health problems.  Creating images can help transform an individual’s imagination and lived experiences so that they can begin to work through difficult events. This can take the form of storytelling through pictures and allows for time and space to develop the ability to reflect and process information.

What to expect from Art Therapy:

  • Exploring feelings using creative techniques such as drawing, painting, colouring etc
  • Developing self-awareness
  • Increasing self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Reducing anxiety and building resilience
  • Developing social skills

Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy

Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy offers an effective treatment for emotional and psychological difficulties from infancy through to late adolescence. Child and Adolescent Psychotherapists are dedicated to understanding the complex emotional lives of infants, children, young people, families and carers in great depth. This approach seeks to look below the surface of problematic behaviours helping children, young people and their families/carers understand and make sense of what is driving such difficulties. One of the key aims is to understand what a child or young person is attempting to communicate through difficult emotions, behaviours and play. Their distinctive training enables them to develop and sustain relationships with children and young people whose difficulties may be rooted in early trauma, attachment disruptions and neglect, which often renders them vulnerable to blocking opportunities for the care and nurturing needed for healing and recovery.

Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy works with children and young people individually or with other family members as well as the professional network around them to actively encourage a deeper understanding from the child’s perspective. During a therapeutic session, younger children may be encouraged to play, while older children may be asked to draw or paint and teenagers to talk about their feelings. Through the relationship with the therapist in a safe setting, the child or adolescent may begin to know and to feel able to express their most troubling thoughts and feelings.  Gradually as these feelings are understood and put into words, there is less need in acting out through behaviour or unhelpful ways to self and other. Part of this process involves helping a child or young person build the internal resources that support their readiness for learning and their ability to form and sustain relationships with friends, family and other significant people in a child’s world.

What to expect from Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy:

  • An exploration of a child or young person’s internal anxieties reflected through problematic behaviours and intense emotions
  • Supporting a child or young person develop a better understanding of their troubling thoughts and hurt feelings so they can learn healthier ways of relating
  • Supporting parents and carers to understand and make sense of their child’s communication attempts and to help parents consider the child’s perspective
  • Supporting parents/carers to develop a more reflective stance as well as strengthen their resources for the task of parenting

Circle Of Security (COS)

The Circle of Security is a well-established parenting programme founded on attachment theory and research, and is used to enhance the security between parent and child. COS is a gentle approach to parenting that focuses on the needs of the child and helps parents/care-givers to understand what underpins the child’s behaviour and identify the different needs that provoke the child’s reactions to situations. The programme also encourages parents/care-givers to help their child understand his or her feelings and why he or she is experiencing them.

Therapists work with parents and care-givers to help them to:

  • Understand the child’s emotional world by learning to read emotional needs
  • Support the child’s ability to manage their emotions successfully
  • Enhance the development of the child’s self esteem
  • Respect the innate wisdom and desire for the child to be secure

The programme is delivered over an eight week period in 90 minute sessions using videos, handouts and discussion.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) focuses specifically on helping children and young people develop an understanding of the relationship between thoughts, feelings and behaviour. CBT can help to improve a child’s moods, anxiety and behaviour by helping them explore confused and distorted patterns of thinking. In particular, CBT focuses on teaching children that thoughts have a direct influence on feelings and moods, which often then impacts on behaviour. In CBT therapy, a child or young person will learn to identify harmful and self-defeating thought patterns and develop the skills required to challenge and change the negative beliefs that often underpin such thinking styles. Parents or carers play a key part in co-facilitating therapeutic work outside of sessions and in supporting a child to meet the goals that are set and agreed.

CBT has a strong evidence base and is perhaps one of the most popular therapeutic approaches. CBT is an effective intervention for treating a wide range of psychological difficulties.  Some of these include depression, anxiety, separation anxiety, panic, sleep problems, obsessional difficulties, phobic fear of sickness and various other phobias, self-esteem issues and body-image problems.  It is also often particularly helpful for a range of physical symptoms without any specified medical diagnosis such as chronic pain. CBT is an extremely pragmatic and highly structured approach that focuses specifically on present difficulties.

What to expect from CBT:

  • Working to break down difficulties into distinct parts: thoughts, feelings, actions as well as corresponding body sensations
  • Homework is a key part of CBT and daily observation records help in understanding how thoughts influence feelings and behaviours in real-time
  • Agreed treatment goals at the end of each session along with possible practice experiments between sessions supported by parents where appropriate
  • The practice work will help to identify the pacing interventions so that a child or young person is working within his or her own window of emotional tolerance while challenging it at the same time

Dramatherapy

Drama therapy is an extremely powerful and creative therapeutic intervention that focuses on the healing aspects of drama and theatre as an exploratory tool in therapy. The transformative power of theatre and storytelling captures the imagination in playful and magical ways. Drama and play are an integral part of children’s everyday lives as well as being a vital part of their emotional and social development. Drama allows a child or young person to explore difficult and hurt feelings in refreshingly novel and creative ways. Some of these include; play, role- play, story, art, music and movement. This may also involve a range of playful and fun activities using puppets, masks, paints and costumes.

The idea is to create an imaginative story that supports a child or young person create a safe space to communicate and explore difficult feelings without this engendering a sense of threat. The storytelling or fictional aspect of drama serves as an emotional filter and creative container. This helps children and young people work with hurt and confusing feelings in ways that offset the fear of being overwhelmed by allowing them to tentatively step towards an exploration at their own pace and more indirectly. Drama therapy works well with groups of children and young people, but also individually. It is an effective therapeutic intervention for a range of psychological and mental health difficulties with children and teens.

What to expect from Drama Therapy:

  • Exploring feelings and relationships by using various playful ‘props’ such as puppets and other appropriate performance materials
  • Support, encouragement and guidance in the creative engagement of dramatizing and transforming personal stories and painful feelings using artistic interventions
  • Joint engagement in ‘make-believe’ as part of a shared experience to discover and self-create new perspectives on the survival of adversity and help build resilience

Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP)

Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy is a neurobiologically informed attachment-focused therapy originally developed by Dr Dan Hughes to work with fostered and adopted children who had suffered from early impaired bonding, trauma and chronic neglect in their family of origin. When a child is exposed to frightening experiences over prolonged periods of time this can result in what is known as developmental trauma. When the world is safe, predictable and nurturing, a child will blossom and grow. If their developing world is chaotic, threatening and devoid of kindness or caring relationships, a child may suffer from overwhelming feelings of sadness, loneliness and despair. The family-focused therapeutic interventions of DDP works towards repairing the trauma of early abuse and neglect.

DDP gently weaves the key neuro nurturing principles of sensitivity, attunement and responsiveness into all its therapeutic interventions. This provides a foundational therapeutic platform to restore trust and safety required to work with a child’s compromised attachment capabilities and relational sensitivities. This approach prioritises the vital role of adoptive parents, foster parents and other key attachment figures in helping a child heal from the trauma they have suffered in early life. Therapeutic parenting based on the key principles of PACE is also regarded as a vital part of the healing process. This involves the kind of parenting that seeks to nurture playfulness, acceptance and curiosity to deepen connection and foster attachment.

What to expect from DDP:

  • Working with parents/carers to build on their natural parenting style in ways that enhance sensitivity and attunement to the complex attachment needs of their child
  • Supporting parents/carers to reflect on how their early attachment histories shape their parenting style and attachment communications
  • New ways of understanding the difficulties traumatized children face in attachment relationships and building key therapeutic resources to cultivate trust and safety
  • Working with both parents and children to create opportunities for attunement and override patterns of ‘blocked care’ through playfulness, curiosity and empathy

EMDR

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a distinct therapeutic intervention or technique that uses what is called bilateral stimulation (BLS) in order to help process distressing memories related to traumatic experiences. When children and young people experience traumatic and negative events like abuse, bullying, violence at home, accidents or the sudden death of someone close to them, the brain creates special memory boxes or files that hold all those painful and distressing thoughts, feelings and body sensations connected to these events. Children who have experienced traumatic events can easily get stuck in defensive behavioural patterns, often reflected in heightened anger (fight reactions) or chronic avoidant behaviours (flight reactions).  This is the body’s solution to a perceived threat or danger only it no longer exists.

Unless a child or young person has support in processing distressing and traumatic experiences, they remain vulnerable to being triggered by small everyday reminders that may evoke similar feelings, such as being ignored, a friend or classmate making fun of them or by parents/carers asking them to do their homework or saying ‘no’. EMDR helps the brain reorganise these painful memories so they no longer hold the power to trigger feelings of anger, sadness and confusion, or leave a child thinking and believing that something is wrong with them or they are not good enough.

EMDR is not a ‘magical’ cure but is considered to be a safe and effective therapy for children suffering from post-traumatic stress or who have a history of attachment difficulties. It can also be used alongside other creative therapies such as art therapy and play therapy depending on a child’s needs and age.

What to expect from EMDR:

  • One of the many things that happen with EMDR is we move our eyes from one side to the other while thinking about a negative and distressing event
  • Listening to special music or tapping hands/knees or moving from one foot to the other to help the brain file away hurt and painful feelings, thoughts and body sensations
  • Doing some drawings or art and perhaps puppet work as well as other rhythmic body-based activities to help the brain defrost and process bad experiences

Equine Therapy

Equine assisted psychotherapy (EAP) is a powerful and effective experiential therapeutic approach that uses the dynamic nature of horses to address a variety of emotional difficulties in children, young people and adults. It allows children and teens to take an active role in their recovery and provides a profoundly enriching environment for healing to unfold. The focus of equine therapy is not on riding or horsemanship but takes place purely on the ground through various structured interactions between children and horses. This often involves activities such as grooming, feeding, haltering and leading a horse that are supervised by a fully qualified Equine Psychotherapist and a Horse Specialist. Such activities naturally strengthen the capacity for assertiveness and development of problem-solving skills as well as relationship building.

During interactions with the horse, the equine therapists will observe certain patterns of behaviour or enquires on thoughts and feelings that may be emerging during a session. Our proximal closeness and/or distance during these interactions shows how the body is mapping the parameters of safety or threat, which is often a reflection of our early attachment experiences. Horses display gentleness and tenderness and their implicit sensory sensitivities together with their natural capacity for attunement and mirroring the patterns of behaviour in those with whom they are working offers tentative opportunities for forging a healing connection.

While Equine Assisted Therapy is used for a wide range of emotional and physical difficulties, for children and young people with traumatised attachment histories who struggle to feel safe in connection with another, the parallel nature of these interactions seems to be naturally attuned to the developmental and emotional needs of the child or adult. Children and teens who have suffered physical/emotional abuse often need to engage in ‘parallel’ relational interactions before they feel safe and secure to enough to be open to more relationally based therapies. The nurturing structure and form of parallel communication occurring during interactional activities allow for moments of emotional connection that can be felt and experienced in new and different ways.

Horses are large and powerful animals inspiring both awe and potentially fear. Taking tentative steps towards approaching a horse or making gestures to invite proximity are often foundational moments to override fear and cultivate the beginnings of relational safety. Moments of interaction where a small task/activity is accomplished provide a new template for dealing with challenging life experiences.

What to expect from Equine Therapy:

  • Working on the ground with either one or two horses with two highly experienced practitioners: one a specialist in equine therapy and the other a horse specialist
  • Working at a child’s own pace and supporting them make their choices about how they wish to approach and interact with horses
  • Participate in simple exercises where appropriate like putting a bridle and saddle on the horse to actively encourage confidence and promote bonding experiences

Family Therapy

Family therapy (also known as family and systemic psychotherapy) is an approach that works with families and those in close relationship to support each other in the service of fostering change. This may be parents and children together and also include grandparents or others who are considered important within the family system. Family therapy helps family members share difficult thoughts and feelings in a therapeutic space in the hope of cultivating a shared understanding and appreciation of the differing needs and experience of others within the family system. Family therapy can be particularly helpful in supporting families when they feel emotionally overwhelmed, full of sadness or frustrated and angry. It can also help when families feel stuck in knowing what to do for the best or stuck in patterns of hurtful and harmful behaviours.

Family therapy views relationships as deeply resourcing and seeks to help people who care for each other find ways of coping with emotional distress in more collaborative and supportive ways. It is a particularly helpful relational approach across a broad spectrum of difficulties including; adults struggling with parenting; for children whose parents are suffering from a mental health problem, school-related difficulties, self-harming behaviours, stressful and traumatic life events such as divorce and separation, premature death of a parent or partner. It is a particularly helpful approach in working with looked after and adopted children and the complex difficulties such families often face.

What to expect from Family Therapy:

  • Support in understanding how the family is relating and communicating
  • Help in feeling safe enough to talk about difficult thoughts, feelings and patterns of behaviour as well as support in talking about the challenges the family may be facing
  • Developing specific strategies and skills to work positively with the conflict between adults and children
  • Understand patterns of communication within the family and developing skills that strengthen communication and cultivate listening

Music Therapy

Music has been used as a therapeutic tool in the service of healing for centuries. Rhythm is regulating; all cultures have some form of patterned, repetitive rhythmic activity as part of their healing and mourning rituals, which is partly why music is often regarded as one of the most powerful forms of communication. The engaging nature of music itself along with the diversity of musical forms makes music uniquely effective in helping people of all ages, whose lives have been affected by trauma, mental illness, physical injury or disability through supporting their psychological, emotional, cognitive, physical, communicative and social needs.

As an expressive and creative art therapy, music seeks to utilise tempo, rhythm and musical improvisation to enhance the emotional, psychological and physical well-being of individuals. Musical interactions also help in the exploration of deeper feelings where sound replaces words and rhythmic melody becomes the primary vehicle for communication. Music therapy is not about learning music or learning to use a specific musical instrument. It is more simply about using and exploring the different melodies of sound through musical interactions with various instruments and facilitating a musical conversation with the therapist in the service of healing.

Music involves patterned, repetitive rhythmic activation of the brainstem and can be seen as a brainstem modulating therapeutic intervention. This is particularly helpful when working with children and young people who have suffered from early impaired bonding experiences, attachment disruptions and loss. Musical interactions encourage connection and bonding between mother and baby, which is especially helpful for women suffering from postnatal depression. Music therapy is also a widely recognised as a specialist therapeutic intervention for young people suffering from brain injury or other neurological disabilities to assist in rehabilitation and improve quality of life.

What to expect from Music Therapy:

  • Working at a pace that is naturally attuned and responsive to your particular emotional and physical needs
  • The capacity to explore musical forms of communication that gently encourage self-expression
  • Taking part in rhythmic body-based activities to modulate and regulate states of anxiety, enhance relaxation and encouraging creative play
  • Playing with musical interactions and alterations in tempo and rhythm as a gentle way of challenging habitual patterns of communication

Non-violent Resistance Therapy

Non-Violent Resistance is a powerful and innovative form of systemic therapy, which has been developed specifically for working with children and young people with extremely challenging behavioural difficulties often involving aggression and violence as well as risky self-destructive behaviours. NVR is particularly effective in working with a child to parent violence, but it has also been adapted to work with children in foster care and residential settings as well as with adoptive families.

This approach originates in the non-violent political struggles led by Marin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. Unlike traditional forms of therapy, the success of NVR is not solely dependent on the participation or cooperation of a child or young person within the family. Parents or carers together with their dedicated supporter(s) are coached in ‘taking action’ to reinstate boundaries while raising positive parental presence through the use of various reconciliatory interventions or techniques. Raising parental presence works to strengthen fractured family attachments, reduce conflict and rebuild trust and safety within the family.

What to expect from NVR:

  • Working to develop a range of de-escalatory skills to help prevent any symmetrical escalation occurring between parent and child to both manage and reduce conflict
  • Developing the skills required to increase parental presence and help refocus attachment interaction away from persistent conflict
  • Support in building a web of dedicated supporters once parents disclose the nature and extent of the problem with significant others
  • Support and guidance on how to work towards making an NVR ‘announcement’ relating to unacceptable and intolerable behaviours as well as help in making gestures of reconciliation

Play Therapy

Play Therapy is a psychotherapeutic approach primarily used to help children explore and express their feelings through play.  Therapeutic play offers children unique opportunities to explore and communicate their inner world in safe and developmentally appropriate ways.  The goal is to help children learn to express their feelings in healthier ways and discover new and more positive ways to solve problems.

In Play Therapy, a child is presented with an environment and a relationship where they will be able to express themselves through the natural language of play. A child may use a wide variety of role play toys, sand and small figures, puppets, arts and crafts, music and therapeutic stories to explore these feelings and experiences through the safe metaphor of play.

The child is fully accepted and supported in this exploration and expression and integrates a new sense of self, fostering a change both in their internal world and in their external behaviours. This change is facilitated through the child experimenting with new behaviours within appropriate limits. In this environment a child is empowered to develop resilience, self-control, confidence and a new sense of self. In turn, this enhances decision making, their relationships with others and their ability to learn and experience life fully. Final outcomes may be more general such as reduced anxiety; or specific, for example a change in behaviour in class or at home.

What to expect:

  • A therapeutic space that also includes the child’s parent or carer during the assessment process
  • An exploration of the child’s internal world reflected through intense emotions and problematic behaviours
  • Supporting parents and carers better understand and make sense of their child’s communication attempts
  • Where appropriate, joint sessions with child and parent/carer to support the development of a more reflective stance
  • Therapeutic play activities involving arts and crafts, music, dancing, storytelling

Play Therapy is most useful for children aged 3-13 but can help young people of all ages.

Sensorimotor Therapy

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is a body-oriented approach to working with trauma. This approach is fully grounded in contemporary neuroscience research and attachment theory, but also deeply informed by the philosophical and spiritual practices of Buddhism. It has evolved over the last three decades into a complex and elegant form of body psychotherapy that gently weaves kindness, compassion and embedded mindfulness into all its therapeutic interventions. As a ‘bottom-up’ approach, it helps us to think sequentially especially when working with early developmental trauma.

While many therapeutic interventions depend almost entirely on verbal narrative, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy utilises the wisdom of the body as a key therapeutic and self-regulatory resource. It offers a unique lens to explore the language of the body by focussing explicitly on the sensory landscape of body sensations and impulses, micro muscular patterns of tension, body movements, posture and gesture as well as facial expressions, gaze resting responses and respiratory rhythms. By prioritising the somatic narrative, it is possible to access the story the body holds by tracking and sequencing somatic states of arousal as well as working more directly with defensive patterns.

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is a developmentally sensitive approach to working with children and young people who have histories of early impaired bonding and attachment disruptions or losses. Children who have suffered from early developmental trauma have compromised attachment capabilities and heightened relational sensitivities. This is reflected in defensive patterns of behaviour children with such histories exhibit as well as in their difficulties in tolerating and managing strong emotions. Children and young people are particularly vulnerable to being triggered by body-based physiological reminders of traumatic experience: sounds, smells, touch, body sensations and impulses as well as small shifts in posture, gesture and body movements.  Sensorimotor Psychotherapy works directly with children’s disrupted capacity for regulation and disrupted attachment systems by helping them to develop physiological and somatic regulatory capacities. As a “bottom-up” approach, it recruits the wisdom of the body to support children and young people Regulate, Relate and Reason.

What to expect from Sensorimotor Psychotherapy:

  • Helps children listen to the story of the body and helps them find words to describe this
  • Helps a young person develop skills of sensing the internal world of body sensations, impulses, muscular patterns of tension, orienting patterns, movement urges and postural patterns
  • Supports children to direct attention to present-moment body-based experience; five-sense perceptions, sensory sensations, micro movement patterns etc, while being motivated by curiosity and playfulness

Video Interactive Guidance (VIG)

Video interactive guidance is a respectful and non-judgmental intervention that aims to enhance communication within relationships between parents and children, teachers and pupils as well as between professionals to increase reflective practice. The key focus of VIG is to increase parental sensitivity and attunement to a child’s verbal and non-verbal communications. VIG is fundamentally a strength-based intervention that works in collaboration with parents to nurture the skills of communication that enrich and empower attachment relationships.

Parents are invited to think about what they would hope to change and focus on a specific goal. Brief moments of parent-child interaction are filmed and only successful moments are selected to celebrate what is going well. Those small celebratory moments that are captured during filming are shared in a video feedback review. The review also allows for opportunities to reflect more deeply on shared moments of success and to build a better understanding of their parenting role in relation to their children’s needs and how best to meet them. VIG interventions are also especially helpful in supporting infants and mothers to increase maternal sensitivity and promote bonding and attunement. VIG can also be integrated within broader therapeutic approaches such as parent-infant psychotherapy to support interactions of parents who have trauma histories.

What to expect from VIG:

  • Greater understanding and new ways of thinking about parent-child communications
  • Filming ten minutes of parent-child interaction using various activities, which is shared during a review to highlight what is working well
  • Able to manage difficult and challenging behaviours more effectively
  • Feel better about your relationship with your child

Therapies we can offer for Children and Families:

We can offer a wide range of therapeutic approaches for children and families. Sometimes, we may decide that a combination of different therapeutic interventions would better match the unique needs of a child or young person.

Some of the therapies we offer include:

Art Therapy

Art therapy is a distinct discipline that incorporates creative methods of expression through visual art media.  Art therapy, as a creative arts therapy profession, has its origins in the fields of art and psychotherapy.  It is founded on the belief that self-expression through artistic creation has therapeutic value for those who are healing or seeking a deeper understand of themselves.  From a Jungian perspective, art therapy is a form of symbolic language originating from the unconscious which is significant in helping the individual with the integration of the psyche. For these reasons, art therapists are extremely aware of issues on confidentiality and boundaries.

Art therapists look for opportunities to help their clients identify, express and process emotions that might otherwise remain hidden or stuck.  This is achieved through the use of ‘art media’ to help children, adolescents and adults to express, communicate and explore their feelings.  Within this context, art is not used as a diagnostic tool but as a medium to address emotional issues which may be confusing or distressing.

Art therapy is an effective psychological intervention to treat mild to severe mental health problems.  Creating images can help transform an individual’s imagination and lived experiences so that they can begin to work through difficult events. This can take the form of storytelling through pictures and allows for time and space to develop the ability to reflect and process information.

What to expect from Art Therapy:

  • Exploring feelings using creative techniques such as drawing, painting, colouring etc
  • Developing self-awareness
  • Increasing self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Reducing anxiety and building resilience
  • Developing social skills

Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy

Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy offers an effective treatment for emotional and psychological difficulties from infancy through to late adolescence. Child and Adolescent Psychotherapists are dedicated to understanding the complex emotional lives of infants, children, young people, families and carers in great depth. This approach seeks to look below the surface of problematic behaviours helping children, young people and their families/carers understand and make sense of what is driving such difficulties. One of the key aims is to understand what a child or young person is attempting to communicate through difficult emotions, behaviours and play. Their distinctive training enables them to develop and sustain relationships with children and young people whose difficulties may be rooted in early trauma, attachment disruptions and neglect, which often renders them vulnerable to blocking opportunities for the care and nurturing needed for healing and recovery.

Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy works with children and young people individually or with other family members as well as the professional network around them to actively encourage a deeper understanding from the child’s perspective. During a therapeutic session, younger children may be encouraged to play, while older children may be asked to draw or paint and teenagers to talk about their feelings. Through the relationship with the therapist in a safe setting, the child or adolescent may begin to know and to feel able to express their most troubling thoughts and feelings.  Gradually as these feelings are understood and put into words, there is less need in acting out through behaviour or unhelpful ways to self and other. Part of this process involves helping a child or young person build the internal resources that support their readiness for learning and their ability to form and sustain relationships with friends, family and other significant people in a child’s world.

What to expect from Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy:

  • An exploration of a child or young person’s internal anxieties reflected through problematic behaviours and intense emotions
  • Supporting a child or young person develop a better understanding of their troubling thoughts and hurt feelings so they can learn healthier ways of relating
  • Supporting parents and carers to understand and make sense of their child’s communication attempts and to help parents consider the child’s perspective
  • Supporting parents/carers to develop a more reflective stance as well as strengthen their resources for the task of parenting

Circle Of Security (COS)

The Circle of Security is a well-established parenting programme founded on attachment theory and research, and is used to enhance the security between parent and child. COS is a gentle approach to parenting that focuses on the needs of the child and helps parents/care-givers to understand what underpins the child’s behaviour and identify the different needs that provoke the child’s reactions to situations. The programme also encourages parents/care-givers to help their child understand his or her feelings and why he or she is experiencing them.

Therapists work with parents and care-givers to help them to:

  • Understand the child’s emotional world by learning to read emotional needs
  • Support the child’s ability to manage their emotions successfully
  • Enhance the development of the child’s self esteem
  • Respect the innate wisdom and desire for the child to be secure

The programme is delivered over an eight week period in 90 minute sessions using videos, handouts and discussion.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) focuses specifically on helping children and young people develop an understanding of the relationship between thoughts, feelings and behaviour. CBT can help to improve a child’s moods, anxiety and behaviour by helping them explore confused and distorted patterns of thinking. In particular, CBT focuses on teaching children that thoughts have a direct influence on feelings and moods, which often then impacts on behaviour. In CBT therapy, a child or young person will learn to identify harmful and self-defeating thought patterns and develop the skills required to challenge and change the negative beliefs that often underpin such thinking styles. Parents or carers play a key part in co-facilitating therapeutic work outside of sessions and in supporting a child to meet the goals that are set and agreed.

CBT has a strong evidence base and is perhaps one of the most popular therapeutic approaches. CBT is an effective intervention for treating a wide range of psychological difficulties.  Some of these include depression, anxiety, separation anxiety, panic, sleep problems, obsessional difficulties, phobic fear of sickness and various other phobias, self-esteem issues and body-image problems.  It is also often particularly helpful for a range of physical symptoms without any specified medical diagnosis such as chronic pain. CBT is an extremely pragmatic and highly structured approach that focuses specifically on present difficulties.

What to expect from CBT:

  • Working to break down difficulties into distinct parts: thoughts, feelings, actions as well as corresponding body sensations
  • Homework is a key part of CBT and daily observation records help in understanding how thoughts influence feelings and behaviours in real-time
  • Agreed treatment goals at the end of each session along with possible practice experiments between sessions supported by parents where appropriate
  • The practice work will help to identify the pacing interventions so that a child or young person is working within his or her own window of emotional tolerance while challenging it at the same time

Dramatherapy

Drama therapy is an extremely powerful and creative therapeutic intervention that focuses on the healing aspects of drama and theatre as an exploratory tool in therapy. The transformative power of theatre and storytelling captures the imagination in playful and magical ways. Drama and play are an integral part of children’s everyday lives as well as being a vital part of their emotional and social development. Drama allows a child or young person to explore difficult and hurt feelings in refreshingly novel and creative ways. Some of these include; play, role- play, story, art, music and movement. This may also involve a range of playful and fun activities using puppets, masks, paints and costumes.

The idea is to create an imaginative story that supports a child or young person create a safe space to communicate and explore difficult feelings without this engendering a sense of threat. The storytelling or fictional aspect of drama serves as an emotional filter and creative container. This helps children and young people work with hurt and confusing feelings in ways that offset the fear of being overwhelmed by allowing them to tentatively step towards an exploration at their own pace and more indirectly. Drama therapy works well with groups of children and young people, but also individually. It is an effective therapeutic intervention for a range of psychological and mental health difficulties with children and teens.

What to expect from Drama Therapy:

  • Exploring feelings and relationships by using various playful ‘props’ such as puppets and other appropriate performance materials
  • Support, encouragement and guidance in the creative engagement of dramatizing and transforming personal stories and painful feelings using artistic interventions
  • Joint engagement in ‘make-believe’ as part of a shared experience to discover and self-create new perspectives on the survival of adversity and help build resilience

Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP)

Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy is a neurobiologically informed attachment-focused therapy originally developed by Dr Dan Hughes to work with fostered and adopted children who had suffered from early impaired bonding, trauma and chronic neglect in their family of origin. When a child is exposed to frightening experiences over prolonged periods of time this can result in what is known as developmental trauma. When the world is safe, predictable and nurturing, a child will blossom and grow. If their developing world is chaotic, threatening and devoid of kindness or caring relationships, a child may suffer from overwhelming feelings of sadness, loneliness and despair. The family-focused therapeutic interventions of DDP works towards repairing the trauma of early abuse and neglect.

DDP gently weaves the key neuro nurturing principles of sensitivity, attunement and responsiveness into all its therapeutic interventions. This provides a foundational therapeutic platform to restore trust and safety required to work with a child’s compromised attachment capabilities and relational sensitivities. This approach prioritises the vital role of adoptive parents, foster parents and other key attachment figures in helping a child heal from the trauma they have suffered in early life. Therapeutic parenting based on the key principles of PACE is also regarded as a vital part of the healing process. This involves the kind of parenting that seeks to nurture playfulness, acceptance and curiosity to deepen connection and foster attachment.

What to expect from DDP:

  • Working with parents/carers to build on their natural parenting style in ways that enhance sensitivity and attunement to the complex attachment needs of their child
  • Supporting parents/carers to reflect on how their early attachment histories shape their parenting style and attachment communications
  • New ways of understanding the difficulties traumatized children face in attachment relationships and building key therapeutic resources to cultivate trust and safety
  • Working with both parents and children to create opportunities for attunement and override patterns of ‘blocked care’ through playfulness, curiosity and empathy

EMDR

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a distinct therapeutic intervention or technique that uses what is called bilateral stimulation (BLS) in order to help process distressing memories related to traumatic experiences. When children and young people experience traumatic and negative events like abuse, bullying, violence at home, accidents or the sudden death of someone close to them, the brain creates special memory boxes or files that hold all those painful and distressing thoughts, feelings and body sensations connected to these events. Children who have experienced traumatic events can easily get stuck in defensive behavioural patterns, often reflected in heightened anger (fight reactions) or chronic avoidant behaviours (flight reactions).  This is the body’s solution to a perceived threat or danger only it no longer exists.

Unless a child or young person has support in processing distressing and traumatic experiences, they remain vulnerable to being triggered by small everyday reminders that may evoke similar feelings, such as being ignored, a friend or classmate making fun of them or by parents/carers asking them to do their homework or saying ‘no’. EMDR helps the brain reorganise these painful memories so they no longer hold the power to trigger feelings of anger, sadness and confusion, or leave a child thinking and believing that something is wrong with them or they are not good enough.

EMDR is not a ‘magical’ cure but is considered to be a safe and effective therapy for children suffering from post-traumatic stress or who have a history of attachment difficulties. It can also be used alongside other creative therapies such as art therapy and play therapy depending on a child’s needs and age.

What to expect from EMDR:

  • One of the many things that happen with EMDR is we move our eyes from one side to the other while thinking about a negative and distressing event
  • Listening to special music or tapping hands/knees or moving from one foot to the other to help the brain file away hurt and painful feelings, thoughts and body sensations
  • Doing some drawings or art and perhaps puppet work as well as other rhythmic body-based activities to help the brain defrost and process bad experiences

Equine Therapy

Equine assisted psychotherapy (EAP) is a powerful and effective experiential therapeutic approach that uses the dynamic nature of horses to address a variety of emotional difficulties in children, young people and adults. It allows children and teens to take an active role in their recovery and provides a profoundly enriching environment for healing to unfold. The focus of equine therapy is not on riding or horsemanship but takes place purely on the ground through various structured interactions between children and horses. This often involves activities such as grooming, feeding, haltering and leading a horse that are supervised by a fully qualified Equine Psychotherapist and a Horse Specialist. Such activities naturally strengthen the capacity for assertiveness and development of problem-solving skills as well as relationship building.

During interactions with the horse, the equine therapists will observe certain patterns of behaviour or enquires on thoughts and feelings that may be emerging during a session. Our proximal closeness and/or distance during these interactions shows how the body is mapping the parameters of safety or threat, which is often a reflection of our early attachment experiences. Horses display gentleness and tenderness and their implicit sensory sensitivities together with their natural capacity for attunement and mirroring the patterns of behaviour in those with whom they are working offers tentative opportunities for forging a healing connection.

While Equine Assisted Therapy is used for a wide range of emotional and physical difficulties, for children and young people with traumatised attachment histories who struggle to feel safe in connection with another, the parallel nature of these interactions seems to be naturally attuned to the developmental and emotional needs of the child or adult. Children and teens who have suffered physical/emotional abuse often need to engage in ‘parallel’ relational interactions before they feel safe and secure to enough to be open to more relationally based therapies. The nurturing structure and form of parallel communication occurring during interactional activities allow for moments of emotional connection that can be felt and experienced in new and different ways.

Horses are large and powerful animals inspiring both awe and potentially fear. Taking tentative steps towards approaching a horse or making gestures to invite proximity are often foundational moments to override fear and cultivate the beginnings of relational safety. Moments of interaction where a small task/activity is accomplished provide a new template for dealing with challenging life experiences.

What to expect from Equine Therapy:

  • Working on the ground with either one or two horses with two highly experienced practitioners: one a specialist in equine therapy and the other a horse specialist
  • Working at a child’s own pace and supporting them make their choices about how they wish to approach and interact with horses
  • Participate in simple exercises where appropriate like putting a bridle and saddle on the horse to actively encourage confidence and promote bonding experiences

Family Therapy

Family therapy (also known as family and systemic psychotherapy) is an approach that works with families and those in close relationship to support each other in the service of fostering change. This may be parents and children together and also include grandparents or others who are considered important within the family system. Family therapy helps family members share difficult thoughts and feelings in a therapeutic space in the hope of cultivating a shared understanding and appreciation of the differing needs and experience of others within the family system. Family therapy can be particularly helpful in supporting families when they feel emotionally overwhelmed, full of sadness or frustrated and angry. It can also help when families feel stuck in knowing what to do for the best or stuck in patterns of hurtful and harmful behaviours.

Family therapy views relationships as deeply resourcing and seeks to help people who care for each other find ways of coping with emotional distress in more collaborative and supportive ways. It is a particularly helpful relational approach across a broad spectrum of difficulties including; adults struggling with parenting; for children whose parents are suffering from a mental health problem, school-related difficulties, self-harming behaviours, stressful and traumatic life events such as divorce and separation, premature death of a parent or partner. It is a particularly helpful approach in working with looked after and adopted children and the complex difficulties such families often face.

What to expect from Family Therapy:

  • Support in understanding how the family is relating and communicating
  • Help in feeling safe enough to talk about difficult thoughts, feelings and patterns of behaviour as well as support in talking about the challenges the family may be facing
  • Developing specific strategies and skills to work positively with the conflict between adults and children
  • Understand patterns of communication within the family and developing skills that strengthen communication and cultivate listening

Music Therapy

Music has been used as a therapeutic tool in the service of healing for centuries. Rhythm is regulating; all cultures have some form of patterned, repetitive rhythmic activity as part of their healing and mourning rituals, which is partly why music is often regarded as one of the most powerful forms of communication. The engaging nature of music itself along with the diversity of musical forms makes music uniquely effective in helping people of all ages, whose lives have been affected by trauma, mental illness, physical injury or disability through supporting their psychological, emotional, cognitive, physical, communicative and social needs.

As an expressive and creative art therapy, music seeks to utilise tempo, rhythm and musical improvisation to enhance the emotional, psychological and physical well-being of individuals. Musical interactions also help in the exploration of deeper feelings where sound replaces words and rhythmic melody becomes the primary vehicle for communication. Music therapy is not about learning music or learning to use a specific musical instrument. It is more simply about using and exploring the different melodies of sound through musical interactions with various instruments and facilitating a musical conversation with the therapist in the service of healing.

Music involves patterned, repetitive rhythmic activation of the brainstem and can be seen as a brainstem modulating therapeutic intervention. This is particularly helpful when working with children and young people who have suffered from early impaired bonding experiences, attachment disruptions and loss. Musical interactions encourage connection and bonding between mother and baby, which is especially helpful for women suffering from postnatal depression. Music therapy is also a widely recognised as a specialist therapeutic intervention for young people suffering from brain injury or other neurological disabilities to assist in rehabilitation and improve quality of life.

What to expect from Music Therapy:

  • Working at a pace that is naturally attuned and responsive to your particular emotional and physical needs
  • The capacity to explore musical forms of communication that gently encourage self-expression
  • Taking part in rhythmic body-based activities to modulate and regulate states of anxiety, enhance relaxation and encouraging creative play
  • Playing with musical interactions and alterations in tempo and rhythm as a gentle way of challenging habitual patterns of communication

Non-violent Resistance Therapy

Non-Violent Resistance is a powerful and innovative form of systemic therapy, which has been developed specifically for working with children and young people with extremely challenging behavioural difficulties often involving aggression and violence as well as risky self-destructive behaviours. NVR is particularly effective in working with a child to parent violence, but it has also been adapted to work with children in foster care and residential settings as well as with adoptive families.

This approach originates in the non-violent political struggles led by Marin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. Unlike traditional forms of therapy, the success of NVR is not solely dependent on the participation or cooperation of a child or young person within the family. Parents or carers together with their dedicated supporter(s) are coached in ‘taking action’ to reinstate boundaries while raising positive parental presence through the use of various reconciliatory interventions or techniques. Raising parental presence works to strengthen fractured family attachments, reduce conflict and rebuild trust and safety within the family.

What to expect from NVR:

  • Working to develop a range of de-escalatory skills to help prevent any symmetrical escalation occurring between parent and child to both manage and reduce conflict
  • Developing the skills required to increase parental presence and help refocus attachment interaction away from persistent conflict
  • Support in building a web of dedicated supporters once parents disclose the nature and extent of the problem with significant others
  • Support and guidance on how to work towards making an NVR ‘announcement’ relating to unacceptable and intolerable behaviours as well as help in making gestures of reconciliation

Play Therapy

Play Therapy is a psychotherapeutic approach primarily used to help children explore and express their feelings through play.  Therapeutic play offers children unique opportunities to explore and communicate their inner world in safe and developmentally appropriate ways.  The goal is to help children learn to express their feelings in healthier ways and discover new and more positive ways to solve problems.

In Play Therapy, a child is presented with an environment and a relationship where they will be able to express themselves through the natural language of play. A child may use a wide variety of role play toys, sand and small figures, puppets, arts and crafts, music and therapeutic stories to explore these feelings and experiences through the safe metaphor of play.

The child is fully accepted and supported in this exploration and expression and integrates a new sense of self, fostering a change both in their internal world and in their external behaviours. This change is facilitated through the child experimenting with new behaviours within appropriate limits. In this environment a child is empowered to develop resilience, self-control, confidence and a new sense of self. In turn, this enhances decision making, their relationships with others and their ability to learn and experience life fully. Final outcomes may be more general such as reduced anxiety; or specific, for example a change in behaviour in class or at home.

What to expect:

  • A therapeutic space that also includes the child’s parent or carer during the assessment process
  • An exploration of the child’s internal world reflected through intense emotions and problematic behaviours
  • Supporting parents and carers better understand and make sense of their child’s communication attempts
  • Where appropriate, joint sessions with child and parent/carer to support the development of a more reflective stance
  • Therapeutic play activities involving arts and crafts, music, dancing, storytelling

Play Therapy is most useful for children aged 3-13 but can help young people of all ages.

Sensorimotor Therapy

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is a body-oriented approach to working with trauma. This approach is fully grounded in contemporary neuroscience research and attachment theory, but also deeply informed by the philosophical and spiritual practices of Buddhism. It has evolved over the last three decades into a complex and elegant form of body psychotherapy that gently weaves kindness, compassion and embedded mindfulness into all its therapeutic interventions. As a ‘bottom-up’ approach, it helps us to think sequentially especially when working with early developmental trauma.

While many therapeutic interventions depend almost entirely on verbal narrative, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy utilises the wisdom of the body as a key therapeutic and self-regulatory resource. It offers a unique lens to explore the language of the body by focussing explicitly on the sensory landscape of body sensations and impulses, micro muscular patterns of tension, body movements, posture and gesture as well as facial expressions, gaze resting responses and respiratory rhythms. By prioritising the somatic narrative, it is possible to access the story the body holds by tracking and sequencing somatic states of arousal as well as working more directly with defensive patterns.

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is a developmentally sensitive approach to working with children and young people who have histories of early impaired bonding and attachment disruptions or losses. Children who have suffered from early developmental trauma have compromised attachment capabilities and heightened relational sensitivities. This is reflected in defensive patterns of behaviour children with such histories exhibit as well as in their difficulties in tolerating and managing strong emotions. Children and young people are particularly vulnerable to being triggered by body-based physiological reminders of traumatic experience: sounds, smells, touch, body sensations and impulses as well as small shifts in posture, gesture and body movements.  Sensorimotor Psychotherapy works directly with children’s disrupted capacity for regulation and disrupted attachment systems by helping them to develop physiological and somatic regulatory capacities. As a “bottom-up” approach, it recruits the wisdom of the body to support children and young people Regulate, Relate and Reason.

What to expect from Sensorimotor Psychotherapy:

  • Helps children listen to the story of the body and helps them find words to describe this
  • Helps a young person develop skills of sensing the internal world of body sensations, impulses, muscular patterns of tension, orienting patterns, movement urges and postural patterns
  • Supports children to direct attention to present-moment body-based experience; five-sense perceptions, sensory sensations, micro movement patterns etc, while being motivated by curiosity and playfulness

Video Interactive Guidance (VIG)

Video interactive guidance is a respectful and non-judgmental intervention that aims to enhance communication within relationships between parents and children, teachers and pupils as well as between professionals to increase reflective practice. The key focus of VIG is to increase parental sensitivity and attunement to a child’s verbal and non-verbal communications. VIG is fundamentally a strength-based intervention that works in collaboration with parents to nurture the skills of communication that enrich and empower attachment relationships.

Parents are invited to think about what they would hope to change and focus on a specific goal. Brief moments of parent-child interaction are filmed and only successful moments are selected to celebrate what is going well. Those small celebratory moments that are captured during filming are shared in a video feedback review. The review also allows for opportunities to reflect more deeply on shared moments of success and to build a better understanding of their parenting role in relation to their children’s needs and how best to meet them. VIG interventions are also especially helpful in supporting infants and mothers to increase maternal sensitivity and promote bonding and attunement. VIG can also be integrated within broader therapeutic approaches such as parent-infant psychotherapy to support interactions of parents who have trauma histories.

What to expect from VIG:

  • Greater understanding and new ways of thinking about parent-child communications
  • Filming ten minutes of parent-child interaction using various activities, which is shared during a review to highlight what is working well
  • Able to manage difficult and challenging behaviours more effectively
  • Feel better about your relationship with your child

Therapies we can offer for Children and Families:

We can offer a wide range of therapeutic approaches for children and families. Sometimes, we may decide that a combination of different therapeutic interventions would better match the unique needs of a child or young person.

Some of the therapies we offer include:

Art Therapy

Art therapy is a distinct discipline that incorporates creative methods of expression through visual art media.  Art therapy, as a creative arts therapy profession, has its origins in the fields of art and psychotherapy.  It is founded on the belief that self-expression through artistic creation has therapeutic value for those who are healing or seeking a deeper understand of themselves.  From a Jungian perspective, art therapy is a form of symbolic language originating from the unconscious which is significant in helping the individual with the integration of the psyche. For these reasons, art therapists are extremely aware of issues on confidentiality and boundaries.

Art therapists look for opportunities to help their clients identify, express and process emotions that might otherwise remain hidden or stuck.  This is achieved through the use of ‘art media’ to help children, adolescents and adults to express, communicate and explore their feelings.  Within this context, art is not used as a diagnostic tool but as a medium to address emotional issues which may be confusing or distressing.

Art therapy is an effective psychological intervention to treat mild to severe mental health problems.  Creating images can help transform an individual’s imagination and lived experiences so that they can begin to work through difficult events. This can take the form of storytelling through pictures and allows for time and space to develop the ability to reflect and process information.

What to expect from Art Therapy:

  • Exploring feelings using creative techniques such as drawing, painting, colouring etc
  • Developing self-awareness
  • Increasing self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Reducing anxiety and building resilience
  • Developing social skills

Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy

Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy offers an effective treatment for emotional and psychological difficulties from infancy through to late adolescence. Child and Adolescent Psychotherapists are dedicated to understanding the complex emotional lives of infants, children, young people, families and carers in great depth. This approach seeks to look below the surface of problematic behaviours helping children, young people and their families/carers understand and make sense of what is driving such difficulties. One of the key aims is to understand what a child or young person is attempting to communicate through difficult emotions, behaviours and play. Their distinctive training enables them to develop and sustain relationships with children and young people whose difficulties may be rooted in early trauma, attachment disruptions and neglect, which often renders them vulnerable to blocking opportunities for the care and nurturing needed for healing and recovery.

Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy works with children and young people individually or with other family members as well as the professional network around them to actively encourage a deeper understanding from the child’s perspective. During a therapeutic session, younger children may be encouraged to play, while older children may be asked to draw or paint and teenagers to talk about their feelings. Through the relationship with the therapist in a safe setting, the child or adolescent may begin to know and to feel able to express their most troubling thoughts and feelings.  Gradually as these feelings are understood and put into words, there is less need in acting out through behaviour or unhelpful ways to self and other. Part of this process involves helping a child or young person build the internal resources that support their readiness for learning and their ability to form and sustain relationships with friends, family and other significant people in a child’s world.

What to expect from Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy:

  • An exploration of a child or young person’s internal anxieties reflected through problematic behaviours and intense emotions
  • Supporting a child or young person develop a better understanding of their troubling thoughts and hurt feelings so they can learn healthier ways of relating
  • Supporting parents and carers to understand and make sense of their child’s communication attempts and to help parents consider the child’s perspective
  • Supporting parents/carers to develop a more reflective stance as well as strengthen their resources for the task of parenting

Circle Of Security (COS)

The Circle of Security is a well-established parenting programme founded on attachment theory and research, and is used to enhance the security between parent and child. COS is a gentle approach to parenting that focuses on the needs of the child and helps parents/care-givers to understand what underpins the child’s behaviour and identify the different needs that provoke the child’s reactions to situations. The programme also encourages parents/care-givers to help their child understand his or her feelings and why he or she is experiencing them.

Therapists work with parents and care-givers to help them to:

  • Understand the child’s emotional world by learning to read emotional needs
  • Support the child’s ability to manage their emotions successfully
  • Enhance the development of the child’s self esteem
  • Respect the innate wisdom and desire for the child to be secure

The programme is delivered over an eight week period in 90 minute sessions using videos, handouts and discussion.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) focuses specifically on helping children and young people develop an understanding of the relationship between thoughts, feelings and behaviour. CBT can help to improve a child’s moods, anxiety and behaviour by helping them explore confused and distorted patterns of thinking. In particular, CBT focuses on teaching children that thoughts have a direct influence on feelings and moods, which often then impacts on behaviour. In CBT therapy, a child or young person will learn to identify harmful and self-defeating thought patterns and develop the skills required to challenge and change the negative beliefs that often underpin such thinking styles. Parents or carers play a key part in co-facilitating therapeutic work outside of sessions and in supporting a child to meet the goals that are set and agreed.

CBT has a strong evidence base and is perhaps one of the most popular therapeutic approaches. CBT is an effective intervention for treating a wide range of psychological difficulties.  Some of these include depression, anxiety, separation anxiety, panic, sleep problems, obsessional difficulties, phobic fear of sickness and various other phobias, self-esteem issues and body-image problems.  It is also often particularly helpful for a range of physical symptoms without any specified medical diagnosis such as chronic pain. CBT is an extremely pragmatic and highly structured approach that focuses specifically on present difficulties.

What to expect from CBT:

  • Working to break down difficulties into distinct parts: thoughts, feelings, actions as well as corresponding body sensations
  • Homework is a key part of CBT and daily observation records help in understanding how thoughts influence feelings and behaviours in real-time
  • Agreed treatment goals at the end of each session along with possible practice experiments between sessions supported by parents where appropriate
  • The practice work will help to identify the pacing interventions so that a child or young person is working within his or her own window of emotional tolerance while challenging it at the same time

Dramatherapy

Drama therapy is an extremely powerful and creative therapeutic intervention that focuses on the healing aspects of drama and theatre as an exploratory tool in therapy. The transformative power of theatre and storytelling captures the imagination in playful and magical ways. Drama and play are an integral part of children’s everyday lives as well as being a vital part of their emotional and social development. Drama allows a child or young person to explore difficult and hurt feelings in refreshingly novel and creative ways. Some of these include; play, role- play, story, art, music and movement. This may also involve a range of playful and fun activities using puppets, masks, paints and costumes.

The idea is to create an imaginative story that supports a child or young person create a safe space to communicate and explore difficult feelings without this engendering a sense of threat. The storytelling or fictional aspect of drama serves as an emotional filter and creative container. This helps children and young people work with hurt and confusing feelings in ways that offset the fear of being overwhelmed by allowing them to tentatively step towards an exploration at their own pace and more indirectly. Drama therapy works well with groups of children and young people, but also individually. It is an effective therapeutic intervention for a range of psychological and mental health difficulties with children and teens.

What to expect from Drama Therapy:

  • Exploring feelings and relationships by using various playful ‘props’ such as puppets and other appropriate performance materials
  • Support, encouragement and guidance in the creative engagement of dramatizing and transforming personal stories and painful feelings using artistic interventions
  • Joint engagement in ‘make-believe’ as part of a shared experience to discover and self-create new perspectives on the survival of adversity and help build resilience

Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP)

Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy is a neurobiologically informed attachment-focused therapy originally developed by Dr Dan Hughes to work with fostered and adopted children who had suffered from early impaired bonding, trauma and chronic neglect in their family of origin. When a child is exposed to frightening experiences over prolonged periods of time this can result in what is known as developmental trauma. When the world is safe, predictable and nurturing, a child will blossom and grow. If their developing world is chaotic, threatening and devoid of kindness or caring relationships, a child may suffer from overwhelming feelings of sadness, loneliness and despair. The family-focused therapeutic interventions of DDP works towards repairing the trauma of early abuse and neglect.

DDP gently weaves the key neuro nurturing principles of sensitivity, attunement and responsiveness into all its therapeutic interventions. This provides a foundational therapeutic platform to restore trust and safety required to work with a child’s compromised attachment capabilities and relational sensitivities. This approach prioritises the vital role of adoptive parents, foster parents and other key attachment figures in helping a child heal from the trauma they have suffered in early life. Therapeutic parenting based on the key principles of PACE is also regarded as a vital part of the healing process. This involves the kind of parenting that seeks to nurture playfulness, acceptance and curiosity to deepen connection and foster attachment.

What to expect from DDP:

  • Working with parents/carers to build on their natural parenting style in ways that enhance sensitivity and attunement to the complex attachment needs of their child
  • Supporting parents/carers to reflect on how their early attachment histories shape their parenting style and attachment communications
  • New ways of understanding the difficulties traumatized children face in attachment relationships and building key therapeutic resources to cultivate trust and safety
  • Working with both parents and children to create opportunities for attunement and override patterns of ‘blocked care’ through playfulness, curiosity and empathy

EMDR

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a distinct therapeutic intervention or technique that uses what is called bilateral stimulation (BLS) in order to help process distressing memories related to traumatic experiences. When children and young people experience traumatic and negative events like abuse, bullying, violence at home, accidents or the sudden death of someone close to them, the brain creates special memory boxes or files that hold all those painful and distressing thoughts, feelings and body sensations connected to these events. Children who have experienced traumatic events can easily get stuck in defensive behavioural patterns, often reflected in heightened anger (fight reactions) or chronic avoidant behaviours (flight reactions).  This is the body’s solution to a perceived threat or danger only it no longer exists.

Unless a child or young person has support in processing distressing and traumatic experiences, they remain vulnerable to being triggered by small everyday reminders that may evoke similar feelings, such as being ignored, a friend or classmate making fun of them or by parents/carers asking them to do their homework or saying ‘no’. EMDR helps the brain reorganise these painful memories so they no longer hold the power to trigger feelings of anger, sadness and confusion, or leave a child thinking and believing that something is wrong with them or they are not good enough.

EMDR is not a ‘magical’ cure but is considered to be a safe and effective therapy for children suffering from post-traumatic stress or who have a history of attachment difficulties. It can also be used alongside other creative therapies such as art therapy and play therapy depending on a child’s needs and age.

What to expect from EMDR:

  • One of the many things that happen with EMDR is we move our eyes from one side to the other while thinking about a negative and distressing event
  • Listening to special music or tapping hands/knees or moving from one foot to the other to help the brain file away hurt and painful feelings, thoughts and body sensations
  • Doing some drawings or art and perhaps puppet work as well as other rhythmic body-based activities to help the brain defrost and process bad experiences

Equine Therapy

Equine assisted psychotherapy (EAP) is a powerful and effective experiential therapeutic approach that uses the dynamic nature of horses to address a variety of emotional difficulties in children, young people and adults. It allows children and teens to take an active role in their recovery and provides a profoundly enriching environment for healing to unfold. The focus of equine therapy is not on riding or horsemanship but takes place purely on the ground through various structured interactions between children and horses. This often involves activities such as grooming, feeding, haltering and leading a horse that are supervised by a fully qualified Equine Psychotherapist and a Horse Specialist. Such activities naturally strengthen the capacity for assertiveness and development of problem-solving skills as well as relationship building.

During interactions with the horse, the equine therapists will observe certain patterns of behaviour or enquires on thoughts and feelings that may be emerging during a session. Our proximal closeness and/or distance during these interactions shows how the body is mapping the parameters of safety or threat, which is often a reflection of our early attachment experiences. Horses display gentleness and tenderness and their implicit sensory sensitivities together with their natural capacity for attunement and mirroring the patterns of behaviour in those with whom they are working offers tentative opportunities for forging a healing connection.

While Equine Assisted Therapy is used for a wide range of emotional and physical difficulties, for children and young people with traumatised attachment histories who struggle to feel safe in connection with another, the parallel nature of these interactions seems to be naturally attuned to the developmental and emotional needs of the child or adult. Children and teens who have suffered physical/emotional abuse often need to engage in ‘parallel’ relational interactions before they feel safe and secure to enough to be open to more relationally based therapies. The nurturing structure and form of parallel communication occurring during interactional activities allow for moments of emotional connection that can be felt and experienced in new and different ways.

Horses are large and powerful animals inspiring both awe and potentially fear. Taking tentative steps towards approaching a horse or making gestures to invite proximity are often foundational moments to override fear and cultivate the beginnings of relational safety. Moments of interaction where a small task/activity is accomplished provide a new template for dealing with challenging life experiences.

What to expect from Equine Therapy:

  • Working on the ground with either one or two horses with two highly experienced practitioners: one a specialist in equine therapy and the other a horse specialist
  • Working at a child’s own pace and supporting them make their choices about how they wish to approach and interact with horses
  • Participate in simple exercises where appropriate like putting a bridle and saddle on the horse to actively encourage confidence and promote bonding experiences

Family Therapy

Family therapy (also known as family and systemic psychotherapy) is an approach that works with families and those in close relationship to support each other in the service of fostering change. This may be parents and children together and also include grandparents or others who are considered important within the family system. Family therapy helps family members share difficult thoughts and feelings in a therapeutic space in the hope of cultivating a shared understanding and appreciation of the differing needs and experience of others within the family system. Family therapy can be particularly helpful in supporting families when they feel emotionally overwhelmed, full of sadness or frustrated and angry. It can also help when families feel stuck in knowing what to do for the best or stuck in patterns of hurtful and harmful behaviours.

Family therapy views relationships as deeply resourcing and seeks to help people who care for each other find ways of coping with emotional distress in more collaborative and supportive ways. It is a particularly helpful relational approach across a broad spectrum of difficulties including; adults struggling with parenting; for children whose parents are suffering from a mental health problem, school-related difficulties, self-harming behaviours, stressful and traumatic life events such as divorce and separation, premature death of a parent or partner. It is a particularly helpful approach in working with looked after and adopted children and the complex difficulties such families often face.

What to expect from Family Therapy:

  • Support in understanding how the family is relating and communicating
  • Help in feeling safe enough to talk about difficult thoughts, feelings and patterns of behaviour as well as support in talking about the challenges the family may be facing
  • Developing specific strategies and skills to work positively with the conflict between adults and children
  • Understand patterns of communication within the family and developing skills that strengthen communication and cultivate listening

Music Therapy

Music has been used as a therapeutic tool in the service of healing for centuries. Rhythm is regulating; all cultures have some form of patterned, repetitive rhythmic activity as part of their healing and mourning rituals, which is partly why music is often regarded as one of the most powerful forms of communication. The engaging nature of music itself along with the diversity of musical forms makes music uniquely effective in helping people of all ages, whose lives have been affected by trauma, mental illness, physical injury or disability through supporting their psychological, emotional, cognitive, physical, communicative and social needs.

As an expressive and creative art therapy, music seeks to utilise tempo, rhythm and musical improvisation to enhance the emotional, psychological and physical well-being of individuals. Musical interactions also help in the exploration of deeper feelings where sound replaces words and rhythmic melody becomes the primary vehicle for communication. Music therapy is not about learning music or learning to use a specific musical instrument. It is more simply about using and exploring the different melodies of sound through musical interactions with various instruments and facilitating a musical conversation with the therapist in the service of healing.

Music involves patterned, repetitive rhythmic activation of the brainstem and can be seen as a brainstem modulating therapeutic intervention. This is particularly helpful when working with children and young people who have suffered from early impaired bonding experiences, attachment disruptions and loss. Musical interactions encourage connection and bonding between mother and baby, which is especially helpful for women suffering from postnatal depression. Music therapy is also a widely recognised as a specialist therapeutic intervention for young people suffering from brain injury or other neurological disabilities to assist in rehabilitation and improve quality of life.

What to expect from Music Therapy:

  • Working at a pace that is naturally attuned and responsive to your particular emotional and physical needs
  • The capacity to explore musical forms of communication that gently encourage self-expression
  • Taking part in rhythmic body-based activities to modulate and regulate states of anxiety, enhance relaxation and encouraging creative play
  • Playing with musical interactions and alterations in tempo and rhythm as a gentle way of challenging habitual patterns of communication

Non-violent Resistance Therapy

Non-Violent Resistance is a powerful and innovative form of systemic therapy, which has been developed specifically for working with children and young people with extremely challenging behavioural difficulties often involving aggression and violence as well as risky self-destructive behaviours. NVR is particularly effective in working with a child to parent violence, but it has also been adapted to work with children in foster care and residential settings as well as with adoptive families.

This approach originates in the non-violent political struggles led by Marin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. Unlike traditional forms of therapy, the success of NVR is not solely dependent on the participation or cooperation of a child or young person within the family. Parents or carers together with their dedicated supporter(s) are coached in ‘taking action’ to reinstate boundaries while raising positive parental presence through the use of various reconciliatory interventions or techniques. Raising parental presence works to strengthen fractured family attachments, reduce conflict and rebuild trust and safety within the family.

What to expect from NVR:

  • Working to develop a range of de-escalatory skills to help prevent any symmetrical escalation occurring between parent and child to both manage and reduce conflict
  • Developing the skills required to increase parental presence and help refocus attachment interaction away from persistent conflict
  • Support in building a web of dedicated supporters once parents disclose the nature and extent of the problem with significant others
  • Support and guidance on how to work towards making an NVR ‘announcement’ relating to unacceptable and intolerable behaviours as well as help in making gestures of reconciliation

Play Therapy

Play Therapy is a psychotherapeutic approach primarily used to help children explore and express their feelings through play.  Therapeutic play offers children unique opportunities to explore and communicate their inner world in safe and developmentally appropriate ways.  The goal is to help children learn to express their feelings in healthier ways and discover new and more positive ways to solve problems.

In Play Therapy, a child is presented with an environment and a relationship where they will be able to express themselves through the natural language of play. A child may use a wide variety of role play toys, sand and small figures, puppets, arts and crafts, music and therapeutic stories to explore these feelings and experiences through the safe metaphor of play.

The child is fully accepted and supported in this exploration and expression and integrates a new sense of self, fostering a change both in their internal world and in their external behaviours. This change is facilitated through the child experimenting with new behaviours within appropriate limits. In this environment a child is empowered to develop resilience, self-control, confidence and a new sense of self. In turn, this enhances decision making, their relationships with others and their ability to learn and experience life fully. Final outcomes may be more general such as reduced anxiety; or specific, for example a change in behaviour in class or at home.

What to expect:

  • A therapeutic space that also includes the child’s parent or carer during the assessment process
  • An exploration of the child’s internal world reflected through intense emotions and problematic behaviours
  • Supporting parents and carers better understand and make sense of their child’s communication attempts
  • Where appropriate, joint sessions with child and parent/carer to support the development of a more reflective stance
  • Therapeutic play activities involving arts and crafts, music, dancing, storytelling

Play Therapy is most useful for children aged 3-13 but can help young people of all ages.

Sensorimotor Therapy

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is a body-oriented approach to working with trauma. This approach is fully grounded in contemporary neuroscience research and attachment theory, but also deeply informed by the philosophical and spiritual practices of Buddhism. It has evolved over the last three decades into a complex and elegant form of body psychotherapy that gently weaves kindness, compassion and embedded mindfulness into all its therapeutic interventions. As a ‘bottom-up’ approach, it helps us to think sequentially especially when working with early developmental trauma.

While many therapeutic interventions depend almost entirely on verbal narrative, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy utilises the wisdom of the body as a key therapeutic and self-regulatory resource. It offers a unique lens to explore the language of the body by focussing explicitly on the sensory landscape of body sensations and impulses, micro muscular patterns of tension, body movements, posture and gesture as well as facial expressions, gaze resting responses and respiratory rhythms. By prioritising the somatic narrative, it is possible to access the story the body holds by tracking and sequencing somatic states of arousal as well as working more directly with defensive patterns.

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is a developmentally sensitive approach to working with children and young people who have histories of early impaired bonding and attachment disruptions or losses. Children who have suffered from early developmental trauma have compromised attachment capabilities and heightened relational sensitivities. This is reflected in defensive patterns of behaviour children with such histories exhibit as well as in their difficulties in tolerating and managing strong emotions. Children and young people are particularly vulnerable to being triggered by body-based physiological reminders of traumatic experience: sounds, smells, touch, body sensations and impulses as well as small shifts in posture, gesture and body movements.  Sensorimotor Psychotherapy works directly with children’s disrupted capacity for regulation and disrupted attachment systems by helping them to develop physiological and somatic regulatory capacities. As a “bottom-up” approach, it recruits the wisdom of the body to support children and young people Regulate, Relate and Reason.

What to expect from Sensorimotor Psychotherapy:

  • Helps children listen to the story of the body and helps them find words to describe this
  • Helps a young person develop skills of sensing the internal world of body sensations, impulses, muscular patterns of tension, orienting patterns, movement urges and postural patterns
  • Supports children to direct attention to present-moment body-based experience; five-sense perceptions, sensory sensations, micro movement patterns etc, while being motivated by curiosity and playfulness

Video Interactive Guidance (VIG)

Video interactive guidance is a respectful and non-judgmental intervention that aims to enhance communication within relationships between parents and children, teachers and pupils as well as between professionals to increase reflective practice. The key focus of VIG is to increase parental sensitivity and attunement to a child’s verbal and non-verbal communications. VIG is fundamentally a strength-based intervention that works in collaboration with parents to nurture the skills of communication that enrich and empower attachment relationships.

Parents are invited to think about what they would hope to change and focus on a specific goal. Brief moments of parent-child interaction are filmed and only successful moments are selected to celebrate what is going well. Those small celebratory moments that are captured during filming are shared in a video feedback review. The review also allows for opportunities to reflect more deeply on shared moments of success and to build a better understanding of their parenting role in relation to their children’s needs and how best to meet them. VIG interventions are also especially helpful in supporting infants and mothers to increase maternal sensitivity and promote bonding and attunement. VIG can also be integrated within broader therapeutic approaches such as parent-infant psychotherapy to support interactions of parents who have trauma histories.

What to expect from VIG:

  • Greater understanding and new ways of thinking about parent-child communications
  • Filming ten minutes of parent-child interaction using various activities, which is shared during a review to highlight what is working well
  • Able to manage difficult and challenging behaviours more effectively
  • Feel better about your relationship with your child

Therapies we can offer for Children and Families:

We can offer a wide range of therapeutic approaches for children and families. Sometimes, we may decide that a combination of different therapeutic interventions would better match the unique needs of a child or young person.

Some of the therapies we offer include:

Art Therapy

Art therapy is a distinct discipline that incorporates creative methods of expression through visual art media.  Art therapy, as a creative arts therapy profession, has its origins in the fields of art and psychotherapy.  It is founded on the belief that self-expression through artistic creation has therapeutic value for those who are healing or seeking a deeper understand of themselves.  From a Jungian perspective, art therapy is a form of symbolic language originating from the unconscious which is significant in helping the individual with the integration of the psyche. For these reasons, art therapists are extremely aware of issues on confidentiality and boundaries.

Art therapists look for opportunities to help their clients identify, express and process emotions that might otherwise remain hidden or stuck.  This is achieved through the use of ‘art media’ to help children, adolescents and adults to express, communicate and explore their feelings.  Within this context, art is not used as a diagnostic tool but as a medium to address emotional issues which may be confusing or distressing.

Art therapy is an effective psychological intervention to treat mild to severe mental health problems.  Creating images can help transform an individual’s imagination and lived experiences so that they can begin to work through difficult events. This can take the form of storytelling through pictures and allows for time and space to develop the ability to reflect and process information.

What to expect from Art Therapy:

  • Exploring feelings using creative techniques such as drawing, painting, colouring etc
  • Developing self-awareness
  • Increasing self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Reducing anxiety and building resilience
  • Developing social skills

Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy

Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy offers an effective treatment for emotional and psychological difficulties from infancy through to late adolescence. Child and Adolescent Psychotherapists are dedicated to understanding the complex emotional lives of infants, children, young people, families and carers in great depth. This approach seeks to look below the surface of problematic behaviours helping children, young people and their families/carers understand and make sense of what is driving such difficulties. One of the key aims is to understand what a child or young person is attempting to communicate through difficult emotions, behaviours and play. Their distinctive training enables them to develop and sustain relationships with children and young people whose difficulties may be rooted in early trauma, attachment disruptions and neglect, which often renders them vulnerable to blocking opportunities for the care and nurturing needed for healing and recovery.

Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy works with children and young people individually or with other family members as well as the professional network around them to actively encourage a deeper understanding from the child’s perspective. During a therapeutic session, younger children may be encouraged to play, while older children may be asked to draw or paint and teenagers to talk about their feelings. Through the relationship with the therapist in a safe setting, the child or adolescent may begin to know and to feel able to express their most troubling thoughts and feelings.  Gradually as these feelings are understood and put into words, there is less need in acting out through behaviour or unhelpful ways to self and other. Part of this process involves helping a child or young person build the internal resources that support their readiness for learning and their ability to form and sustain relationships with friends, family and other significant people in a child’s world.

What to expect from Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy:

  • An exploration of a child or young person’s internal anxieties reflected through problematic behaviours and intense emotions
  • Supporting a child or young person develop a better understanding of their troubling thoughts and hurt feelings so they can learn healthier ways of relating
  • Supporting parents and carers to understand and make sense of their child’s communication attempts and to help parents consider the child’s perspective
  • Supporting parents/carers to develop a more reflective stance as well as strengthen their resources for the task of parenting

Circle Of Security (COS)

The Circle of Security is a well-established parenting programme founded on attachment theory and research, and is used to enhance the security between parent and child. COS is a gentle approach to parenting that focuses on the needs of the child and helps parents/care-givers to understand what underpins the child’s behaviour and identify the different needs that provoke the child’s reactions to situations. The programme also encourages parents/care-givers to help their child understand his or her feelings and why he or she is experiencing them.

Therapists work with parents and care-givers to help them to:

  • Understand the child’s emotional world by learning to read emotional needs
  • Support the child’s ability to manage their emotions successfully
  • Enhance the development of the child’s self esteem
  • Respect the innate wisdom and desire for the child to be secure

The programme is delivered over an eight week period in 90 minute sessions using videos, handouts and discussion.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) focuses specifically on helping children and young people develop an understanding of the relationship between thoughts, feelings and behaviour. CBT can help to improve a child’s moods, anxiety and behaviour by helping them explore confused and distorted patterns of thinking. In particular, CBT focuses on teaching children that thoughts have a direct influence on feelings and moods, which often then impacts on behaviour. In CBT therapy, a child or young person will learn to identify harmful and self-defeating thought patterns and develop the skills required to challenge and change the negative beliefs that often underpin such thinking styles. Parents or carers play a key part in co-facilitating therapeutic work outside of sessions and in supporting a child to meet the goals that are set and agreed.

CBT has a strong evidence base and is perhaps one of the most popular therapeutic approaches. CBT is an effective intervention for treating a wide range of psychological difficulties.  Some of these include depression, anxiety, separation anxiety, panic, sleep problems, obsessional difficulties, phobic fear of sickness and various other phobias, self-esteem issues and body-image problems.  It is also often particularly helpful for a range of physical symptoms without any specified medical diagnosis such as chronic pain. CBT is an extremely pragmatic and highly structured approach that focuses specifically on present difficulties.

What to expect from CBT:

  • Working to break down difficulties into distinct parts: thoughts, feelings, actions as well as corresponding body sensations
  • Homework is a key part of CBT and daily observation records help in understanding how thoughts influence feelings and behaviours in real-time
  • Agreed treatment goals at the end of each session along with possible practice experiments between sessions supported by parents where appropriate
  • The practice work will help to identify the pacing interventions so that a child or young person is working within his or her own window of emotional tolerance while challenging it at the same time

Dramatherapy

Drama therapy is an extremely powerful and creative therapeutic intervention that focuses on the healing aspects of drama and theatre as an exploratory tool in therapy. The transformative power of theatre and storytelling captures the imagination in playful and magical ways. Drama and play are an integral part of children’s everyday lives as well as being a vital part of their emotional and social development. Drama allows a child or young person to explore difficult and hurt feelings in refreshingly novel and creative ways. Some of these include; play, role- play, story, art, music and movement. This may also involve a range of playful and fun activities using puppets, masks, paints and costumes.

The idea is to create an imaginative story that supports a child or young person create a safe space to communicate and explore difficult feelings without this engendering a sense of threat. The storytelling or fictional aspect of drama serves as an emotional filter and creative container. This helps children and young people work with hurt and confusing feelings in ways that offset the fear of being overwhelmed by allowing them to tentatively step towards an exploration at their own pace and more indirectly. Drama therapy works well with groups of children and young people, but also individually. It is an effective therapeutic intervention for a range of psychological and mental health difficulties with children and teens.

What to expect from Drama Therapy:

  • Exploring feelings and relationships by using various playful ‘props’ such as puppets and other appropriate performance materials
  • Support, encouragement and guidance in the creative engagement of dramatizing and transforming personal stories and painful feelings using artistic interventions
  • Joint engagement in ‘make-believe’ as part of a shared experience to discover and self-create new perspectives on the survival of adversity and help build resilience

Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP)

Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy is a neurobiologically informed attachment-focused therapy originally developed by Dr Dan Hughes to work with fostered and adopted children who had suffered from early impaired bonding, trauma and chronic neglect in their family of origin. When a child is exposed to frightening experiences over prolonged periods of time this can result in what is known as developmental trauma. When the world is safe, predictable and nurturing, a child will blossom and grow. If their developing world is chaotic, threatening and devoid of kindness or caring relationships, a child may suffer from overwhelming feelings of sadness, loneliness and despair. The family-focused therapeutic interventions of DDP works towards repairing the trauma of early abuse and neglect.

DDP gently weaves the key neuro nurturing principles of sensitivity, attunement and responsiveness into all its therapeutic interventions. This provides a foundational therapeutic platform to restore trust and safety required to work with a child’s compromised attachment capabilities and relational sensitivities. This approach prioritises the vital role of adoptive parents, foster parents and other key attachment figures in helping a child heal from the trauma they have suffered in early life. Therapeutic parenting based on the key principles of PACE is also regarded as a vital part of the healing process. This involves the kind of parenting that seeks to nurture playfulness, acceptance and curiosity to deepen connection and foster attachment.

What to expect from DDP:

  • Working with parents/carers to build on their natural parenting style in ways that enhance sensitivity and attunement to the complex attachment needs of their child
  • Supporting parents/carers to reflect on how their early attachment histories shape their parenting style and attachment communications
  • New ways of understanding the difficulties traumatized children face in attachment relationships and building key therapeutic resources to cultivate trust and safety
  • Working with both parents and children to create opportunities for attunement and override patterns of ‘blocked care’ through playfulness, curiosity and empathy

EMDR

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a distinct therapeutic intervention or technique that uses what is called bilateral stimulation (BLS) in order to help process distressing memories related to traumatic experiences. When children and young people experience traumatic and negative events like abuse, bullying, violence at home, accidents or the sudden death of someone close to them, the brain creates special memory boxes or files that hold all those painful and distressing thoughts, feelings and body sensations connected to these events. Children who have experienced traumatic events can easily get stuck in defensive behavioural patterns, often reflected in heightened anger (fight reactions) or chronic avoidant behaviours (flight reactions).  This is the body’s solution to a perceived threat or danger only it no longer exists.

Unless a child or young person has support in processing distressing and traumatic experiences, they remain vulnerable to being triggered by small everyday reminders that may evoke similar feelings, such as being ignored, a friend or classmate making fun of them or by parents/carers asking them to do their homework or saying ‘no’. EMDR helps the brain reorganise these painful memories so they no longer hold the power to trigger feelings of anger, sadness and confusion, or leave a child thinking and believing that something is wrong with them or they are not good enough.

EMDR is not a ‘magical’ cure but is considered to be a safe and effective therapy for children suffering from post-traumatic stress or who have a history of attachment difficulties. It can also be used alongside other creative therapies such as art therapy and play therapy depending on a child’s needs and age.

What to expect from EMDR:

  • One of the many things that happen with EMDR is we move our eyes from one side to the other while thinking about a negative and distressing event
  • Listening to special music or tapping hands/knees or moving from one foot to the other to help the brain file away hurt and painful feelings, thoughts and body sensations
  • Doing some drawings or art and perhaps puppet work as well as other rhythmic body-based activities to help the brain defrost and process bad experiences

Equine Therapy

Equine assisted psychotherapy (EAP) is a powerful and effective experiential therapeutic approach that uses the dynamic nature of horses to address a variety of emotional difficulties in children, young people and adults. It allows children and teens to take an active role in their recovery and provides a profoundly enriching environment for healing to unfold. The focus of equine therapy is not on riding or horsemanship but takes place purely on the ground through various structured interactions between children and horses. This often involves activities such as grooming, feeding, haltering and leading a horse that are supervised by a fully qualified Equine Psychotherapist and a Horse Specialist. Such activities naturally strengthen the capacity for assertiveness and development of problem-solving skills as well as relationship building.

During interactions with the horse, the equine therapists will observe certain patterns of behaviour or enquires on thoughts and feelings that may be emerging during a session. Our proximal closeness and/or distance during these interactions shows how the body is mapping the parameters of safety or threat, which is often a reflection of our early attachment experiences. Horses display gentleness and tenderness and their implicit sensory sensitivities together with their natural capacity for attunement and mirroring the patterns of behaviour in those with whom they are working offers tentative opportunities for forging a healing connection.

While Equine Assisted Therapy is used for a wide range of emotional and physical difficulties, for children and young people with traumatised attachment histories who struggle to feel safe in connection with another, the parallel nature of these interactions seems to be naturally attuned to the developmental and emotional needs of the child or adult. Children and teens who have suffered physical/emotional abuse often need to engage in ‘parallel’ relational interactions before they feel safe and secure to enough to be open to more relationally based therapies. The nurturing structure and form of parallel communication occurring during interactional activities allow for moments of emotional connection that can be felt and experienced in new and different ways.

Horses are large and powerful animals inspiring both awe and potentially fear. Taking tentative steps towards approaching a horse or making gestures to invite proximity are often foundational moments to override fear and cultivate the beginnings of relational safety. Moments of interaction where a small task/activity is accomplished provide a new template for dealing with challenging life experiences.

What to expect from Equine Therapy:

  • Working on the ground with either one or two horses with two highly experienced practitioners: one a specialist in equine therapy and the other a horse specialist
  • Working at a child’s own pace and supporting them make their choices about how they wish to approach and interact with horses
  • Participate in simple exercises where appropriate like putting a bridle and saddle on the horse to actively encourage confidence and promote bonding experiences

Family Therapy

Family therapy (also known as family and systemic psychotherapy) is an approach that works with families and those in close relationship to support each other in the service of fostering change. This may be parents and children together and also include grandparents or others who are considered important within the family system. Family therapy helps family members share difficult thoughts and feelings in a therapeutic space in the hope of cultivating a shared understanding and appreciation of the differing needs and experience of others within the family system. Family therapy can be particularly helpful in supporting families when they feel emotionally overwhelmed, full of sadness or frustrated and angry. It can also help when families feel stuck in knowing what to do for the best or stuck in patterns of hurtful and harmful behaviours.

Family therapy views relationships as deeply resourcing and seeks to help people who care for each other find ways of coping with emotional distress in more collaborative and supportive ways. It is a particularly helpful relational approach across a broad spectrum of difficulties including; adults struggling with parenting; for children whose parents are suffering from a mental health problem, school-related difficulties, self-harming behaviours, stressful and traumatic life events such as divorce and separation, premature death of a parent or partner. It is a particularly helpful approach in working with looked after and adopted children and the complex difficulties such families often face.

What to expect from Family Therapy:

  • Support in understanding how the family is relating and communicating
  • Help in feeling safe enough to talk about difficult thoughts, feelings and patterns of behaviour as well as support in talking about the challenges the family may be facing
  • Developing specific strategies and skills to work positively with the conflict between adults and children
  • Understand patterns of communication within the family and developing skills that strengthen communication and cultivate listening

Music Therapy

Music has been used as a therapeutic tool in the service of healing for centuries. Rhythm is regulating; all cultures have some form of patterned, repetitive rhythmic activity as part of their healing and mourning rituals, which is partly why music is often regarded as one of the most powerful forms of communication. The engaging nature of music itself along with the diversity of musical forms makes music uniquely effective in helping people of all ages, whose lives have been affected by trauma, mental illness, physical injury or disability through supporting their psychological, emotional, cognitive, physical, communicative and social needs.

As an expressive and creative art therapy, music seeks to utilise tempo, rhythm and musical improvisation to enhance the emotional, psychological and physical well-being of individuals. Musical interactions also help in the exploration of deeper feelings where sound replaces words and rhythmic melody becomes the primary vehicle for communication. Music therapy is not about learning music or learning to use a specific musical instrument. It is more simply about using and exploring the different melodies of sound through musical interactions with various instruments and facilitating a musical conversation with the therapist in the service of healing.

Music involves patterned, repetitive rhythmic activation of the brainstem and can be seen as a brainstem modulating therapeutic intervention. This is particularly helpful when working with children and young people who have suffered from early impaired bonding experiences, attachment disruptions and loss. Musical interactions encourage connection and bonding between mother and baby, which is especially helpful for women suffering from postnatal depression. Music therapy is also a widely recognised as a specialist therapeutic intervention for young people suffering from brain injury or other neurological disabilities to assist in rehabilitation and improve quality of life.

What to expect from Music Therapy:

  • Working at a pace that is naturally attuned and responsive to your particular emotional and physical needs
  • The capacity to explore musical forms of communication that gently encourage self-expression
  • Taking part in rhythmic body-based activities to modulate and regulate states of anxiety, enhance relaxation and encouraging creative play
  • Playing with musical interactions and alterations in tempo and rhythm as a gentle way of challenging habitual patterns of communication

Non-violent Resistance Therapy

Non-Violent Resistance is a powerful and innovative form of systemic therapy, which has been developed specifically for working with children and young people with extremely challenging behavioural difficulties often involving aggression and violence as well as risky self-destructive behaviours. NVR is particularly effective in working with a child to parent violence, but it has also been adapted to work with children in foster care and residential settings as well as with adoptive families.

This approach originates in the non-violent political struggles led by Marin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. Unlike traditional forms of therapy, the success of NVR is not solely dependent on the participation or cooperation of a child or young person within the family. Parents or carers together with their dedicated supporter(s) are coached in ‘taking action’ to reinstate boundaries while raising positive parental presence through the use of various reconciliatory interventions or techniques. Raising parental presence works to strengthen fractured family attachments, reduce conflict and rebuild trust and safety within the family.

What to expect from NVR:

  • Working to develop a range of de-escalatory skills to help prevent any symmetrical escalation occurring between parent and child to both manage and reduce conflict
  • Developing the skills required to increase parental presence and help refocus attachment interaction away from persistent conflict
  • Support in building a web of dedicated supporters once parents disclose the nature and extent of the problem with significant others
  • Support and guidance on how to work towards making an NVR ‘announcement’ relating to unacceptable and intolerable behaviours as well as help in making gestures of reconciliation

Play Therapy

Play Therapy is a psychotherapeutic approach primarily used to help children explore and express their feelings through play.  Therapeutic play offers children unique opportunities to explore and communicate their inner world in safe and developmentally appropriate ways.  The goal is to help children learn to express their feelings in healthier ways and discover new and more positive ways to solve problems.

In Play Therapy, a child is presented with an environment and a relationship where they will be able to express themselves through the natural language of play. A child may use a wide variety of role play toys, sand and small figures, puppets, arts and crafts, music and therapeutic stories to explore these feelings and experiences through the safe metaphor of play.

The child is fully accepted and supported in this exploration and expression and integrates a new sense of self, fostering a change both in their internal world and in their external behaviours. This change is facilitated through the child experimenting with new behaviours within appropriate limits. In this environment a child is empowered to develop resilience, self-control, confidence and a new sense of self. In turn, this enhances decision making, their relationships with others and their ability to learn and experience life fully. Final outcomes may be more general such as reduced anxiety; or specific, for example a change in behaviour in class or at home.

What to expect:

  • A therapeutic space that also includes the child’s parent or carer during the assessment process
  • An exploration of the child’s internal world reflected through intense emotions and problematic behaviours
  • Supporting parents and carers better understand and make sense of their child’s communication attempts
  • Where appropriate, joint sessions with child and parent/carer to support the development of a more reflective stance
  • Therapeutic play activities involving arts and crafts, music, dancing, storytelling

Play Therapy is most useful for children aged 3-13 but can help young people of all ages.

Sensorimotor Therapy

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is a body-oriented approach to working with trauma. This approach is fully grounded in contemporary neuroscience research and attachment theory, but also deeply informed by the philosophical and spiritual practices of Buddhism. It has evolved over the last three decades into a complex and elegant form of body psychotherapy that gently weaves kindness, compassion and embedded mindfulness into all its therapeutic interventions. As a ‘bottom-up’ approach, it helps us to think sequentially especially when working with early developmental trauma.

While many therapeutic interventions depend almost entirely on verbal narrative, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy utilises the wisdom of the body as a key therapeutic and self-regulatory resource. It offers a unique lens to explore the language of the body by focussing explicitly on the sensory landscape of body sensations and impulses, micro muscular patterns of tension, body movements, posture and gesture as well as facial expressions, gaze resting responses and respiratory rhythms. By prioritising the somatic narrative, it is possible to access the story the body holds by tracking and sequencing somatic states of arousal as well as working more directly with defensive patterns.

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is a developmentally sensitive approach to working with children and young people who have histories of early impaired bonding and attachment disruptions or losses. Children who have suffered from early developmental trauma have compromised attachment capabilities and heightened relational sensitivities. This is reflected in defensive patterns of behaviour children with such histories exhibit as well as in their difficulties in tolerating and managing strong emotions. Children and young people are particularly vulnerable to being triggered by body-based physiological reminders of traumatic experience: sounds, smells, touch, body sensations and impulses as well as small shifts in posture, gesture and body movements.  Sensorimotor Psychotherapy works directly with children’s disrupted capacity for regulation and disrupted attachment systems by helping them to develop physiological and somatic regulatory capacities. As a “bottom-up” approach, it recruits the wisdom of the body to support children and young people Regulate, Relate and Reason.

What to expect from Sensorimotor Psychotherapy:

  • Helps children listen to the story of the body and helps them find words to describe this
  • Helps a young person develop skills of sensing the internal world of body sensations, impulses, muscular patterns of tension, orienting patterns, movement urges and postural patterns
  • Supports children to direct attention to present-moment body-based experience; five-sense perceptions, sensory sensations, micro movement patterns etc, while being motivated by curiosity and playfulness

Video Interactive Guidance (VIG)

Video interactive guidance is a respectful and non-judgmental intervention that aims to enhance communication within relationships between parents and children, teachers and pupils as well as between professionals to increase reflective practice. The key focus of VIG is to increase parental sensitivity and attunement to a child’s verbal and non-verbal communications. VIG is fundamentally a strength-based intervention that works in collaboration with parents to nurture the skills of communication that enrich and empower attachment relationships.

Parents are invited to think about what they would hope to change and focus on a specific goal. Brief moments of parent-child interaction are filmed and only successful moments are selected to celebrate what is going well. Those small celebratory moments that are captured during filming are shared in a video feedback review. The review also allows for opportunities to reflect more deeply on shared moments of success and to build a better understanding of their parenting role in relation to their children’s needs and how best to meet them. VIG interventions are also especially helpful in supporting infants and mothers to increase maternal sensitivity and promote bonding and attunement. VIG can also be integrated within broader therapeutic approaches such as parent-infant psychotherapy to support interactions of parents who have trauma histories.

What to expect from VIG:

  • Greater understanding and new ways of thinking about parent-child communications
  • Filming ten minutes of parent-child interaction using various activities, which is shared during a review to highlight what is working well
  • Able to manage difficult and challenging behaviours more effectively
  • Feel better about your relationship with your child

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