Within Kedleston’s residential schools, many of the young people supported there have experienced significant trauma in their lives.
At Wings Cumbria, the clinical input from a team of specialists – supporting both staff and young people – can have a significant positive impact. The school offers wrap-around care with the full-time education and care staff joined by the clinical team of School Nurse, Educational and Clinical Psychologists and Speech and Language Therapist on a part-time basis.
The team offers an eclectic skill mix informed by attachment, behavioural, psychodynamic, cognitive behavioural and third wave cognitive behavioural therapy approaches (such as acceptance and commitment therapy and dialectical behaviour therapy),dyadic developmental psychotherapy, the PACE model of parenting, systemic, solution focussed, neurodevelopmental and trauma-based approaches for example eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing with adults and children).
Dr Nicola Kennelly, the school’s Registered Chartered Clinical Psychologist, has specialised in working with young people with developmental conditions including autism, as well as attachment difficulties. It has been beneficial draw her knowledge of the effects of nature and nurture in regards to the young people we care for, who come from complex situations. Her sessions can be limited and goal focussed or long-term weekly/two weekly support can also be offered.
Dr Nicola Kennelly, talks further of the approach taken at Wings Cumbria:
All of the team work side-by-side and offer a relational, behavioural and systemic approach towards supporting all of the school’s young people. This systemic approach is important, because not all young people benefit from, or require, individual therapy. In fact some young people can feel blamed, if they receive a message they need to be ‘fixed’.
All of our clinical team have training in, and a good understanding of attachment issues, complex behavioural presentations and management. All of the staff are involved in positively supporting the mental health of young people, with those staff the children interact with every day developing those vital positive relationships and understanding, and managing risk with support from myself as Clinical Psychologist where it is needed.
Working together, we get to know the needs of all of the children and young people and to support them appropriately.
Relationships are of prime importance and this is the key tool we use in supporting children and young people, building trust, using conversations to offer regular guidance and to encourage and support positive coping. This helps the young people develop those essential skills for resilience and explore positive coping strategies for good emotional regulation.
There is, of course, a place for individual therapy. However, not all therapy happens in “official” therapy sessions. Because we are onsite and know the children, often support can be engaged in a natural way in break and lunchtimes, even those who may have previously been ‘difficult to reach’ children and young people.
Because we are onsite so regularly, we can also be drawn in at a moment of crisis for children and young people, which has helped relationships to develop and prevented young people from undergoing further traumatic events, such as the need for a hospital admission (if this is safe to do so).
It has given the opportunity for the clinical team to observe young people, to have better knowledge of their experiences onsite, and therefore to provide better advice. This has strengthened individual clinical work, by noticing the positive developments and achievements of young people and being able to bring this back into clinical sessions.
This has also enabled the clinical team to develop good relationships with staff onsite by being accessible for advice and available to support any issues if required. This means that trust has developed enabling more honest conversations around the challenges that exist. Staff are supervised in groups every week, they also join therapy sessions to support young people they are close with, and can access individual support as required.
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