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Services

Schools

The role that schools play in promoting the resilience of their pupils is important, particularly so for some children where their home life is less supportive. School should be a safe and affirming place for children where they can develop a sense of belonging and feel able to trust and talk openly with adults about their problems

Department of Education (2016) Guidance: Mental health and behavior in schools

Child reading a book

Children spend more of their time in school than any other location. Teachers work hard to understand and meet the needs of multiple children alongside ensuring that they deliver the curriculum. Often teachers are the first to notice that something is not right for a child or young person. At Making Sense Of It we aim to enable teachers to feel confident in identifying mental health difficulties in their students. Following this, we will support school staff to explore what may help the student. With overstretched local mental health services, many teachers report that some children they are concerned about “fall through the gap” and they struggle to access timely support. At Making Sense Of It we work closely with schools to think about how we could help. This could include:

  • Consultation to teachers/SENCOs/teaching assistants. This will include a meeting within school with professionals, parents/carers, to explore the areas of difficulty, develop a shared understanding and agree a plan with recomendations.
  • Training - Whole school or small group training e.g. managing anxiety/depression, bereavement, dealing with disruptive behaviour, autism, attachment in the classroom, hard to reach children, working with parents.
  • Direct work with individuals or small groups of children
School supplies on a table

We can also work with schools to support them with the development and implementation of whole school mental health / emotional well-being support, including working within:

  • Special needs Schools
  • Local authority Primary and Secondary schools
  • Independent schools
  • Residential schools
For 10 – 20 year olds school is one of the key environments in which mental health problems can be identified and mental health support can be provided

Newman,T. (2004), What works in building resilience? Barnardo’s

Child and Family Mental Health

The emotional well-being of children is just as important as their physical health. Good mental health allows children and young people to develop resilience to cope with whatever life throws at them and grow into well-rounded, healthy adults.

The Mental Health Foundation

family with unbrealla

Children and families throughout their lives can struggle with a range of different issues. Often these problems may resolve of their own accord but at other times help from a specialist with experience in child development and mental health may be useful. It might be that you are a parent or carer who is worried about your child and would like to either talk to someone yourself, or seek some help for them directly. You may have noticed a change in their behaviour, or feel concerned that he/she is becoming withdrawn or seems overly anxious. You may be a young person yourself feeling overwhelmed by difficult thoughts or feelings, and would like to talk to someone directly. At Making Sense Of It we are passionate about supporting children and young people to live fulfilling lives. As experienced Chartered Clinical Psychologists, we have learnt through our practice that providing the right support as early as possible is essential. At Making Sense of It, we work with children and young people experiencing a range of mental health difficulties including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Bereavement
  • Family relationship difficulties
  • Autistic spectrum disorder
  • Attachment difficulties
  • School attendance
  • Trauma / Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
School supplies on a table

As Clinical Psychologists, we are both trained in a variety of different therapeutic models including for example cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT); attachment informed therapies; brief psychodynamic therapy; and systemic approaches. We work closely with the child and family to assess and come to a shared understanding of the difficulties and therefore what type of intervention would be best suited to meet their needs.

What to expect when we meet

We will discuss this together over the phone so this fits with your family, however generally for younger children we would meet with the parents or guardians first for about an hour so you can talk openly about your concerns. Following this meeting if we both feel that we can work together, we would then also meet with you again, together with your child. Older young people and adolescents may prefer to meet with us alone, or as a family you may feel that meeting altogether from the beginning is your preference. Following these meetings we will write a brief summary report with ideas and recommendations where appropriate.

Confidentiality

All information shared with us during both the assessment and intervention will be treated confidentially. This means that we will not talk about or share information about you or your family with other people unless we are worried that you (or your child) are being harmed or plan to harm themselves or someone else. For more information please see our full confidentiality policy

With good mental health, children and young people do better in every way. They enjoy their childhoods, are able to deal with stress and difficult times, are able to learn better, do better at school … and enjoy friendships and new experiences.

Young minds

Children with Learning Disabilities

These children are part of our community, not external to it. They are our nieces and nephews, the children of our neighbours and friends. In a very real way they are our children too. We have a responsibility as a community to do the best for these children, to support them in the best possible way in order to allow them to thrive. We need to take that responsibility seriously and believe that our actions can make a difference

Christine Lenehan 2017

girl with paint on her hands

Caring for a child with a disability can be both rewarding and challenging. The needs of the family and the child, can be different and need a tailored or specialist approach. Depending on the level of a child’s learning disability, they may be attending a local mainstream school, a special school, an independent school, or a residential school. We have experience working in and providing support to all of these educational settings. We aim to bring together all the different parts of a young person’s life to help it make sense to them and their family. We have links with a range of other specialist professionals, including Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists, Speech and Language Therapists and Occupational Therapists. Therefore if a multi-disciplinary approach is indicated we are able to support you to access this.

At Making Sense Of It, we have extensive experience supporting families, children and schools in the following areas:

  • Understanding and managing challenging behaviour (including functional analysis of behaviour and the development of positive behaviour support plans)
  • Cognitive and adaptive skills assessments
  • Support in the community
  • Supporting young people with positive peer relationships, managing anxiety, relationship and sex education
  • Parent and wider family support – post-diagnosis support, managing behaviour, sleep difficulties, sibling support
School supplies on a table

Working into schools

We can offer a variety of support into educational settings, including consultation to teaching staff in relation to specific children, whole school training and therapeutic support packages for either individual children or small groups of children. We can provide services into:

  • Special needs Schools
  • Local authority Primary and Secondary schools
  • Independent schools
  • Residential schools
Children and adults with learning disabilities are at least as likely to have a mental health problem as the general population. However, these problems often go undetected as the symptoms can be mixed up with the child or adult’s learning disabilities or challenging behaviour

The Challenging Behaviour Foundation 2017

Cognitive Assessments

A child’s cognitive/neuropsychological profile can explain issues as diverse as self-esteem, behaviour, and learning, is important in tracking progress and informing decision making.

Tonks etal, 2014

Hands making a house shape

A cognitive assessment can be helpful when a young person is struggling with learning in school or having difficulties in specific areas. The young person will engage in a series of activities/puzzles/tasks which have been specifically designed to gain a fuller understanding of a young person’s strengths and weaknesses in a variety of areas (e.g. ability to solve problems, remember information, interpret language, or process information). These cognitive assessment tools are standardised which means that clinical psychologists can make comparisons in skills and abilities between other young people of the same age. Alongside this face-to-face assessment, further information will be gathered from school and home via various questionnaires. The information gathered from the direct assessments, questionnaires and clinical interview is combined to help further understand the young person’s strengths and weaknesses. This can then be used to guide learning within school or help tailor interventions.

Cognitive Assessment with involve:

  • An initial appointment to gather relevant background information and developmental history
  • An assessment appointment with your child (approximately 2 hours)
  • A written report including recommendations
  • A 50-minute feedback session to discuss the assessment and recommendations.

Autism Diagnostic Service

To give the short version, I've learnt that every human being, with or without disabilities, needs to strive to do their best, and by striving for happiness you will arrive at happiness. For us, you see, having autism is normal -- so we can't know for sure what your 'normal' is even like. But so long as we can learn to love ourselves, I'm not sure how much it matters whether we're normal or autistic.

Naoki Higashida

Autism written out

The term Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) covers a huge range of presentations, skills and difficulties. Within this spectrum, children who might receive a diagnosis of Autism typically will have difficulties in the three areas: social interaction, communication and restrictive/repetitive behaviours. Autism is a lifelong condition, however the difficulties your child experiences may be more apparent at different stages in their life. Some children as young as two might receive a diagnosis; others may not until well into their teenage years, or even in adulthood. It is likely however, that you might have noticed some particular challenges for your child throughout their life. You may have noticed that your child is struggling socially at school, becomes very stressed with change in routines or new situations or is very worried much of the time.

Many children on the autism spectrum, and their families, benefit from having a diagnosis and an understanding of their profile of needs. Having an explanation for the difficulties that your child has been experiencing can bring a sense of relief. It can also provide you with the information you need to get access to the most appropriate education and services. Some people prefer not to get a formal diagnosis for their child. Sometimes a parent feels that their child will make greater progress if they do not think of themselves as having a disability.

At Making Sense Of It, we have joined with Speech and Language Therapists (SALT), Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists, and Occupational Therapists (OT) to develop a multidisciplinary diagnosis service. Giving an autism diagnosis to a child involves detailed and comprehensive assessment of all areas of their life. This autism diagnostic service is in line with the recommendations made by NICEabbr> in 2013.

An autism assessment will include the following:

  • The multidisciplinary team meeting with you and your child
  • Gathering information from school
  • A cognitive assessment and mental health assessment with your child
  • A communication assessment with your child
  • Completing standardised autism assessments called the ADOS 2 (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule – second edition) and the ADI-R (Autism Diagnostic Interview - Revised) to learn about your child.
School supplies on a table

We are flexible about how this comprehensive assessment is taken forward, some families prefer to do all the assessments in one day, whilst others might find that completing the assessments over a number of appointments is more manageable for them . The team will share their decision regarding the diagnosis with you together as a family, or separately depending which is felt more helpful. You will receive a full report outlining the assessment.

At Making Sense Of It we appreciate that receiving an autism diagnosis is a very significant event for all members of the family. We are able to offer follow up appointments or longer term support following diagnosis if this is felt helpful for you or your child.

If you would like to discuss a whether an autism assessment might be helpful for your child, please contact us and we will be happy to talk this through with you.

Autism, is part of my child, it's not everything he is. My child is so much more than a diagnosis

S.L. Coelho, 2011

Supervision & Training

A formal process for professional support and learning which enables individual practitioners to develop knowledge and competence, assume responsibility for their own practice and enhance consumer protection and safety in complex situations. It is central to the process of learning and scope of the expansion of practice and should be seen as a means of encouraging self-assessment, analytical and reflective skill

The Department of Health, 1993

signposts

Supervision

When professionals are working with young people, families, or adults with any mental health problems, it is essential that they have formal supervision processes in place to support them to be effective and safe practitioners. At Making Sense Of It, we both have extensive experience of providing supervision both to other clinical psychologists and other health/social care professionals. When choosing a supervisor it is important to find the person with both the right skills and someone who you feel able to develop a safe and trusting relationship with. If you are interested in discussing your supervision needs please get in touch with us and we would be happy to discuss this further.

Training

At Making Sense Of It we offer a variety of training packages which can be tailored to your needs. This could include training into educational settings, training for other health professionals or training for parents. Some examples of the kind of training packages that we could deliver include:

  • Understanding specific mental health difficulties e.g. managing anxiety and depression, self-harm in young people
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Bereavement
  • Understanding and supporting children with autism
  • Understanding and managing challenging behaviour
  • Attachment and trauma
  • Dealing with disruptive behaviour
  • Hard to reach children
  • School refusal
School supplies on a table
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