Therapeutic Approach

Owlswick School and Home – Thrive Programme

At Owlswick we know the Young People in our care are here because of experiences they have encountered in their lives so far.  Fundamental to the Owlswick philosophy is a child centred approach that views any difficult behaviour as a normal reaction to abnormal circumstances.

Our goal is to enable our young people to make sense of their lives and move into adulthood with an appreciation of their history and an understanding that they do not have to be driven by past events.

We have invested and continue to invest in a therapeutic programme which is called Thrive. This means that the Thrive approach underpins all that we do at Owlswick.

Thrive is ‘a systematic approach for the early identification of emotional developmental needs in children and young people.  Based on attachment theory and neuroscientific research, Thrive believes that by addressing the emotional developmental needs of each young person we enable emotional resilience, self-awareness and empathic understanding to develop.  Also, with its emphasis on differentiated provision for each child it offers a greater opportunity for learning.  It is preventative, reparative and pragmatic.

The Thrive philosophy underpins both home and school thus allowing our residents to enjoy consistency throughout their daily lives both in school and in the home. It is a programme that is used in a number of other residential settings and we have researched the beneficial effects of adopting this programme to support young people.

Whilst Thrive sets the foundation for our young people, each resident will during their time with us, work with our therapist.     Therapeutic provision is tailored to each young person’s specific behaviour difficulties, attachment history and current struggles.    This input will vary from short term crisis work to long term developmental work depending on each individual’s needs. Such need will be determined and negotiated between the young person, the therapist and where appropriate key worker and/or primary carer.

As well as offering a therapeutic space for Young People to achieve an understanding of their inner world, we are also able to offer Therapeutic Life Story Work with the primary carer and young person.

Therapeutic Life Story Work differ from Life Story or Life History work and is a defined approach offering a process that enables exploration of a child’s history and the wider history of the family via direct work.   This is carried out with the young person and primary carer so that both can develop their knowledge of each other and begin to understand the behaviours, feelings and cognitive processes that manifest within the placement.   The therapy is designed to introduce the past as a set of markers for the present.   Once these are understood the child can then be supported to consider if he wants to be led by the past events, or to make significant changes as a result of new awareness.    This way of working has proven effective where a placement may be in danger of breaking down and is a long term therapeutic process that benefits all involved.    It is also a NICE (National Centre for Clinical Excellence) recommended therapy for children in care.

It is difficult to grow up as a psychologically heathy adult if one is denied access to one’s own history. (Fahlberg 2008)

The therapist at Owlswick has over 25 years of experience working with attachment issues, sexual abuse, eating disorders, self-harm, anxiety conditions, ADHD, loss, bereavement and various emotional/psychological difficulties.   She has recently gained a Diploma in Therapeutic Life Story Work and is a Thrive Practitioner.   She would describe herself as working in a humanistic manner in Art, Play and Narrative therapy, using psychodynamic thinking to inform her practice.   She is also a Lecturer in Person Centred Counselling, Supervisor and Trainer and is an Accredited Member of the BACP