At New Barn School we offer a variety of in-house therapies.
These are offered either as part of the statutory provision outlined in the student’s EHCPs, or a referrals pathway is followed by staff or parents if needs present. Below is an outline of the therapies that New Barn School provides, and an outline of the referrals pathway.
Speech and Language Therapists provide assessment and deliver therapy to support the development of speech, language and communication skills. They support students with needs in all areas of communication e.g. attention & listening skills, play skills, receptive language (understanding of spoken language), expressive language (use of spoken language) and speech sounds (the clarity of speech). As part of this, Speech and Language Therapists support students to understand and verbally express emotions through using tools such as ‘Zones of Regulation’. They also support with social communication skills such as eye-contact, waiting for your turn to speak, maintaining friendships, active listening skills and conversational skills. At New Barn School, Speech and Language Therapy is delivered 1-1 in order to personalise the intervention as much as possible. A social communication group is also being piloted, run jointly with our in house Occupational Therapist.
Therapeutic play is a form of child-led therapy. This form of therapy is used with children as they may not be able to process emotions or articulate feelings. In the sessions there are a variety of toys available across several categories and the therapy sessions are guided by the child. As well as providing a safe space to talk or just feel safe, in Play Therapy children are free to make their own decisions and choices during therapy in order to build confidence and grow self-esteem. As children often find it hard to express thoughts and feelings through words, therapeutic play explores play, imagination and movement to explore inner feelings.
The benefits of therapeutic play include; children developing coping strategies, an increase in self-esteem and self-respect, alleviating anxiety, understanding empathy and taking autonomy over their own choices and decisions.
Art psychotherapy is a form of psychotherapy that uniquely uses the art making process, as well as talking, as its primary mode of communication. It offers an opportunity for creativity and self-expression that helps to communicate emotions that may otherwise be difficult to verbalise. Art therapy sessions work on either a one-to-one basis or within a group depending on the needs of those taking part. Art therapy is a unique form of treatment for autism, helping to mitigate symptoms through channeling autistic behaviors into an expressive, creative outlet. It promotes communication, emotional growth and sensory integration while also fostering social interaction. The overall aim of art therapists is to enable a client to effect change and growth on a personal level through the use of art materials in a safe and facilitating environment. Crafting aesthetically pleasing artwork is not the goal - though it may be a happy by-product. Art therapy at New Barn School is practiced using a psychodynamic approach which integrates attachment theory, unconscious processes and is trauma and child developmentally informed. Art therapy is state recognised and regulated by the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC).
The social communication and interoception group is run jointly by our SALT and OTs. It aims to support students to develop their social communication and interaction skills through looking at areas such as how to initiate conversation, how to maintain conversation, how to be a good friend, how to stay on topic, how to take turns in conversation etc. It also aims to support students with emotional regulation and allows them to better understand how their bodies work. Being run as a small group, it allows positive social skills to be formed and plenty of opportunity for adult modelling and in depth discussion.
Music therapy in education is there to support the students’ wellbeing, expression and aspects of mental health. It offers the students a time and space to access what they need to with a trained professional. Its overarching aim, within education, is to allow the students to understand and therefore regulate their emotions more effectively. Consequently, this understanding positively effects the student’s behaviours, well enough to access their education effectively and to the best of their ability.
Occupational Therapists improve health and well-being through participation in occupation. The role of New Barn School’s Occupational Therapists (OTs) is to help enable neuro-diverse young people to improve participation in their occupations. Our OT’s are trained to understand the whole person, including physical, mental health, emotional and behavioural needs and their impact on school life. As a student they take on many different roles, such as being an academic scholar, the role of a friend, and as a self-carer. All those things have an impact on a young person’s health and well-being. OT’s do not try and change the student, they aim to develop something within them in order that they will be able to participate in the school environment. Through participation they can improve their self-esteem and self-confidence.
The New Barn OT’s assess how a young person functions within the school, home and socially. The OT deliver a person-centred approach in supporting a young person. OT’s consider the young person’s strengths, abilities and care needs and support them in finding out what they want and need to be able to do in the context of the environment (home, school, etc.)
Within New Barn School different types of intervention will be appropriate at various times according to the child or young person’s needs and development. The OT uses:
- A whole class or whole school (universal) approach: NBS OT’s collaborate with teachers and staff by providing relevant training and consultation for whole school or whole class approaches. The OT department can advise on reasonable adjustments, support the school’s handwriting policy development, and suggest environmental adaptations to support within classrooms, transitions and at lunchtimes or ensure the playground is inclusive. An occupational therapist can provide adaptations and specialist equipment so the child or young person can access table-top activities, working with technology to support a child or young person’s access to the curriculum or develop skills to play with peers during break times.
- A targeted or group approach: NBS OT’s work with individuals or groups of children or young people on activities such as improving emotional regulation, self-care, writing skills, keeping focused on a task, making friends or planning transitions.
- A specialist approach: NBS OT’s offer individualised 1:1 focused support for a young person by offering specialist intervention to work on develop motor coordination, emotional and sensory integration and modulation.
As New Barn School expands the OT and therapy department's goal is for the school to become a sensory trauma informed school.
New Barn Therapy Process Pathway
New Barn School offers a range of psychological modalities in Art Psychotherapy, Music Therapy, Play Therapy and ELSA (Emotional Literacy Support Assistant). Together, these therapeutic interventions offer the opportunity for creativity and self-expression that helps to communicate emotions that may otherwise be difficult to verbalise. New Barn has a highly knowledgeable and compassionate team of psychotherapeutic practitioners who deliver a person-centred approach to young people’s presenting needs. We work collaboratively with the whole eco-system of the school, balancing both issues of confidentiality and the importance of sharing information and safeguarding. We always aim to build personable and supportive relationships with parents of pupils who are referred to therapy.
Therapy sessions work on either a one-to-one basis or within a group depending on the needs of those taking part. Our range of New Barn Therapies can complement supporting autism, helping to mitigate symptoms through channeling autistic behaviors into expressive, creative outlets. When an effective therapeutic relationship is forged it can promote pupil’s communication, emotional growth and sensory integration while also fostering social interaction.
The overall aim of therapists is to enable pupil’s at New Barn to effect change and growth on a personal level. Depending on the creative intervention, this can be achieved through exploring a range of art materials, musical instruments, or sand play for example in a safe and facilitating environment.
Having a space at school to explore emotional and behavioral issues helps to regulate pupil’s affect in a session. This aims to support pupil’s ability to manage their school day more effectively, helping them resolve and settle their difficulties. The result of which, helps to raise their academic attainment by fostering a better ability to concentrate, and learn how to better self-regulate.
Referrals can come from different streams including parents, teachers, LSA’s or social workers. An initial Referral Form is filled out (ideally in collaboration with the named pupil) so that the therapist has an overview of the presenting issue(s) and subsequent therapy aims for the pupil to work towards. The form is then sent to the SENCo for consultation and triage.
Presenting issues for young people at New Barn that have been supported by art therapy to date:
- Current or historical trauma
- Sensory based issues
- Compulsive behaviours
- Attachment issues
- Self-harm and suicidal ideations
- Crisis support (sudden change in life circumstance)
Risk issues experienced by young people accessing art therapy at New Barn
These may be risks young people are currently experiencing or being exposed to, or may be past experiences that continue to trouble them.
- Family separation/loss
- Emotional/psychological/physical/sexual abuse
- Domestic abuse
- Family illness
- Online relationships and issues surrounding the digital world
Therapists have a weekly meeting on a Tuesday morning. An agenda point during our meeting offers a space for new referrals for the multidisciplinary team to consult on, and agree on the most effective type of intervention. A regular time is identified and then allocated for pupil and therapist to meet on a weekly basis.
Contact is then made by the therapist to the pupil’s parents or carers to gain consent, email them a therapy information pack, and in addition, seek relevant information about the pupil’s needs and background.
Three Assessment Sessions are then undertaken by the designated therapist, in order to see if the pupil responds to the opportunity of their therapy. During this initial stage, the pupil will be supported to agree on their therapeutic aims they may like to work towards. It is also a chance for the therapist to get to know the pupil, ascertain information of their background and understand their family structure.
If the pupil responds well after their 3 sessions, the therapy commences and a rough timescale for the course of intervention is identified.
New Barn RAG ratings are used in this process, collaborating on holistic aims from pupil’s Individual Education Map to work towards.
Therapy sessions are 40 minutes long and sessions are held at the same time and place. This supports pupil’s need for consistency, privacy and predictability for them to work with. During the course of the intervention, a therapeutic relationship is established with the pupil and their therapist.
The sessions are person-centred and are non-guided in approach. Whilst we have RAG ratings to aim towards, therapists can work with unpredictable and changing life events that can steer the therapy in different directions.
A person-centred approach is where the pupil is placed at the centre of their therapy, focusing on the pupil and what they would like to achieve. Therapists consider each pupil’s life experience, their family background, developmental stage, gender, sexual orientation, culture, language, beliefs and identity and be flexible to support the pupils wishes and autonomy. We use a strengths-based approach, where people are acknowledged as the experts in their life with a focus on what they can achieve.
Communication, confidentiality and information sharing
What the pupil decides to talk about or make in the sessions is confidential (the therapist does not share this with anyone else) with the exception of 3 occasions:
- During supervision, a regular meeting between the therapist and another qualified psychotherapist who helps them with their work, names are left anonymous.
- If the pupil discloses anything which makes the therapist suspect that they are at serious risk. In this situation it is the art therapist’s responsibility to report this and share information appropriately to the school safeguarding lead.
- If the pupil expresses a wish to show/share what they have been doing in art therapy. Children/YP are encouraged to think carefully before they do this and to wait until an appropriate time.
RAG Ratings are reviewed at the end of each term. These targets are rated Red Amber and Green and are able to track change using this scale. Using this method, we are able to review pupil’s progress, and observe any new or sudden life changes to consider. Depending on the presenting issues significant change can for some be a slow process - and even present with regressive behaviours. This could be as a result of a sudden life change in life circumstances (family illness for example) or a persistent and challenging familial structure that can often perpetuate poor emotional progress. Change is not linear, and regressive behaviours due to some of these examples are why long-term therapy is often needed.
At the end of each term a Termly Progress Report is completed. This piece of work assesses and collates core data from each individual, which can further support their views and wishes in consideration of their ongoing work. Parents and/or referrers are also invited to give their feedback towards the pupil’s therapeutic progress.
Ending therapy aims to ensure pupil’s emotional needs are ideally met both in an outside of the therapy room, and that RAG ratings are satisfied. Upon the completion of therapy an Ending Report is written, and shared with relevant individuals.
Sometimes the need for pausing therapy is considered throughout this process. For example, someone may be feel resistant to attending their sessions. If this is the case and 3 sessions are missed in a row, then therapy is reviewed and paused where appropriate.
New Barn School is committed to meeting the special educational needs of its pupils. On occasions, students will require additional support in the form of therapies. This provision will either be suggested by school in agreement with parents / carers or detailed as a statutory requirement on the student’s Education, Health and Care plan.