Child and Family Mental Health Clinic

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Here at Beacon House we have a team of chartered psychologists, psychotherapists and a psychiatrist who can work with a wide range of emotional and behavioural difficulties within families.

Our Child and Family practitioners all come with many years’ experience of working playfully, skillfully and creatively with young people of all ages, meaning that we can adapt what we offer to suit the particular needs and communication style of the child.

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Beacon House has strong links with a range of other specialist professionals who we work closely with. This means that when it is helpful for a child or young person to have a multi-disciplinary approach, we can work as a team around them. We are a multi-disciplinary team and we take pride in ensuring that all aspects of the child and family’s mental health is integrated into the treatment plan. Our psychiatric service enables us to consider medication as an adjunct to psychological therapy which sometimes stabilizes the child so that they can benefit from psychological therapy

In addition to our specialist Trauma Clinic, our Autistic Spectrum Condition Clinic, and our services for Looked After and Adopted children, we offer the following services to children and teens with emotional problems:

Therapeutic Services

Children, teenagers and families bring a range of difficulties to therapy. Problems we commonly offer support for include:

Low mood Anxiety Panic OCD Family relationship conflict Low self esteem Friendship problems Loss and bereavement Separation anxiety Anger and aggression Non compliance School refusal Difficulties bonding between a parent and their baby Adjustment to parent separation Self-harming and suicidal thoughts Gender identity discomfort
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At Beacon House we enjoy working with children, teens and families who come from diverse backgrounds. We have members of the team with extensive experience and passion for working with same sex families and young people who identify themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual. We also have a specialist practitioner in working with gender identity confusion.

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We begin any therapeutic relationship with a child and their family by offering a therapeutic needs assessment over the first two or three sessions. This means that we think with the child about what their hopes and goals are for the work, and we consider which ways of working would help them to achieve their hopes. We have a range of evidence-based therapeutic approaches on offer and we often combine them to create a unique therapy for each child we work with

Child and Family therapies available at Beacon House include:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

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CBT is an effective treatment for difficulties such as low mood and anxiety in young people. It can help the child make sense of overwhelming problems by breaking them down into smaller parts. This makes it easier to see how they are connected and how they are negatively affecting a child’s thoughts, feelings, behaviours and bodily sensations.

CBT believes that how a child thinks about a problem can affect how they feel physically and emotionally. When doing CBT, the child and their parent/carer are asked to describe their specific goals; and a number of different techniques are used to chip away at the strength of the negative beliefs that the child holds about themselves and about the way the world works. By changing these negative beliefs to more balanced ones, the child will experience a change in their feelings and behaviour.
Parents are often brought in as co-therapists to the CBT so that the support they offer their child outside of the therapy sessions is supports change and progress.

CBT has a wealth of evidence to show that it is highly effective with children and teenagers. For more information on CBT visit www.babcp.com. Within the team we have a number of Child and Adolescent Psychologists who bring expertise in adapting CBT to working with children and teenagers.

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EMDR

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EMDR is a psychotherapy that enables children to heal from emotional distress that is the result of disturbing or stressful life experiences. EMDR is a powerful and very effective therapy for a range of traumatic events from ‘minor’ one off events to more complex, repeated traumas. It is also used with great effect to help broader difficulties such as low mood; low self-esteem, anxiety and phobias.

At the time of a traumatic event strong emotions interfere with a child’s ability to completely process the experience – and bad experience can become ‘frozen in time’. When that distressing event is remembered, it can feel to the child like they are re-living it all over again because the smells, sounds and images still feel as real as they did when the traumatic event happened. This can keep the child stuck in fight-flight-freeze mode because their brain is trying to survive danger which it perceives, but which is no longer there.

EMDR psychotherapy works by ‘unfreezing’ the traumatic memories, enabling the child to resolve them. Over time, the disturbing memory and associated beliefs and feelings become digested and worked through until the child is able to think about the event without re-living it. The memory is still there, but it is far less upsetting and no longer has such a big impact on the child’s quality of life.

A number of us in the team are specifically trained to offer EMDR to children and teenagers. EMDR is offered in a phased, playful and creative way to take into account the child’s age and their ability to cope with strong negative emotions. For more information on EMDR visit www.emdrassociation.org.uk.

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Family Therapy

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Family Therapy – or to give it its full title, Family and Systemic Psychotherapy – helps people in a close relationship help each other. It enables family members, couples and others who care about each other to express and explore difficult thoughts and emotions safely; to understand each other’s experiences and views; appreciate each other’s needs; build on strengths and make useful changes in their relationships and their lives. Individuals can also find Family Therapy helpful as an opportunity to reflect on important relationships and find ways forward.

Family Therapy creates a safe space to enable people to talk, together or individually, often about difficult or distressing issues, in ways that respect their experiences and invite engagement and support recovery. It is a relational process and it is important that everyone in the family is ready and willing to engage in thinking about change.

Research shows Family Therapy is useful for children, young people, adults and older adults experiencing a wide range of difficulties and circumstances including couple relationship difficulties; child and adult mental health issues; the effects of trauma; parenting struggles; illness and disability; eating disorders; fostering, adoption and the needs of Looked After Children; self-harm; and issues related to life cycle changes. A leaflet about Family Therapy can be downloaded here.

The Systemic Family Therapists in the Beacon House Team come with extensive experience working with a large range of problems experienced within families. We warmly welcome working with diversity and difference within family systems.

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Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP)

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DDP is an attachment-focussed family therapy, developed by the psychologist Daniel Hughes, to support families who are caring for a traumatised child. DDP is often used with fostered and adopted children, as well as children being cared for by their birth parents.

This approach principally involves creating a playful, accepting, curious, and empathic (known as PACE) environment where the therapist attunes to the child’s experiences and reflects this back to the child through eye contact, facial expressions, gestures and movements, voice tone, timing and touch. By doing this, the therapist “co-regulates” emotions and “co-constructs” an alternative life story with the child. The child’s parents or carers are supported to share the same role, and the hope within DDP is that in time, the child and his or her parent/carer will have a more attuned relationship and a closer emotional connection.
For more information about DDP visit www.ddpnetwork.org.

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Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy

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Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy is a form of therapy offered to children and young people to help them make sense of their experiences, build up their internal resources and heal unresolved trauma. This way of working uses the therapeutic relationship between the psychotherapist and the child or young person to create a sense of containment, and a safe place to explore and ‘act out’ distress in other parts of the child’s life and history. Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy is offered with only the child in the room. Parents of younger children are updated with the therapy progress at intervals during the work; however adolescents may prefer for the work to remain completely confidential, and this is respected.

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Video Interaction Guidance

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Video Interaction Guidance (VIG) aims to improve the communication within relationships, most often between parents and their children but it can also be used with other relationships such as teachers and their pupils. The VIG approach is based on building on individuals’ potential, strengths and their skills; and it values working with families in partnership rather than teaching them from a position of expertise. VIG takes place through a series of short films being taken of the parent/carer and their child interacting; followed by a review between the therapist and the parent/carer of the successful and hopeful moments of interactions captured on film.

Through this process, parents/carers become more sensitive to their children’s attempts to communicate with them, and they then become more successful at responding in a way that meets their child’s needs. Both parents and children often report feeling closer and better understood after a short VIG intervention. This approach can be used for new born babies and their parents to help with bonding, through to older children and adolescents. VIG is recommended by the Government NICE guidelines for the treatment of attachment difficulties in children. For more information and a great video about VIG visit www.videointeractionguidance.net

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Solution focused therapy

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Solution focused therapy focuses on what the child and family would like to achieve rather than on the problems that made them seek help in the first place. This therapy does not focus on the past, but instead, focuses on the present and future. Solution focussed therapy uses ‘respectful curiosity’ to encourage the child and family to imagine their preferred future, and then together the therapist and the child can start noticing any small steps towards it. Solution focussed therapy draws on questions about the child’s story, their strengths and resources, and times when the problems have not been so bad. This approach tends to be brief, and can be used for individuals, couples or families. For more information visit: www.brief.org.uk.

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Attachment focussed therapy

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We are able to offer individual attachment focussed therapy for children as young as five years old and up through to young adulthood. Attachment focussed therapy involves talking, drawing, playing and using the arts in a creative and child-led way. This way of working holds in mind the child’s unmet emotional needs; and in particular, their need for security, nurture, stability and predictability in the therapist. Attachment focussed therapy tends to take place over a number of months, which enables the child or young person to gradually come to trust their therapist, and open up to the possibility that their needs could be met and understood. Attachment focussed therapy is effective for children and young people who have suffered loss and trauma in their relationships; and who are struggling to trust others, tolerate intimacy and regulate their emotions. In some cases this work will bring the parents/carers together with their children to strengthen their bond, and ideas can be shared with the child’s support network about how to enable them to reach their own unique potential.

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Narrative therapy

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Narrative therapy is a collaborative and non-pathologizing approach to therapy which centers children and their parents/carers as the experts of their own lives. A narrative approach views problems as separate from people and sees children as having many skills, abilities, values, commitments, beliefs and competencies that will support them to change their relationship with the problems influencing their lives.

Stories in a ‘narrative therapy’ context emerge as certain events are privileged and selected out over other events as more important or true. As the story takes shape, it invites the child to further select only certain information while other events become neglected and thus the same story is continually told. As this process unfolds, the child’s old ‘problem-saturated’ story about themselves changes and is re-constructed to something hopeful. This approach can be used creatively on a 1:1 basis and also in family work.

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Mentalisation-Based Treatment

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Mentalization-Based Treatment (MBT) is a form of psychotherapy that was originally designed to help individuals with a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, or difficulties that fit with this diagnosis (Click here for information about the Beacon House Personality Disorder Service). We now know that MBT can be useful for any adult or adolescent who struggles with emotional instability, uncertain sense of self, and difficulties in relationships with other people.

‘Mentalizing’ is the ability to understand the meaning of behaviour (of others, and of ourselves), by understanding the thoughts and feelings that motivate the behaviour. Some individuals who have experienced trauma or challenges during the early years of their lives find this very difficult. MBT is centered around improving this ability. By beginning to understand other peoples’ thoughts and feelings, you can better understand why people behave in the ways that they do, and also become more tuned in to your own emotions, thoughts, and needs.

The objectives of MBT are increased stability in your emotional state, better control over your behaviours, happier and more fulfilling relationships with other people, and an improved capacity to pursue your life goals.

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Dramatherapy

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Dramatherapy is a type of psychotherapy using the art forms of drama and theatre. It is one of the Creative Arts Therapies which include art, music, drama and movement. It can be offered individually or in groups, and is a brilliant way to engage children and teenagers who find it hard to find words for the emotions. Dramatherapy sessions offer a space to express and understand feelings, using various methods including play, storytelling, puppetry, masks and improvisation. This indirect and highly creative approach to psychotherapy can be incredibly freeing for emotionally ‘stuck’ children and teenagers. It also a playful yet powerful way to involve the whole family in the resolution to the problem.

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Sensoriotor Psychotherapy

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Sensorimotor psychotherapy is an effective treatment for relieving and resolving the symptoms of early childhood trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is also helpful in the treatment of many other emotional and physical trauma-related health problems that comes with complex trauma. This therapeutic approach focusses on the child’s body sensations by working directly with the physiological elements. It uses the body (rather than thoughts or emotion) as a primary starting point which in turn facilitates emotional and cognitive processing. Sensorimotor psychotherapy is especially beneficial for working with dissociation, emotional reactivity or flat affect, frozen states or hyperarousal and other trauma-related symptoms; and it can be effectively used with children, teenagers and adults. For more information visit:
www.sensorimotorpsychotherapy.org

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Non-Violent Resistance Therapy (NVR)

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Non Violent Resistance (NVR) is an innovative form of systemic family therapy, which has been developed for aggressive, violent, controlling and self-destructive behaviour in young people. This approach is described by parents as liberating and empowering, and is shown to help reduce very challenging and sometimes risky behaviours in children.

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Assessment Services

Sometimes a psychological assessment is needed before a support plan can be put in place. This can be particularly helpful if the problems are long-standing, complex and if they include concerns about the child’s development. An assessment can help parents and professionals make sense of difficulties they have been observing for some time, and it can sometimes help children to access local services which otherwise would not be available to them.

Most of our assessments are carried out by a Clinical or an Educational Psychologist; and sometimes a team approach is needed to make sure we get the whole picture. All our assessments take place across three phases:

Pre-Assessment Phase

An initial consultation is offered with the child, parent/carer, and sometimes professionals to understand the hopes and goals of the assessment. Some initial information will be taken, and a plan for the assessment will be made.

Assessment Phase

A series of appointments will be offered with the child, parents/carers and the professional network. We always take a holistic approach to our assessments so that everyone’s voice is heard. Depending on the questions being asked in the assessment, we will probably carry out a range of psychological tests and observe the child in different settings.

Feedback Phase

A meeting is held to feed back the results of the assessment, and the full written report is given to the parents/carers and shared with the school if requested. The implications of the findings will be explored and most importantly, we will support the parent/carer to consider how the recommendations can be put in place.

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Examples of areas that we frequently assess include:

If the child is Looked After or Adopted, please see here for more information about our specialist assessment services.

Costs of assessments vary depending on the needs of the child and questions being asked. Please get in touch and we can give you a tailor made estimate.

Parenting consultation

In our experience, sometimes parents and carers just want a space to think through their concerns about their child, and come away with new ideas and strategies to try out in their own time. There is something to be said about starting work with the adults only, particularly if the child is very unsure about coming into therapy, or if there is a worry that bringing the child to see a professional might feel too ‘blaming’ for them. Parenting consultations can also be helpful when the child is very young.

We often offer parents consultation sessions over a short number of meetings and build up a picture of the challenges they face. We are then able to generate together new ideas for ways in which they can achieve their best hopes for their family. We might also work with the parents to help get them connected to other supportive resources.

Difficulties and hopes that parents have brought to us for consultation have included:

How to support their children through separation or divorce How to manage a child with emotional and behavioural problems How to improve communication with their teenager How to get on top of interrupted sleep Issues related to feeding and toileting How to feel more closely bonded with their child How to sensitively parent a traumatized child How to work more collaboratively with their child’s school How to support their child’s learning

Training and Consultation

We often support children indirectly through training and consultation to professionals in their network. This might be with their school, social work team, early years staff team or anyone else important in the child’s life. For more information please get in touch.

Getting in touch

If you have any questions about our services please feel free to pick up the phone to us on 01444 413 939 or send us an email on admin@beaconhouse.org.uk, we welcome informal conversations about whether we are the right service for you. To make a referral please see here.

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