We know that this is a daunting time and you've to questions. Lots of them! Let's cover off a few of those worries straight away shall we?
Frequently asked questions
What if I have a complaint?
I'm not sure what my problem is, can you help me?
Many of the people we meet know that something is seriously wrong but can't pinpoint what the problem really is. This is where we come in. We are highly qualified and experienced and we will provide you with a detailed understanding of the root causes of your problems and what is maintaining them. We will then work with you to implement a strategy to change things for you.
I've already tried counselling. What's different about you?
My problems are very deep-rooted. Can you really make a difference?
Absolutely. As a team of highly trained and experienced psychologists we bring the very best tried and tested, scientifically proven methods from conventional psychology.
What if my family member refuses to come to the session?
Many of the people who first get in touch with us say that their partner, child or children are unwilling to come to the sessions. Rest assured there is still much to be gained by you coming on your own, even if the problem specifically relates to your partner, child or children. In fact, sometimes a partner or child are so impressed by the changes they see once your programme starts, that they decide to come along after all!
What methods do you use?
We use a range of techniques and therapies which are geared towards your unique needs and situation. These include, but are not limited to, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Verbal Behaviour (VB), Behaviour Activation Therapy, Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) and Acceptance and Commitment therapy (ACT).
Can you 'fix' my child.
No, we cannot. We work out what is, and what isn't, going on for your child and for you. We don't seek normalisation for our child as, quite frankly, normal is over rated. Our children are incredible and they deserve to be treated as so. Their individualities need celebrating. We will, however, work to remove our students' barriers to thriving. We cannot not do this on our own. Research, and our own experience, shows us that it is in the working as a partnership with our student's family that the magic lies! If you would like a team to come in, work with your child, and go... Then we are not the team for you. At our lovely school we work hand in hand with key individuals in the lives of our children. We equip parents, family members, guardians (including temporary guardians) and school teams how to implement recommendations as a way of life. In this way we maximise success for our children and ensure there aren't inconsistencies.
What will the counselling sessions be like?
The starting point is for you to come in for an initial consultation. This approximately 2 hour session will give you the opportunity to talk in depth about whatever issues are concerning you. At the end of this session we will have a good picture of what the key issue or issues are. We will then recommend how best to take things forward for you. In some cases, such as with a child with special needs or health or behavioural problems we will visit you at home to spend time with your child in their home environment. For others we may suggest a series of regular sessions to work through the issues
Can you help with family struggles not related to our child?
We also know that there is a significant causal effect of having a child with a special educational need (SEN) and family breakdown. Unfortunately only 1 in 10 families who contact us, unless they are a family with a baby or very young child, are not in some sort of family breakdown. Statistically over 1 in 4 families with a children with an SEN or disability permanently split up, with nearly 3 in 4 living in family break down. This is a statistic that we are desperate to change, through the provision of early intervention and prevention. However, for those families who are beyond this, our sister company, NETwork Interventions, are here to help. We offer individual, couples and family support and therapy. It may be that you could do with some support at home to implement recommendations. You may need something more along the lines of talking therapy or a practical plan of action.
How much will it cost?
Will you teach my child to engage in more socially acceptable behaviours?
Yes and No! We will work with your child to provide them with tools to learn in all environments of their lives and to help them to thrive. There will be some behaviours which will help them to do this which do sit well with social norms. There are others that perhaps don't but that, if we 'fixed' these we may actually cause more harm than good. What we don't want to do is to teach your child to 'mask' their struggles or anxieties simply to fit In. That will cause them a world of pain and whilst it may 'look' like it fixing an area for them, it will in fact be presenting more barriers to them thriving either now or in the future.
Our daughter Annie went to a school where tights were winter uniform and white cotton socks summer. She struggled every morning with getting ready and could not tell us why. She was the last to change after PE and swimming, despite being massively gifted in sports and being able to swim more competitively than most children 3 or 4 years above her year group. This resulted In her missing free time and sports. Her 'behaviour challenges' started to spread across every day, and then the night before, school days with sports in them. We were asked to implement a token system and 'reinforcement and Consequence system'. On the tin that seems perfectly acceptable as the aim is to shape behaviour to help the child. It actually started to do is to make our child appear as though she was fine with tights and school socks. What it actually started to do was to make her think about her body in a negative way all day, every day. She was constanly pre occupied by her footwear. Once she had been removed from school, taught at home for a while and equipped with much more language to label her internal emotions she told us that she 'felt the tights scratching deep in to (her) soul'. And yes, we had tried every type of sock and tight! We work with all of their children to remove their barriers to learning and thriving. In some cases that is actual learning but in others it can be the literal removal of something in the environment such as clothing (or a person!!). As a person-centred school we take all of your child's needs as well as their strengths and their own preferences in to account.
Will you teach my child not to stim? (engage in self stimulatory behaviour)
No, we will not. From the feedback of adults we work with who have autism spectrum conditions and other communication and learning conditions, we know that stimming is hugely important. Our children who are able to articulate well also tell us this. The truth is that we ALL stim. We may say things to ourselves in our head, tap our foot on the floor or tap our leg with our hand. We may twiddle with our hair or engage in other movement that either helps us to focus or regulate. If your child engages in a self stimulatory behaviour which hurts them or others, then yes we will work with them to replace this and to learn effective strategies. If your child engages in a self stimulatory behaviour which is wildly inappropriate to those around them and causes harm in that way, then yes we will work with them and you. The most important thing here is to work together, with your child, fully understanding their needs.
Do you have personal experience with your children?
In 2018 Louise began to teach her little girl out of her home and the Centre on a full time basis, using her incredible team. She also attended a specialist Flexi school twice a week. Over time more children joined her daughter's teaching which led to space challenges! Her little girl also faced problems with the specialist service she was accessing in 2019, along with her son who began to be home schooled at the beginning of the year. All of the these factors, combined with some the barriers of providing specialist interventions on site in some schools led to the creation of a brilliant solution: The Bridge Flexi School. Our lovely school has been created as a small, nurturing environment where our students can 'learn to learn' in a safe way, moving from individualised and specialised one to one teaching on to two to one, three to one and so on until they are able to learn in a larger group environment and thrive in the playground, if a more typical schooling is the goal for them. Others will be taught at our school simply with the goal of optimal learning, with no such goal of joining a more typical school environment. Your child's goals will be created by you, with our specialist team of educators.
I'm ashamed about my problem. Can I really discuss it with you?
Many people we meet feel an enormous sense of guilt and embarrassment about the issue they are struggling with. Sadder still, many of those we work with have never felt able to talk about what they are struggling with. Rest assured that you can discuss anything you like with us. In fact, chances are we have seen it before anyway. We also strive to provide a relaxed and informal environment for you to be able to talk your problems through with us, so that that you won't feel judged or condemned. You can also rest assured that whatever you discuss with us will be in the strictest confidence.
How long will it take to 'fix' me?
We get asked this question a lot!