Our Therapeutic Approach

Forest Schools at Fen Rivers

What is Forest School? An Introduction.

Forest Schools are nature-based communities where trained practitioners nurture learner-led exploration and discovery, nurturing meaningful experiences for positive lifelong impacts.

Wellbeing is the foundation of our practice and through recognising the social, emotional and physical needs of participants we provide the guidance and facilitation for our time in nature.

Through creating learner inspired experiences based on exploration and discovery, we recognise opportunities to mentor holistic growth over the course of long-term programmes.

In developing the community, we nurture a culture based on collaboration and of embracing challenge so that we can allow, over time, for the blossoming of character, resilience and empathy, and for a greater sense of connection, with nature and for our shared future.

Rebound Therapy at Fen Rivers

Rebound Therapy is the phrase that describes a specific model of trampoline therapy: – exercise therapy which uses a full sized trampoline to provide opportunities for movement, therapeutic exercise and recreation.

Rebound Therapy, when correctly applied, describes a specific methodology, assessment and programme of use of trampolines to provide opportunities for enhanced movement patterns, therapeutic positioning, exercise and recreation for a wide range of children and young people.

Rebound Therapy is used to facilitate movement, promote balance, promote an increase or decrease in muscle tone, promote relaxation, promote sensory integration, improve fitness and exercise tolerance, and to improve communication skills.

Physiological Effects
  • Cardio – Respiratory
  • Muscle tone
  • Postural mechanism
  • Balance mechanism
  • Kinaesthetic awareness
Therapeutic Effects
  • Movement
  • Perception
  • Communication
Rebound Therapy can provide a huge number of potential benefits such as:
  • Self-confidence
  • Patience
  • Co-ordination
  • Independence
  • Reaction speed
  • Self-image
  • Freedom of movement
  • A sense of achievement
  • Stamina
  • Space awareness
  • Body awareness
  • Social awareness
  • Consideration of others
  • Trust
  • Confidence
  • Fun and enjoyment
Sensory Therapy at Fen Rivers

What is sensory therapy and how can it help?

Sensory Therapy specialises in teaching children how to adjust their level of arousal to get into the right zone to learn. Sensory therapy techniques may be beneficial for people experiencing feelings of anxiety. 

At The Fen Rivers Academy a sensory approach to teaching the national curriculum is part of our curriculum offer. The five senses are involved and we notice, wonder and imagine how what we are feeling manifests in our bodies. Sensory circuits are set up and provided daily for pupils that need them and every child has access to the sensory room. Motional is also used as a tool to evaluate and understand each child’s sensory needs and support planning for them. 

“In the realm of psychology, sensory therapy involves the use of visual and kinaesthetic components to treat mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, and emotional dysregulation,” Dr. Carla Marie Manly, a clinical psychologist based in California, told Healthline.

“On a neurobiological level, anxiety results from a triggering of the threat response,” she explained. “This activates the sympathetic nervous system, which floods the system with adrenaline and cortisol in order to prepare for the ‘threat.’”

“Sensory therapy offers very grounding, simple strategies that activate the calming sympathetic nervous system,” Manly added.

“Although medication can be a necessary treatment for some, sensory therapy offers a beneficial alternative approach that allows an individual to engage in personalized strategies that effectively alleviate the anxiety.”

Arts Psychotherapy and Counselling at Fen Rivers

What is Art Therapy?

Art therapy comes under the bracket of Creative Arts Therapies, this also includes drama, music and dance. Creative Arts Therapies is a term for healthcare professions that use the creative and expressive process of art making to improve and enhance the psychological and social well-being of individuals of all ages and health conditions. Creative arts therapies use the relationship between the client, therapist and group members in the context of the creative-expressive process as a vital force to witness growth and change alongside observing the dynamics between individuals within the space. The artwork created in the presence of the art therapist can provide a focus for discussion, helping the child reflect and make sense of behaviours and emotions they may feel confusing and hard to put into words. Clients accessing Art Therapy do not require any previous experience or artistic ability. The focus is on the art-making process and how the art materials are used within the space to work at expressing emotions and feelings, rather than a completed art work. Creating a space to explore both conscious and unconscious emotions by giving them a visual representation. This can work without verbal communication. Emotion and feelings can be explored through self-expression.

Art therapy is facilitated by an Art Therapist who has training enabling them to contain and manage the projection, transference and countertransference that has the potential to be shared within the space. The Art Therapist must undertake supervision in accordance with BAAT supervision guidelines and undertakes continuing professional development (CPD) as required by BAAT and the HCPC to ensure safe practice. 

Who does Art Therapy support?

Art therapy at The Fen Rivers Academy revolves around the welfare and emotional wellbeing around the students. From some assessments, it may be suitable for the child to have an accompanying member of staff or a dyadic piece of work between parent/career and child. In these cases, an assessment and conversation will be had and the best action for the child will be considered. Art Therapy can support family groups or class group in a group art therapy session. The majority of work will be 1:1 or 2:1 sessions with a child, child and staff. Art therapy may benefit children and young people who:

  • Are withdrawn and/or anxious
  • Severe communication difficulties
  • Poor self-esteem and/or self-awareness
  • Whose behaviour causing concern for staff and parents/careers
  • Experienced family difficulties and/or bereavement
  • Physical difficulties
  • Special educational needs such as ASD
  • Social Emotional Mental Health needs
  • Adopted or foster care
  • Have suffered abuse, bullying and/or trauma
Trauma and Mental Health Informed Practitioners at Fen Rivers

Four of our staff have undertaken the Level 5 Diploma in Trauma and Mental Health Informed Practice and have practitioner status. Practitioners work with all staff to cascade their training and share this in-house. Over time we aim for all staff to undertake this level of study and develop this expertise. 

Our vision is to provide appropriate training for all staff so they work in a trauma informed way and so the school is a mentally healthy place for all. This means we aim to help children and teenagers BEFORE they get mental health problems – to catch them as they are falling not after they have fallen. Towards this aim we strongly endorse the statement in the Government Green Paper December 2017 Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision, “ There is evidence that appropriately-trained and supported staff such as teachers, school nurses, counsellors, and teaching assistants can achieve results comparable to those achieved by trained therapists in delivering a number of interventions addressing mild to moderate mental health problems (such as anxiety, conduct disorder, substance use disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder).” We are appropriately training school staff to take on this task.

We are a school where the wellbeing of all is the highest priority. We implement many interventions to ensure the relational and emotional health of all. Our interventions are evidence based with the backing of over 1,000 research studies from psychology and neuroscience.

Mental Health First Aid at The Fen Rivers Academy

There is a team of Mental Health First Aiders and Youth Mental Health First Aiders at the school, all trained by Mental Health First Aid England. 

Our mental health first aiders have:        

  • An in-depth understanding of mental health and the factors that can affect wellbeing

  • Practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues

  • Confidence to step in, reassure and support a person in distress

  • Enhanced interpersonal skills such as non-judgemental listening

  • Knowledge to help someone recover their health by guiding them to further support – whether that’s self-help resources, through their employer, the NHS, or a mix

Drawing and Talking Therapy at Fen Rivers

A brief introduction to Drawing and Talking as a ten week intervention

Drawing and Talking Therapy Training is designed for anyone who may be suffering from trauma or poor mental health. Drawing and Talking allows children to discover and communicate emotions through a non-directed technique, drawing. 

Working with the child or young person’s inner world needs to be carried out safely and non-intrusively, with respect for the child or young person’s own pace and state of being. This is why anyone using Drawing and Talking learns to stay in the world of the child or young person’s drawing. The child or young person sets the pace and decides what to bring to the session.

Staff who have trained to deliver this therapeutic intervention understand basic neurobiological theory relating to trauma; the value of creating a safe and containing space; the importance of endings and losses and the relevance of attachment.