When writing the text for What are you staring at?, a graphic novel about restorative justice in a school setting, I couldn’t resist taking a side-swipe at the antiquated system of school detentions, as a repost to the endlessly repeated rhetoric calling for ‘discipline’ to be brought back into the nation’s schools. By pointing out that more often than not, slapping a detention on a young person for wrong-doing is actively counterproductive, I hope to illustrate how ineffective a punitive system is for resolving behavioural issues or engendering self-discipline within a school community. In one of Joseph Wilkins’ most evocative images, our protagonist, Jake, is seen sitting alone in a large classroom. He is serving a detention for punching Ryan, a pupil in the year below, and we see him simmering with anger and resentment at the injustice of it all. At this point in the book, no one has taken the trouble to tease out the story behind his violent behaviour, and because the punishment hurts (as it is designed to) he is minded to take revenge on the very person he harmed in the first place – namely the innocent Ryan – for being the ongoing cause of his pain. Precious little scope there for reflection, understanding, resolution or healing. Continue reading
Betsy de Thierry, author of The Simple Guide to Child Trauma, discusses the pressures on children and young people and how societal influences are causing an increase in anxiety and depression.
Some recent data has become available which gives evidence to our experience in the services we are running in the UK.
• 235,000 young people in England were in contact with NHS mental health services at the end of June 2016
• Almost a quarter of a million children and young people are receiving help from NHS mental health services for problems such as anxiety, depression and eating disorders
• 235,189 people aged 18 and under get specialist care, according to data covering 60% of mental health trusts in England (11,849 boys and girls aged five and under among those getting help)
(The Guardian. 3rd October 2016)
• NHS study finds:
o 12.6% of women aged 16-24 screen positive for PTSD
o 19.7% self-harm
o 28.2% have mental health condition
o Between 1993 and 2014 there was a 35% rise in adults reporting severe symptoms of common mental disorders.
(The Guardian. 26th October 2016)
Children have never been so stressed and lacking in healthy relational experience. The irony is that parents are hugely stressed too, often with the need to earn enough money to buy their children what they think they need to stop them being bullied (the right brands or electronics). How ironic and sad.
People with Asperger’s syndrome are at greater risk of becoming depressed for a number of reasons that leave them with a tendency to isolate themselves. In the opening chapter of Tony Attwood and Michelle Garnett’s new book Exploring Depression and Beating the Blues: A CBT Self-Help Guide to Understanding and Coping with Depression in Asperger’s Syndrome [ASD-Level 1] the authors explore these reasons and introduce their self-help programme for dealing with the issues that might lead someone with Asperger’s syndrome to experience feelings of depression.
Drawing on the latest thinking and research Attwood & Garnett use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy methods designed specifically for individuals with Asperger’s syndrome (ASD-level 1) to help increase self-awareness, identify personal triggers, and provide all the tools needed to combat depression and suicidal thought.
You can read the first chapter from Exploring Depression and Beating the Blues: A CBT Self-Help Guide to Understanding and Coping with Depression in Asperger’s Syndrome [ASD-Level 1] simply by clicking on the link below.
In this article, Bill Hansberry reflects upon his new book to discuss the importance of restorative justice as a constructive approach to conflict resolution in schools compared to traditional punitive methods. Suitable for education settings from preschool to school, A Practical Introduction to Restorative Practice in Schools explains what restorative justice is, how it can be used in schools, what it looks like in the classroom and how it can be implemented. It is an essential resource for any school or centre that is serious about reducing bad behaviour and developing safer learning communities.
Restorative Practices are not for the faint-hearted. They demand that our work in schools be less political and more human. This demands that, when things go wrong in schools, we empathise with students (and those who love them) and move into emotional spaces with them that we may not have occupied previously. Restorative practices are not a discipline from a distance. They are up close, personal and at times confronting, which is at odds with the direction that many schools are taking their disciplinary systems. As communities become increasingly disconnected and fearful of one another, responses to conflict, harm and wrongdoing that bring people and their difficult emotions face to face can seem too risky for many, yet schools who have bravely embraced restorative practices have found that this is a risk well worth taking. Continue reading
Clinical and counseling psychology have, in many ways, become rather superficial over the past several decades. With their emphases on manualized treatment, homework assignments and structured approaches, modern clinical practitioners have lost a good deal of what made their predecessors helpful to many people. And what they lost is a solid, comprehensive understanding of human behavior and what leads humans to change. There just is not much emphasis these days on understanding human behavior from a number of different vantage points when the focus these days is only on getting patients in, doing a certain number of very structured steps and then getting them on their way.
You don’t need to be a poet to write poetry, and you don’t need to write ‘good’ poetry to get a lot out of it. I’ve found that the very act of writing and reviewing poetry can be incredibly therapeutic regardless of what we might produce. Letting go of the idea that we need to be in some way talented with words to write poetry can open the door to a truly engaging, interesting and meaningful way to explore and express how we’re feeling.
In this blog post I’m exploring three key reasons why I’m an advocate of writing even the most terrible poetry – I hope it inspires you to give it a go (if so, you may find the fifty poetry writing prompts in my new book, Using Poetry to Promote Talking and Healing a good starting point). Continue reading
There are five poems in this extract from Pooky Knightsmith’s new book Using Poetry to Promote Talking and Healing. Each poem, written by Pooky, is the subject of a common mental health issue borne of her own experiences in the field of mental health. They address panic attacks, anxiety, depression and anorexia and are accompanied by supporting questions and activities to help open up difficult discussions. They are an ideal resource for therapeutic, classroom and family settings.
“Unlike so many stereotypes about poetry, this book is practical, unpretentious and heartfelt, with applications for helping people- young and old- way beyond mental health settings.” -Nick Luxmoore, school counsellor and author of Horny and Hormonal
In this article, Nicola Marshall, author of The Teacher’s Introduction to Attachment, reflects upon the role schools play in supporting children with attachment issues, and how they can improve their education experience.
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week at the moment with a focus on relationships, so I thought I’d use this theme as an opportunity to talk about children with attachment issues, and how schools can improve the level of emotional support they receive.
As an adoptive parent who runs a practice training teachers on attachment and why it matters, I have gained many years of insight into the highly pressured, results-driven environment that our education system increasingly imposes upon our schools today.
I’m very aware that for ‘typical’ children who have the love and support of at least one of their parents, school and the pressures of grades and exams can be overwhelming too. But for children with attachment difficulties, the expectancy to perform well in school only compounds the numerous emotional problems that they are already facing.
Nick Luxmoore reflects upon his new book Horny and Hormonal to discuss the significance of sex and sexuality in young people’s education, and how these often awkward subjects can begin to be broached by the adults who support them.
A Year 9 girl is posting naked pictures of herself on the Internet. A Year 10 boy thinks he might be the wrong gender. Younger boys in school are asking where they can get hold of condoms. An older girl is worrying that she might be pregnant. A boy is being bullied by a group of his peers saying he’s gay. Younger students are feeling the first stirrings of sexual desire while older students are beginning their first sexual relationships. All of them are wondering if they’re normal and most are watching porn to find out. Meanwhile, at home, there are parents starting affairs, parents moving in with new partners and sons and daughters trying to make sense of this. Some parents are saying that there should be better sex education in school while others are saying there should be no sex education at all….