Wilderness walk and talk – troubled children

‘All behaviour is communication’: (whether confrontational or withdrawn)

First cohort from a Plymouth School (model 1 see below), ran during the Autumn term 2018. The 4 sessions will be spread over 8 weeks.*

Over many years of working with children from schools with high levels of deprivation I have frequently observed that some of the most troubled children will quite quickly calm and relax in a natural environment where they can explore and play. Adults know that walking itself can be very therapeutic and I frequently find that children will come alongside and with little prompting talk freely about their worries, concerns and, with encouragement, their aspirations. 

I aim to bring together the well-documented mental health benefits of engaging with nature, walking and talking with a sympathetic adult: Nothing forced and for some children several sessions would be of most value in order for trusting relationships to develop and become secure. (Attachment-based mentoring!)

I am working on two models at present but open to ideas and flexible approaches: (For example these could be monthly sessions spread over a couple of terms)

Model 1: Working with one or more members of your school staff we take small groups out of school to woodland, moorland or coast. The main benefits of this approach are that it would strengthen the relationships back in school with staff being able to relate the child back to positive experiences and challenges overcome. (My costs only) * Rather than 6 consecutive weeks the plan is to spread the sessions over a term or more. We are trying to avoid a cliff edge in the support and give time for relationships to build and growth to be sustained.

Model 2: Working with a qualified child counsellor  /psychologist we together give children these experiences and followup with clear feedback to appropriate school staff. This approach may be useful if relationships have broken down and children are at risk of exclusion, even so I would hope a member of staff would be able to join us for some of the time. (Using two external professionals clearly adds to the cost)

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