The use of therapeutic story writing at Amber Lodge, a creative Tier 4 service for younger children.
“Therapeutic Story writing Groups use the metaphor in stories to support children whose emotional and behavioural difficulties are getting in the way of their learning.” Dr Trisha Waters.
The group is delivered by a professional from the education department at The Becton Centre.
It runs for 10 weeks with up to 3 pupils at a time, aged 7 to 11. The children are supported for 50 minutes each week by educational staff.
Therapeutic Story Groups explores:-
· The relationship between emotional and cognitive development.
· The emotional significance of story metaphor.
· Active listening in the context of story work.
A dedicated therapeutic room at The Becton Centre for Children and Young People. The children work consistently in their own personalised space.
Research by Hampshire Educational Psychology service showed that improvements were observed in:- motivation, attitudes to writing, length of time spent on writing tasks, quantity of writing produced, punctuation, sentence and vocabulary variety, imagination, social skills and independence.
(Gosport Project 2013)
Research commissioned by the South-east Region SEN partnership shows that Therapeutic Story writing Groups help pupils to process difficult feelings, develop social skills and improve pupils’ engagement with writing.
Communicating Emotions – Feelings Check In on the emotions ladder.
Child A (10 years old) had been excluded from mainstream school and placed in an inclusion unit where she had become increasingly disengaged with learning. In conjunction with the other therapeutic work at Amber Lodge, Story Group has helped to develop her ability to identify different feelings, place them in context, recognise potential triggers to her conflicting emotions and develop strategies to help regulate her behaviour. It has also helped to improve her confidence in independent writing tasks and has enriched her language and developed a pleasure for reading. This progress has transferred into the educational work at Amber Lodge where she will now write short narratives and non fiction writing, with opposition replaced by enthusiasm.
Each Story Writing session follows the same structure: -
1. Mindfulness exercise to aid relaxation and develop concentration
2. Feelings check in
3. Review of previous week’s stories / theme
4. Introduction of new story theme
5. Listening to a story
6. Setting the scene – sentence opener
7. Silent writing of stories
8. Sharing the stories and exploring the metaphors
9. Relaxing or fun closing activity.
The hope is to embed Story Group as a part of the therapeutic programme of care available at Amber Lodge. Also, to ensure continuous monitoring and evaluation of the impact on emotional literacy and literacy skills that can be transferred back to the children’s home and school environment.