Parbold Douglas Church of England Academy recently worked with One Education to ensure pupils with mental health needs received timely and effective support. This case study explores how our Art Psychotherapist worked closely with pupils, whilst also developing trauma-informed practice across the school community.
Setting the Scene
Parbold Douglas Church of England Academy is a primary school that serves the local community of Parbold and the surrounding area. As a Christian faith school, Parbold Douglas is committed to equipping children with the vision, passion and skills needed to transform society.
Recognising the importance of understanding the wellbeing of children and their families, the school employs many strategies to actively seek out this information and identify vulnerable learners. This allows them to provide one-on-one sessions between pupils and the Wellbeing Coach or the Pastoral Lead, ensuring that every child has the opportunity to talk openly with a trusted adult and receive the support they need.
However, the school found they had a number of pupils who were dealing with complex challenges, such as bereavement, post-adoption needs, and social difficulties in the aftermath of the pandemic. As Chris Lawson, Assistant Headteacher, DSL and Pastoral Lead, explains, ‘we recognise that, as a school, we don’t always have all the answers. So, we understand the importance of reaching out to external agencies and relying on their professional expertise.’
As part of the Creative Psychotherapy in Education (CPE) team, Emma Thackham worked with the school, delivering Art Therapy Support through one-to-one sessions with pupils. This allowed children to creatively express complex thoughts and emotions that they may have struggled to articulate verbally.
‘As an art psychotherapist, Emma’s expertise was invaluable,’ Chris says. Drawing on her professional expertise, Emma was able to build a therapeutic relationship with children, supporting them through the healing and recovery process. She provided them with a safe, secure environment in which they could work through their trauma, developing emotional regulation skills and self-awareness.
- Pupil Wellbeing: After engaging in one-to-one art therapy sessions, pupils gained confidence in being able to recognise their emotions, navigate relationships, and resolve conflicts, laying the foundations for positive mental health.
- Professional Dialogue: Emma’s presence in the school also provided the opportunity for professional dialogue, equipping staff with the knowledge and understanding to support pupils throughout the healing process.
- Strong Partnerships: Emma was able to act as a crucial link between school and home, creating a consistent and coordinated network of care that extended beyond the walls of the classroom.
‘Although a short-term intervention, the impact of Emma’s creative psychotherapy support has left a lasting legacy on our school.’
Staff are optimistic that their expanding knowledge and commitment to trauma-informed practices will continue to shape the lives of pupils for many years to come. Working closely with a qualified psychotherapist has enriched staff’s understanding of trauma, attachment and resilience, enabling them to deliver support that is both effective and enduring. Moreover, Emma’s support has helped to strengthen parent-teacher partnerships, creating more opportunities for meaningful conversations and collaboration.
As a result, staff feel empowered to support pupils across a wide spectrum of mental health and behavioural needs, creating a safe and supportive learning environment in which every child can flourish.
Parbold Douglas Church of England Academy highly recommends the Creative Psychotherapy in Education (CPE) service to other schools and academy trusts, especially during a time when so many are dealing with complex mental health concerns from pupils, parents and staff members.
Overall, the experience has encouraged Parbold Douglas to continue proactively seeking out professional expertise and support from external agencies, ultimately ensuring their pupils can benefit from access to the best possible care and resources.
If you would like to learn more about our Creative Psychotherapy in Education service, please get in touch.
Watch below to hear Chris Lawson explain the benefits of Art Therapy in his own words.