Delighted to have received a couple more awards this year, including the Corporate LiveWire Innovation and Excellence Awards 2024, under the category of ‘Children’s Psychology Clinic of the Year’ and Acquisition International Business Awards 2024, under the category of ‘Most Influential Child Psychologist’ (South East England).

Delighted to have received a new award so early this year – this time for the Global Health and Pharma Social Care Awards 2024, under the category of ‘Best Bespoke Child Clinical Psychology Service’.

So, yesterday marked FIVE YEARS of Roots and Wings, and what an incredible five years it has been!

During this time, the service has received over 780 referrals for psychological assessment or treatment, and had the opportunity to support many children, young people, and their families with a broad range of emotional, behavioural, social, developmental, and cognitive needs. Our referrals continue to come from a broad range of sources, including local schools, GPs, Social Services, charities, solicitors, other psychologists, and private health insurers.  This year also, we took on the additional mantle of offering weekly psychological consultation to a residential children’s home and this week we received the incredible news that this home has now been upgraded to ‘outstanding’ by OFSTED, on account of how the staff now think about their children’s emotional and behavioural needs! – It has been a pleasure to work alongside this outstanding team.

Alongside this, we have provided one-off talks to secondary school pupils on a variety of topics, and we continue to offer clinical supervision to other therapists. Our sister company ( also continues to thrive in its aim of providing suitable therapy rooms for other clinicians in the local area.

We are now gearing up for our sixth year, and this already looks to be equally exciting! Alongside our regular assessment and therapy work in clinic, we have just started offering an intensive six-month training course to the managers and support staff of TWO local residential children’s homes on ‘Therapeutic Parenting’. This course brings together the most up-to-date psychological research and thinking about developmental trauma, attachment disruption and children’s brain development. It also aims to teach the staff practical ways of embedding this knowledge to start to offer reparative experiences for children whose earliest experiences of neglect and abuse now prevent them from trusting adults, or from being able to make use of the good care that is now available to them.

We are so looking forward to the next stage of our journey. Thank you to everyone who continues to support us on it.

I was delighted to be informed today, that a children’s home that I have been offering weekly psychological consultation for the past year, has just been upgraded to ‘outstanding’ by OFSTED on account of the way in which the service now thinks about and prioritises the children’s emotional and behavioural needs. It is an honour to work alongside such an exceptional team.

It was an absolute pleasure today to be invited to speak to 300 pupils at Brighton Girls School, about the impact of social media coverage of war and conflict on young people’s mental health. I was joined on stage today (and later for coffee!) by an expert in human trafficking, a Forensic Psychologist (and good friend of mine!) and the school Head. Really interesting and enjoyable morning! ☺️

6th November 2023

Don’t be Afraid of Anger!

I thought I’d quickly share this helpful 10-minute meditation for anger exercise.

Anger is a very natural and adaptive response to when our expectations of ourselves, others, or the world at large have not been met. It mobilises us to act and communicate our unmet needs. In children, anger can also be an attachment response following a rupture in an important relationship – a means of signifying distress and motivating the parent to do something to change or repair the situation.

Despite the many adaptive qualities of anger, however, on a wider cultural level, it is an emotion that is still often feared in Westernised society – even labelled as “negative” and liable to punishment. This can be hugely threatening, especially to children. This is because when a child is developing, their essential need for strong attachments can override their concurrent development need to develop a sense of authenticity. That is, a true understanding, appreciation and acceptance of all their internal states to help guide them as they grow (their “gut instinct”). Children in these situations can come to fear their own anger and repress it (bury it it beyond conscious awareness) as they develop. This is very important, as we know that repressed anger is a key predictor in a broad range of mental health difficulties as children grow – including resilience to trauma. We are also increasingly starting to recognise the link between repressed anger and cell inflammation, which may also be a precursor to a broad range or physiological conditions and vulnerability to serious illness in adulthood.

Anger is not an emotion to fear, but rather to embrace. It is a signal to us that something isn’t right. Not listening to our ‘guts’ could actually be harmful to us. It is also important for us to remember (and help children to learn), that experiencing anger in itself does not hurt anyone, as long as we can do this compassionately. Enjoy! ☺️

31st October 2023

The Questionable Helpfulness and Validity of Psychiatric ‘Labels’

I’m perhaps a little late in posting this, but last month I had the pleasure of attending an 11 HOUR event, with a range of expert speakers from across psychology, psychiatry, social work and the legal professions, all coming together to discuss the validity of psychiatric diagnoses as discrete concepts.

It was an excellent day, and drew on a lot of historical discomfort and current thinking in this area. This included the important role of trauma (particularly in early childhood) in underpinning vulnerability to future adult mental health difficulties, increasing evidence against genetic or ‘chemical imbalance’ theories of serious mental health difficulties (largely pushed by “Big Pharma”), and the importance of environmental and cultural factors in one’s capacity to overcome mental health difficulties. It’s a debate that I feel very strongly about and one that I have previously written academic papers myself on.

If you would be interested in reading more about this debate, some really good introductory texts I would recommend are:

1. The Power Threat Meaning Framework: An alternative to psychiatric diagnoses (Boyle and Johnstone)

2. The Myth of Normal: Trauma, illness and healing in a toxic culture (Mate and Mate)

3. A Straight Talking Introduction to Psychiatric Drugs: The truth about how they work and how to come off them (2nd Ed.; Moncrief)

9th October 2023

Clinical Psychology Service Of The Year! (Again!)

Well, it’s been a while since I posted anything, so it’s lovely to come back with another award! Delighted to announce that we have just been announced ‘Clinical Psychology Service of the Year’ by Corporate LiveWire Global Awards 2023-24.

17th July 2023

Child Therapy Clinic of The Year!

Delighted to have been announced as the WINNER of the South of England 2023/24 Prestige Business Awards – this time under the category of ‘Childrens Therapy Clinic of the Year’! This is the third time we have won the annual Prestige Awards, so I am especially chuffed!

4th July 2023

EMDR Skills Training

This weekend it was a pleasure to spend a whole supervised practice day with EMDR Sussex (a local special interest group), thinking about how to support clients who hold strong defences against recovery. It was lovely to connect with local clinicians and to share thoughts and clinical experiences.

19th June 2023

SHORTLISTED: Child Mental Health Specialists of the Year 2023/24

Delighted to have been shortlisted again for the Prestige South of England Child Mental Health Specialists of the Year 2023/24 – watch this space!

17th April 2023

WINNER: Most Supportive Clinical Psychology Businesswoman 2023!

Delighted to be announced the WINNER of Influential Businesswoman of the Year Awards (South East England) under the category of ‘Most Supportive Clinical Psychology Businesswoman’ by Acquisition International. This was awarded for my work in supporting colleagues to develop their own psychology / therapy practices.

15th February 2023

Invitation to become a BPS Associate Fellow!

Delighted to receive an email today inviting me to become an Associate Fellow of The British Psychological Society (AFBPsS)

27th January 2023

Afternoon Tea for Three!

In full spirit of my motto that we should bring therapy to children, rather than bring children to therapy, I was delighted this week to enjoy a homemade afternoon tea with a little one and their parent, which helped us to talk about more upsetting and troubling thoughts. (Obviously, we didn’t eat it all! 🙂 )

11th January 2023

Happy 4th Birthday to Roots and Wings!

So, this week marks FOUR YEARS of Roots and Wings Clinical Psychology Ltd! Wow! What a journey it has been.

During this time, we have continually evolved to ensure that we can best meet the needs of the children, young people, and families that we serve. This has ranged from our physically moving premises to beautiful Glynde, to continually developing and updating our professional skills.

We have also been able to expand the breadth of support that we are able to offer. Currently, we are pleased to offer short, medium, and long-term, evidence-based therapeutic support to children and young people, affected by a broad range of emotional, behavioural, and social difficulties. We also provide specialist therapeutic needs assessments and interventions for children affected by adoption and care services, weekly consultation sessions for a local children’s home, and regular input to two independent boarding schools. The broad scope of our current offer is undoubtedly strengthened by the positive working relationships that we enjoy with our professional partners. This includes with local and national charities, local authorities, local GPs, fellow mental health professionals, local schools, and private health insurers.

For the past year, we have also been delighted to be able to offer high-quality therapeutic spaces on a regular or ad hoc rental basis to other local mental health professionals, via an off-shoot company of Roots and Wings – Lewes Country Therapy Rooms (

Thank you so much to all of you – both personally and professionally – who have supported Roots and Wings over the past four years. It really is so appreciated!

5th January 2023

Adoption South East

I’m delighted to announce that we have been successful in our bid to become an approved provider for the new Adoption South East commissions. This means that we will continue to offer therapeutic needs assessments, therapeutic parenting support, and specialist interventions to children and families affected by adoption and care services, for the local authorities in South East England.

19th December 2022

An award to finish off the year…

A wonderful way to finish the year… a further award for the service. This one is the 7th Annual Global Health and Pharma Awards 2022/23, under the category of ‘Best Child Mental Health Service Practice’.

13th December 2022

Fly High Little Ones…!

That bittersweet moment when you finally say goodbye to a young person you have helped…

Whilst I know my job is ultimately not to be needed, I can spend weeks, months, or even years, personally invested in young people’s journeys towards mental health. That moment, therefore, when they are ready to stretch their wings independently, is one of such mixed emotion for me. – I am sad that I won’t see them again, delighted and excited for them, and incredibly proud of what they have achieved. It is both the best and the worst moment, but I absolutely love it. Fly high little ones!! (And keep in touch…! 🙂)

3rd November 2022

A New Nomination!

Delighted to have just been informed that Roots and Wings has just been nominated for the 7th Global Health and Pharma Social Care Awards. Watch this space…!

2nd November 2022

Treating Trauma in Children

People often ask me whether there is actually a difference between trauma, complex trauma, and developmental trauma in children, and further, whether they actually need different treatment approaches. This is obviously a HUGE question, but to briefly summarise…

Trauma is typically understood to be a one-off event that has made a child fearful for their life or physical integrity. This can in turn can leave their brain in a state of threat, which typically involves re-experiencing of the events (‘flashbacks’), hypervigilance to their environment, and periods of emotional numbing. We can understand this response as both an evolutionary survival mechanism (to remain alert to an environment that has threatened them), whilst they gradually allow their brain to re-integrate and process the distressing memory. For most children, this process completes within the first three months of a trauma, which we call ‘acute posttraumatic stress’. For other children, however, their symptoms may last longer, becoming more frequent, intense, and distressing. They can also frequently re-experience their trauma as though it was happening in the present. This happens when the trauma has overwhelmed their brain to such a degree, that the person can no longer naturally integrate the trauma memory within their autobiographical memory (the memory store that orientates events in time). This may be because they dissociated – as the upper parts of their brain would have been switched off for too long. This makes their (now fragmented) memory of their trauma very easily triggered by similar sensory stimuli or internal feelings. This is known as ‘posttraumatic stress disorder’ (PTSD) and requires targeted psychological intervention to resolve.

Assuming that a child’s trauma is a ‘one off’, however, (sometimes referred to as ‘simple trauma’), their treatment response would generally be predicted to be quite good. This is because the child would also hopefully be in receipt of lots of other healthy memories of the world as a relatively benign and safe place. These adaptive memory networks can then be drawn upon to process the trauma that has threatened their sense of safety. The same would also apply for children who have experienced multiple ‘one-off’ traumas, also known as ‘complex trauma’, as treatment gains can often be generalised.

Where the situation changes dramatically, however, is in the case of developmental trauma. This is when trauma is repeatedly inflicted upon a child in utero, or within their earliest weeks, months, or years by their own caregivers – thus creating an impossible bind for children who are relying on the same people who are harming them to keep them safe. These experiences have a profound effect upon a child’s physical, emotional, cognitive, and social development. Repeated abuse, neglect and/or attachment disruption in a child’s formative years hyper-sensitise a child’s developing brain to noticing threats within their relationships, as well as within their physical environments. This often leads to the development of damaging negative core beliefs that the world is a dangerous place, that others cannot be relied upon to keep them safe, and that they are not personally deserving of love or good care. This in turn can set off a cascade of further traumas for these children – including vicious cycles whereby they might inadvertently invite people around them to reject them, or to reinforce the negative perceptions that they hold about themselves. When ‘simple’ traumas sit on top of these shaky foundations, therefore, they become much more complex to treat owing to the lack of adaptive (healthy) memory networks in which to process the trauma and the ongoing traumas within their relationships.

As a Clinical Psychologist, this difference was perhaps most apparent to me when I was leading an NHS CAMHS service for children in care and was asked to treat unaccompanied child asylum seekers within this service. Whilst the latter had experienced unimaginable horror (e.g., war and homelessness), they did not always hold the same internal working models as children who had never had a secure attachment base and had experienced early developmental trauma from their caregivers. This meant that they often responded much more effectively to traditional trauma treatment protocols.

In conclusion, therefore, whilst these differences are poorly understood, they are actually extremely important in identifying the best course of support for young people who are struggling with trauma – whatever its cause. Please feel free to contact me for further resources on these topics, or advice on how to seek accredited NHS or private professional support.

21st September 2022

Proud New Sponsors

We are so delighted to be the proud new sponsors of the Lewes Lionesses Rugby team. We share this honour alongside the fabulous (Sussex-based purveyors of the most BEAUTIFUL houseplants, pots and accessories) and (Lewes-based building contractor). Wishing the girls a super successful season!

29th September 2022

Parents, Schools and Emotionally-Based School Avoidance

An interesting training this evening from the Anna Freud Centre on emotionally based school avoidance (EBSA). I felt it really captured the importance of schools working closely with parents/carers to engender trust, and a shared understanding of their child – including their beliefs about what THEY feel will help them. I felt it also gave a little nod to the importance of holding on to that ‘two-handed’ approach to EBSA. That is, the active promotion of a child’s emotional safety (and all that goes into this in terms of regulatory support etc.), whilst also holding hope for their re-integration pathway.

12th September 2022

The Seven Pillars of Wellbeing

I am eternally grateful to this village in helping me to find balance in a busy working day. Research teaches us that as human beings we need to find space in our day for SEVEN things to promote maximal brain integration (the optimal conditions for emotional regulation). These are…

1. Focus Time (time spent focused on goals and challenges)

2. Play Time (time spent being spontaneous, creative, and playful)

3. Connecting Time (time spent (ideally in person) with others, as well as the natural environment)

4. Physical Time (Time spent moving our whole bodies)

5. Time-In (Time spent focusing on our internal world – our thoughts, feelings, sensations, etc.).

6. Down Time (Time spent in non-focused activity, with no specific goal or agenda, allowing the mind to wander)

7. Sleep Time (the amount dependent on age)

Too little (or indeed, too much) of any one of these things can throw us out of kilter. If you or your child is struggling, therefore, taking the time to draw out a simple pie chart of how much of each of these things you feel that you and/or your child is getting, might just help you to spot some simple ways that you could make some big changes.

27th July 2022

TWO new awards for Roots and Wings!

Absolutely delighted to discover today that not only have we been announced as the 2022/23 winner of the South of England Prestige Awards under the category of ‘Child Psychology Specialists of the Year’, but we have ALSO been announced as the winners of the Global Health and Pharma 7th Annual Health and Pharmaceutical Awards under the category of ‘Most Outstanding Child Mental Health Service’! Definitely time to celebrate…!

27th July 2022

A humbling honour…

Posting with permission: Undoubtedly, one of the best parts of my jobs is when children and their families come back to see me months, and sometimes even years after we have finished working together, just to let me know how well they are getting on – I absolutely LOVE this! This week, I was delighted to meet up again with a young person and their parent, who just happens to also be a Sunday Times bestselling author. They wanted to share with me that they have decided to dedicate their latest book to me and my work! I’m feeling very humbled by this honour and now can’t wait to start reading the book on my holiday! …What a lovely way to finish the term! Happy summer everyone! 🙂

12th July 2022

The therapeutic analogy of WEEDS!!

WEEDS!! As a psychologist, my job isn’t just to think about what children/young people need, but also about what they WANT. For this purpose, I sometimes use the analogy of a garden…

However beautiful a garden might be, from time to time, weeds will appear in it. Generally speaking though, it is often enough to simply ‘maintain’ a garden, by taking time to pick out the weeds as they appear. We might think of these weeds as being a bit like the times that children feel anxious or sad, and the task of plucking out the weeds, as being a bit like skills that we can teach children (and their parents) to support their emotional regulation at these times. For some children, this really is enough. They only want the ability to learn how to maintain their garden. They aren’t interested in knowing what caused the weeds to seed there in the first place, or indeed, how to extract the roots to stop them growing back again, and that is ok.

For other children, however, those same weeds might have very strong, deep roots, which cause those weeds to grow out of control. They might destroy the other plants and flowers in the garden that the child actually wants to grow, which we might think of as the things in their life that they enjoy and value doing. Sadly, for some children, no matter how much time and effort they put into maintaining their garden (by doing things or avoiding things), the weeds always seem to be bigger and stronger than they are. These are also often the same children, for whom the very act of trying to ‘maintain’ their garden can actually start to make them unwell, and consequently, cause even more weeds to grow! For these children, we might think of the weeds in their garden as having very old, deep roots (generally caused by early traumas), which can influence how the fast and strong the weeds can grow today. For these children, we might suggest that learning how to safely dig up and examine these roots could be most helpful to them.

Of course, there are also many other children who aren’t even able to speak about the weeds growing in their garden, despite how much effort it is taking them to try and maintain them. This might be owing to their developmental age, or even because they feel ashamed about how unable they feel they are to control their gardens. For these children, my job is often to think about other ways to safely explore the gardens (the source of distress) of these children in non-verbal, gentle ways. This can include play or creative therapy, but it can also include teaching their parents the skills to gently visit their gardens with them outside of sessions.

Take home message: We all have times when we feel anxious or sad (‘weeds’ in our gardens), and that is ok. The degree to which we need to learn skills to manage these weeds, however, will depend on many different risk and protective factors. Deciding how and which ‘gardening’ skills we impart to children though, requires careful and sensitive understanding of these individual factors, in addition to consideration of what the child themselves feels they want, need and can cope with.

Happy weeding everyone! 🙂

19th May 2022

Our New Clinic Touchpoint Watches!

I was delighted to try out our new Touchpoint children’s watches this morning, and they certainly didn’t disappoint! These clever little non-invasive buzzers talk to each other at varying frequencies in order to enable subtle bi-lateral brain stimulation during EMDR processing – a treatment for anxiety, trauma and low mood. (The cool strap colour is just an added bonus! 🙂 )

5th February 2022

Proud New Sponsors of LRFC…

Whilst not the best mock-up photo, Roots and Wings Clinical Psychology Ltd are proud to be one of the new sponsors of Lewes Rugby and Football Club (LRFC) Women’s Club – the Lewes Lionesses! Sport can be such a valuable aspect of young people’s development, not just in terms of their physical development, but also in terms of their social, emotional and even cognitive development. We are very proud to support this team and look forward to cheering them on!

25th February 2022

Ukraine: Caring for Children in Crisis

With the appalling situation unfolding in the Ukraine right now, here are some resources that you might find helpful in supporting primary-aged children who may have been frightened by what they have seen on the news or on social media, or for those children who may be more directly affected by the crisis by having family links in the affected areas…


21st February 2022

Standing up for NHS Children’s Mental Health Services

So today I was pleased to be able to speak live on LBC about the resource and funding crisis currently embroiling statutory child and adolescent mental health services. My reason for engaging in this debate is because I believe passionately that accessing private mental healthcare should always feel like a genuine choice, rather than borne out of necessity. This feels even more important when thinking about children and young people.

16th February 2022

WINNER – Global Health and Pharma Awards 2022

Delighted to announce that Roots and Wings has just been announced the WINNER of the 2022 Global Health and Pharma Awards under the category of “Most dedicated Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service – South East England” Hurrah!

7th February 2022

ITV Meridian TV Interview

I’m very excited to have just completed my first TV interview with ITV Meridian – talking about how to understand and work with children who exhibit violent and aggressive behaviour towards their parents.

…I am now just hoping that my final edited contribution is as short as possible (!), but also manages to convey the vital messages that I wanted to get across about how best to connect with and support these children.

Expected broadcast date: 18th February 2022.

24th January 2022

Healthy Fiction for Young Girls

I have just had the pleasure of being interviewed by a children’s author who has been commissioned by the Arts Council – England, to write a psychologically-informed fiction book for young girls aged 8 – 12 years. This book aims to offer an insight into the many factors that impact on young girls today, including societal changes, academic and social pressures, the early sexualization of girls and the explosion of social media. I very much look forward to sharing the book with you once it is published!

14th January 2022

2022 Service Award Nominations

We are very excited to announce that Roots and Wings has been nominated for the Prestige Business Awards again this year (which we won last year under the category of ‘Clinical Psychology Service of the Year’) AND the Mental Health Awards 2022, hosted by Global Health and Pharma Magazine! Watch this space…!

10th January 2022

The Goldfish Boy

The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson – a really accessible children’s story about the plight of living with OCD.

6th January 2022

We are 3!

So we are delighted to mark the third birthday of Roots and Wings Clinical Psychology Ltd this week! And what a journey it has been, with over 400 referrals since we opened our doors!

This year we have purposely chosen a very plain looking cake to recognise that this year has been an exceptionally hard one for many families, for many different reasons, not least the pandemic. It felt somewhat disingenuous this year to chose a cake that was polished and perfectly iced to reflect the work that we do here in our clinic, when in reality it is often messy and hard and painful. Leaving the core of the cake exposed and not feeling the need to make it look ‘pretty’ and airbrushed felt more real somehow. And yet… even the plainest of cakes can be nourishing, ‘fruitful’, comforting, and more than ‘good enough’. If you are a parent who has struggled through this year, be proud of yourself. You got through it. You are more than good enough. Remember, children do NOT need perfect – they need parents who can get it right some of the time (a third of the time to be exact – which is also apt for our third birthday!) and who can repair with them when they don’t. The same goes for therapy. So here’s to our fourth year, when hopefully we can all take some comfort in being brave enough to be good enough! ❤️

5th January 2022

Help if you are worried about the safety or wellbeing of a young person…

First day back in the office today, and I’ve just completed a refresher of my mandatory CPD in Child Protection.

If you ever find yourself concerned about the wellbeing a child or young person, you can seek confidential support and advice from the NSPCC via this link: NSPCC Helpline | NSPCC

Remember – child protection is EVERYONE’S business!

16th December 2021

That’s a (Christmas) Wrap Guys!

Well, I’ve now locked my door for the last time this year. Thank you to all of the families and young people I have worked alongside this year for being such wonderful, brave and inspirational people to get to know. Thank you also to all of my friends, family and colleagues who have supported me to continue to build this business over the past few years. And last, but certainly not least… thank you to our lovely neighbours for making our little clinic garden look so magical this past couple of weeks! Wishing you all a safe and peaceful Christmas! See you in 2022!

9th December 2021

Do one thing every day that scares you…

Rarely a day goes by in my clinic where I am not asking a brave young person to do at least one thing that scares them. As human beings, we are biologically programmed to take ‘the path of least resistance’, or to do the thing that neutralizes our fears and anxiety – even if this is the same behaviour that ultimately makes us feel more fearful or stressed in the long run. An obvious example of this might be where a young person engages in repetitive or compulsive behaviours (e.g. to wash their hands or self-harm), in response to upsetting or intrusive thoughts. Overtime, their need to engage in these ‘neutralising’ behaviours is increased, as their fear is neurologically intensified.

A less obvious example, however, would be the tendency we have as humans to tolerate situations that are no longer good for us, because chronic exposure to them wears away our ability to “see the wood for the trees” or to hold on to a belief that we could even aim for something better or one that is more in line with our values. I found myself in this very position not too long ago. At this time, I was in a very challenging role, heading up an NHS service that, whilst extremely admirable in its objectives, I felt was well beyond the scope of the resources allocated to it. Very early on in this role, I feared that the support that my team could practically offer to the young people and professionals that needed our service, was a mere drop in the ocean compared to what we could realistically deliver. There just wasn’t enough of us to go around. This was a horrible feeling for me and one that I just couldn’t make my peace with. Despite being surrounded with wonderful and committed colleagues, including many who tried to convince me that what I was offering was enough, I was frequently left feeling powerless, hopeless and burnt out.

Just over three years ago, I decided enough was enough. I decided to set up my own company – Roots and Wings Clinical Psychology Ltd. – A company that I dreamt might enable me to offer the kind of support to children, young people and families that was truly in keeping with my own values about what constitutes good quality care and evidence-based practice. And it has not disappointed! It has been an absolute honour and privilege getting to know and supporting the families who have accessed my new practice. I feel genuinely proud of the work I do now and even sleep better at night! Two years ago this week, I finally handed in my NHS ID badges, laptops and phone, to focus solely on my new venture. Today I invite you to do the same… do one thing today that scares you… you never know how much it might benefit you or those around you!

8th December 2021

Our Glynde-Aversary!

This week Roots and Wings Clinical Psychology Ltd is celebrating a whole year of being in our very own little clinic in Glynde. This beautiful village has been the perfect backdrop to the work we do here – offering scope for both outdoor therapy for young people who can benefit from this, as well as opportunities for their parents to engage in that all important self-care, whilst we support their children. (We have even called upon some of our lovely neighbors’ animals to help us with treating dog phobias!) Thank you to this wonderful village for providing us with such a lovely place to work and be!

2nd December 2021

All feelings matter

I came across this post by Adoption UK recently of an edited children’s book, and thought it was a brilliant way of encapsulating the impact of subtle cultural messages that we regularly send our children.

Feelings – feelings are natural, important and shouldn’t be feared. Children need us to help them to learn that ALL feelings are acceptable and can be shared, expressed and understood.

In short, you can be brave AND cry!

21st October 2021

Working with Defences

Sometimes when we work with extreme trauma in childhood, we need to find imaginative ways of supporting children to process this in a way that doesn’t overwhelm them. One of the ways we can sometimes do this, is to ‘physicalise’ the important defences that the child uses to keep them safe. We might then gently ‘negotiate’ with these defences to allow us to talk to the child for just a few moments before they come back again to protect them. Here are two of the growing defence team that we hold here in our clinic – Ostrich (for children prone to dissociate or who struggle to connect with their trauma) and Chameleon (for children who become ‘invisible’, or who try hard to please or meet the needs of adults to keep them safe). It is extremely important to respect the crucial role that a child’s defences play in any kind of psychological work if we want to genuinely help them.

18th October 2021

Child-Focused EMDR Training

I was delighted today to receive a certificate for the fantastic EMDR training I attended a few weeks back with the inspirational expert Dr Ana Gomez. This training was specifically focused on adapting standard (adult) EMDR protocols for children, according to their developmental age and the degree and timing of early trauma. I’m very much looking forward to applying my new learning now in clinic, to ensure that all the young people I work with receive a bespoke service that is maximally effective and respectful of who they are as individuals.

13th October 2021

Lewes Country Therapy Rooms

So today I am delighted to introduce to you my other business… Lewes Country Therapy Rooms ( Borne out of recognition of the scarcity of good-quality therapeutic spaces in our local area, my other company aims to meet this need by providing beautiful, fit-for-purpose rooms, which are available to rent on a regular or ad hoc basis by other therapists. All of my rooms have been purposely designed by a Clinical Psychologist (me!), in order to provide everything that a practitioner could need to offer a highly professional assessment and therapeutic service to their clients – because we know they deserve the best! Please do feel free to get in touch to discuss your individual requirements or to arrange a visit 🙂

4th October 2021

Therapy Blankets

Here is a selection of some of the lovely ‘therapy blankets’ that we have in our clinic for children and young people who need them. They can be used for snuggling into, wrapping up toys, or even just hiding under to make speaking easier. Each one is allocated to a young person and the lovely lady who generously handmakes them for us has just been sent a new bespoke order!

24th September 2021

Roots and Wings are Planting Roots!

Very excited to announce tonight that Roots and Wings will be joining up with a number of other private clinical psychologists across the nation, to support re-forestation. From October 2021, for each new young person or family that we offer a service to, we will purchase a tree to be planted somewhere in the world. If the young person in question would like one, they can also have a certificate in honour of their tree. We will be doing this in conjunction with Tree Nation. If you or your company are interested in the work of Tree Nation, you can check out their website here:

11th August 2021

Sympathy v Empathy

A lovely little clip by Brene Brown, helping to explain the important difference between empathy and sympathy for you today. – This is such an important distinction to make when helping children in distress.

28th July 2021

Clinic Visitors! 🙂

Following on from “Gerald’s” visit on the 21st, I’ve since been joined by all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures this week! (Thinking I might need to invest in a better camera!)

22nd July 2021

A Secure Base

So I had a spare half an hour free last week, so thought I’d use the time to create a little video on secure attachment – what goes into them, why they are important and how they impact on a child’s developmental trajectory. Sadly, the file is a little too big for my website, but if you are interested, I have uploaded it to my Facebook page so you can view it there:

21st July 2021


The joy of working in the countryside… today I had an unexpected co-therapist join a session! Meet “Gerald The Grasshopper”! (Thankfully I had a very brave young person with me at the time, who helped me assist him back to the garden! 🙂 )

5th July 2021

More EMDR Skills Training

Very excited to have completed my Level 3 EMDR training last week with the wonderful Dr Sandi Richman! Particularly excited to have had the opportunity to fine-tune my skills for cognitive interweaving – special techniques for supporting people who have become stuck or ‘blocked’ when processing complex trauma, and helping them to start accessing more adaptive material.

1st July 2021

Blow it out like a whale!

A quick visualisation excercise that can help children who suffer with mild tension-headaches…

Firstly, invite the child to imagine that they are a whale swimming around in the ocean. Then, as they breathe out, encourage them to imagine that they are blowing all the tension out of the top of their head, a bit like how the whale might blow water out of it’s blow hole. This is such a simple technique, but is surprisingly effective!

Another thing you might try, is getting the child to follow your hand, as you (very slowly) move it up and down (vertically) 2 or 3 times in front of them.

30th June 2021

The Little Play Village

If you haven’t come across it before, I can’t recommend this Sussex-based business, The Little Play Village, highly enough.

This small family-run business, offers the opportunity for parents to hire themed play ‘kits’ for their children for up to 5 days at a time. The benefits of free play on a child’s emotional, social and neurological development are well known, and these benefits on a child’s confidence and self-esteem are further enhanced when a child can pair their play with the attuned attention of a trusted adult.

My reason for sharing this link especially though, is the huge potential that The Little Play Village’s themed kits offer to more anxious children. That is, children who might benefit from some more structured role play around visiting a dentist, a doctor or a hairdresser – allowing them to feel in control (e.g. by playing ‘the dentist’), and becoming gently exposed to the concepts and equipment. I would be happy to provide more information on how you might best achieve this if you would like to contact me, however, in the meantime, please pop along to their website to see how great it is for yourselves! (

18th June 2021

Alexithymia – the struggle to link your body to your feelings

Up to 1 in 10 children can struggle with a condition known as ‘alexithymia’. Despite its high prevalence rate, however, alexithymia remains something that very few people have heard of.

At its heart, alexithymia is a difficulty in distinguishing incoming sensory information, from one’s own internal bodily cues that are linked to their emotions (e.g. recognising their own racing heart rate as a cue that they are becoming anxious or excited). This can make it very hard for some children to accurately label their emotions, to recognise when they are becoming upset, or to regulate themselves (“put the breaks on”) before having a meltdown. What can make this even more confusing, however, is that children who struggle with alexithymia can sometimes describe ‘in theory’ what different emotions look like in the body, but still remain unable to spot them in real life.

At Roots and Wings, we are delighted to take receipt of our new fitness watches today, as yet another resource in supporting children in our clinic to learn to better recognise and regulate their own internal states.

15th June 2021

What matters to you?

Asking young people what they care about, what motivates them or even what’s important to them, can sometimes cause them to get a bit stuck. One young person recently offered me a quote though that they have found helpful, and which I thought was great, so I thought I would share it with you all…

“Pay attention, to what you pay attention to”

…so simple, but yet so helpful!

8th June 2021

Colour Counting…

Inspired by Phoebe Buffet herself… A really lovely way to help a child distract from upsetting or worrying thoughts, is to ask them to think of a colour, and then to invite them to spot where in the room they can see that colour and then to count how many times they can see it. This simple activity will interrupt the brain’s ability to continue to fixate on the upsetting thoughts, allowing the child to slightly diffuse from them. Follow this up with spotting two more colours (which one can they see most of?) and then completing a slow count down from 10 – 0 using deep breaths from the tummy, focusing more on breathing out than breathing in.

29th April 2021


Delighted to announce that Roots and Wings Clinical Psychology Ltd has just been announced the WINNER of The Prestige 2020/21 London and South East Business Awards under the category of Clinical Psychology Service of the Year! …Now what to wear for the awards ceremony in July…? 🙂

9th April 2021

Tips for Managing Separation Anxiety

As a Clinical Psychologist, I am always learning, not least from the families whom I have the honour of working alongside. Last week, the parent of a young person gave me permission to share a lovely technique that they have found to support their child to settle at night… the creation of a soothing meditation tape for the child, recorded by the parent, using their own voice.

Children who struggle being apart from their parents can often struggle more at night, as it is a time of natural separation. Fear of separation from a caregiver can be understood as emanating from a very primitive part of a child’s brain, which fears the threat of being alone and vulnerable. There can be an irrational fear that they might be forgotten if they are not with their parent. At its core, therefore, separation anxiety is a very natural attachment response, which promotes a set of behaviours designed to elicit a parent’s attention in order to ensure their very survival. What it isn’t, is a child being purposely difficult, however, when a parent is exhausted and being called upstairs for the 18th time, it is completely understandable why it is hard to maintain compassion for this position!

The parent above has found a winning technique that works for their child at night and which other parents may benefit from. Other things that you as a parent might try to support your child struggling with separation anxiety though, includes telling your child that you will check on them at specific times, and ensuring that you stick rigidly to this, in order to build up your child’s trust. You might also try greeting them (i.e. ‘noticing them’) before they have the opportunity to greet you. Equally, leaving little notes in their lunchbox, or finding little ways of showing them you are thinking about them during the day when you are apart can be helpful (e.g. “I bought this for dinner, as I saw it in the supermarket and I know it’s your favourite”).

It can also be helpful to use the metaphor of helping your child to ‘cross a bridge’ between the time of separating from you (i.e. going to sleep or going to school) and the time that you will be reunited (i.e. waking up or coming home). This might include telling your child something that you are looking forward to doing with them when you are next together (e.g. “I was thinking we might have pain au chocolat for breakfast tomorrrow” or “I was thinking we could pop to the shop on the way home from school later”). This can help your child to take comfort from the fact that you have an explicit vision in your head of when you will next be together and what you might do together. This can be helpful because for children with anxiety, the prospect of a night’s sleep, or a full day at school, can irrationally feel like an eternity with no end in sight.

A fear of separation is very common in young children and it can develop for a great many reasons. It can also increase if left unchecked for a long time. For this reason, it is very important that parents feel empowered to ask for professional help if their child is struggling with this issue – especially when more generic strategies, such as those listed above, have not been effective.

8th April 2021

When Children ‘Flip Their Lids’…

Having had the privilege to be invited to review my children’s school’s PHSE program on emotional resilience this week, I thought I would share this timeless clip again from Dr Dan Siegal – explaining what happens to a child’s brain when they become overwhelmed.

7th April 2021

A Metaphor for Therapy?

I really enjoyed painting this peaceful ‘Rainbow Tree’ today, courtesy of tuition from the wonderful Since completing it though, I keep spotting lots of lovely (and perhaps a little cliché!) metaphors for therapy…”Spotting the perfect in the imperfect”… “what you might see if you dare to look up”… “how the most beautiful things can grow from the most humble beginnings”…. “the power of nurture”… “the beauty of difference”…Can you spot any? Please do let me know if you can! 🙂

31st March 2021

A Gift of Spring!

I was absolutely delighted to receive this little ‘gift of Spring’ from a little one in clinic this week. It cheers me up no end when I glance over at it! Gift-giving plays such an important role in our culture, and is one of the ways in which we tend to express our love and gratitude for each other. Receiving this little pot made me think about all the other little gifts that parents of little ones often receive – stones, sticks, shells, old bits of rubbish they’ve found… they might not be worth a lot in monetary terms, and may even be a bit of pain to get in the car (or make us wince at the dirt!) – but our children are nonetheless giving us what they have within their power to give us, and it is so important to them that they see how much we value these things too. Happy Easter everyone! – I hope you can enjoy some gifts of half-chewed-up chocolate treats this weekend! 😉

23rd March 2021

A Little Self-Care for Parents

One of the most wonderful things about our new clinic, has to be the breathtaking countryside that surrounds it… from woodland walks to the open South Downs, we are truly blessed down here in Glynde! On a personal level, I’ve really enjoyed popping out on my little lunchtime strolls over the past few months, spotting the wildlife and watching the frosty landscape become a sea of spring flowers. I’ve also valued the countless ‘therapy walks’ I’ve already had with children and young people (even enjoying a picnic on the Downs last week!) Undoubtedly though, the thing that gives me the most joy about this gorgeous setting, is watching the parents of some of the children in my clinic starting to use their child’s therapy hour to stroll off into the countryside with their dogs, water bottles and headphones for that oh so important “me time”. Self care is essential as a parent – and particularly so if you’re a parent of a child who is struggling. I’m just delighted that our little clinic can facilitate this so easily!

02 March 2021

Support for the Urge to Self-Harm

CALM HARM: For young people who struggle with self-harm, this app has been very well received. With the option to password protect personal preferences, this easy-to-use app provides immediate resources under the categories of ‘distraction’, ‘comfort’, ‘express yourself’, ‘breathe’, ‘release’ and ‘random’. This private library of support can be so helpful at the point that young people are ‘riding the wave’ of the overwhelming urge to self-harm when they can’t otherwise ask for help.

24th February 2021

A Quote for the Hard Times…

As we continue to struggle through the final two weeks of home-schooling, I thought I’d share with you a quote that I have always found helpful when working with young people and their families…

When children are behaving their most unlovable, they are most in need of love” (Anon)

23rd February 2021

Peace and Calm

Our clinic is turning into such a calm and peaceful place to work. I can’t wait to welcome more children, young people and families here next month! 🙂

19th February 2021

The Importance of Parental Self-Care

I couldn’t not share this beautiful description of parenthood by Carly Crew. Sometimes a huge part of my role is simply about supporting parents to develop their capacity for self-compassion and to recognise their own need for self care. Too often, self-care is dismissed as an indulgent luxury and pushed to the bottom of a parent’s ‘to do’ list. I find this is never more true than when parents are trying to care for a child who is struggling emotionally or behaviourally and parental life can feel hard, unenjoyable and overwhelming. The truth is though, that to be able to break these vicious cycles and to truly help a child at these times, we need to have enough free space within us to be able to fully attune to our child’s internal world. We also need to be able to find the capacity within us to (non-defensively) help them to regulate through big emotions. These are big asks when a parent is stressed. Indeed, they are near-on impossible when we are feeling attacked, helpless or edging towards melt-down ourselves. Self-care and time away from our children can help at these times. As the airlines would say “put your own oxygen mask on before trying to help someone else, because if you’re dead, you’re no help to anyone!” Self-care as a parent, especially when times are hard, is an absolute necessity, not a luxury. Feel empowered to prioritise it and don’t apologise for it. ❤️

Carly Crew (21.11.20) 𝗜 𝘄𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗮 𝘄𝗮𝗹𝗸 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘀𝗻𝗼𝘄 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗱𝗮𝘆, 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗯𝗲𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗱 𝗺𝗲 𝗜 𝗽𝘂𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗱 𝗮 𝘀𝗹𝗲𝗱. My children were insistent they could walk, that they didn’t need the sled, however I pulled it anyway. And initially, they had boundless energy. They ran through the snow, laughed and chased each other and their laughter was musical. And even though they didn’t seem to need it, I still pulled the sled. It felt light and it wasn’t that hard to pull. After we walked a bit longer, one of my girls tripped and fell. She didn’t hurt herself, but she was upset. She climbed in the sled for a minute and I kept pulling. But she didn’t need it for long, and she hopped back out. I was happy I’d brought the sled to help her when she needed a break. By the later part of our walk, they grew tired. With the fatigue came the emotions and the meltdowns began. Do you want to climb in the sled? I asked. They both did. And I pulled them. And sometimes we went downhill and it felt easy. And sometimes we went up hills and it was heavy and hard, and I was sweating and feeling tired. And when I was sweating and feeling tired, almost resentful about the weight of them, I would stop, pause and breathe. And sometimes they climbed out, feeling that they didn’t need the sled again, and would walk a little bit more, explore a bit further. But they always returned to the sled. And I always kept pulling it. 𝙏𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙞𝙨 𝙬𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙢𝙤𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙝𝙤𝙤𝙙 𝙞𝙨. We keep pulling the sled of support. Even when they don’t need it, we are there to help them keep going. When they do need it, we pull them through. There are some days it feels light and all downhill, and pulling them, supporting them feels easy. There are days it is all uphill and pulling them is so hard, and so exhausting. When we’re tired from their weight and from our own fatigue, we pull them. So Mama, if your sled feels heavy today, pause and breathe. You are working hard. This job isn’t easy. There will be days when they won’t need you to pull them, and it will get easier. 𝙔𝙤𝙪 𝙟𝙪𝙨𝙩 𝙝𝙖𝙫𝙚 𝙩𝙤 𝙠𝙚𝙚𝙥 𝙥𝙪𝙡𝙡𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙨𝙡𝙚𝙙. ❤️

9th February 2021

A Moment of Tranquility

Taking the time to enjoy a quiet moment before starting the day this morning. Snowfall and garden birds – what could be more special?! I’ve often felt that snow seems to bring out the very best in us – be it our capacity for fun and excitement, or for peace and quiet reflection. I hope that you can find your own personal joy in the snowfall this February.

11th January 2021

It’s our 2nd Birthday!!

So today marks the second birthday of Roots and Wings Clinical Psychology, Ltd. And what a journey it has been! Having received over 300 referrals since opening in January 2019, it has been an absolute pleasure and honour to support so many children, young people and their families towards achieving better mental health. I learn so much from each young person that I work alongside, and am always quietly humbled by their bravery and resilience – often a long time before they even recognise this for themselves. My role in helping children and families at such an early stage in their lives might not always be easy, but it is always an absolute privilege.

The colours of our second birthday cake also mirror our new clinic colour scheme – rainbow, as a beautiful symbol of hope and aspiration following a stormier time.

14th December 2020

Our New Home!!

We are delighted to announce that Roots and Wings Clinical Psychology now has it’s very own home! We have moved into a lovely little building on the site of an old village Dairy in the beautiful village of Glynde, near Lewes. We very much look forward to welcoming families here in the New Year.

23rd October 2020

The Best Bits…!

When former clients get in touch with you out of the blue to give you little updates about how well they are doing… it means the world to me, and has happened twice this week!

6th September 2020

Inside Out!

Loving these little clips from Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’ this week… playfully helping little ones (and adults!) understand their internal world a little better. Here’s a great one on disgust and anger!

2nd September 2020

Therapy up high!

So today I had the unusual, yet marvelous experience of conducting EMDR therapy from mid-way up (probably) the best climbing tree in Sussex!

28th July 2020

The Importance of Roots and Wings

This beautiful greeting card was recently gifted to me by one of my closest friends. I absolutely love it and plan to frame it! ❤️ The name of my service (Roots and Wings) is a reflection of my belief that at their core, children need to feel safe, unconditionally loved and emotionally secure in their attachment relationships (their ‘roots’). If this can be successfully achieved, I find that children become ‘freed up’ to explore the world in healthy ways, to learn about themselves and others and to achieve their full potential (their ‘wings’). Please visit my RAW Values page to read about how these values further inspired the development of my service logo.

23rd July 2020

The Post High-Stress Slump

Just a simple little graphic for you this week, as I’m on leave… but this felt apt! Sometimes it is in the aftermath of a stressful event or period of our lives that we can feel the most depleted. This has been a particularly challenging few months for many families. Be kind to yourselves ❤️

14th July 2020

Surfing the Wave: Helping Children Calm

Quite a few people this week have asked me about tips for supporting children at times of high emotional stress (e.g. anger, rage or anxiety). For this reason, I thought I would share with you some generic pointers for parents that I use in clinic, but which could apply to most children. These are predominantly drawn from the principles of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) and Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP), which you may have heard of.

1. When a child is calm, help them to understand that emotions (of any kind) are a bit like waves… they rise, they peak and they fall. They come and they go, but they DO eventually end.

2. When a child (or their parent) notices that they are starting to become distressed (or to ‘fall out of their window of optimum arousal’), they can be supported to try the TIPP approach:

Helping a child to change their body temperature (e.g. by splashing the face with cold water or eating or drinking something cold) can help them calm, as the body naturally gets hotter when distressed or aroused.

Engaging in intense exercise to match the level of emotional arousal (e.g. star jumps or running) provides a healthy outlet for anxious tension. – Ideally this should be a rhythmic exercise as it is more likely to activate a child’s earliest neural pathways of feeling soothed from when they were rocked as babies.

Slow breathing, concentrating on their breath and (importantly) breathing out for longer than they breathe in, helps children to regulate the bodies. This is because longer exhalation naturally slows their heart rate and activates the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), which in turn helps the body to calm.

Supporting a child to tense and then relax parts of their body, supports muscles to release tension. Relaxed muscles require less oxygen, so heart rate and breathing naturally start to slow down.

3. Having a calm box – Supporting a child to develop a pre-prepared box of all their favourite textures, smells, photos, games, sensory toys, etc., can be a lovely way to start to talk about emotions with a child and help them to feel a sense of self-efficacy in managing their own emotions. As time goes on, a child might start to ask for their box before becoming overly distressed.

4. Parental matching of the affect – When a child’s brain is distressed, it regresses to a much earlier developmental form of itself, whereby it does not register language or logic in the same ways. For this reason, a parent needs to ‘match’ the emotional intensity of the child in their non-verbal behaviours (e.g. when a child is shouting: using a loud (but not angry) voice, using BIG physical gestures, maintaining intense eye contact, etc.). The very act of ‘mirroring’ a child to themselves helps them to feel held and contained. The parent can then gradually lower their voice and soften their gestures, which the child will match in turn. I think of this as ’emotional hand holding’.

5. Having a cuddle – Following an emotional outburst, close physical connection instigated by a safe adult, is one of the most soothing and regulatory activities to do with a child to bring them back into a state of optimum arousal. It also enables them to learn that no matter what they have done or said, they are still loved, which is so important for developing a secure and healthy attachment. Once they are physically and emotionally calm, you might then want to talk about the actual behaviour if this needs to be addressed, however, the key is…’Connection before Correction!’!

I hope that you find some of these tools helpful. It is of course important to note, however, that what causes (and maintains) emotional distress in children can vary hugely from child to child. It is also important to note that for some children, what causes and maintains their distress can be very hard to determine. In such cases, parents should feel empowered to seek professional advice regarding a targeted assessment of their children’s specific needs.

Happy surfing everyone…!

(A blog I wrote for Brighton and Hove Psychotherapy)

8th July 2020

More Tools for the Toolkit…!

More inspiring training with the amazing Dr Sandi Richman this week… this time via Zoom! I’m really looking forward to putting these new skills into practice to support children and families.

1st July 2020

Finding Safe Spaces Outside…

Like with anything, where online sessions can work brilliantly for some children, they are not right for all. At a time when indoor sessions are difficult, therefore, I was delighted to be invited to join a young person at their outdoor ‘safe place’ today, where we were able to talk and walk whilst exploring the nearby woods and paddocks 🙂

9th June 2020

Support For All…

Delighted to say that Roots and Wings Clinical Psychology Ltd. are now in a position to offer some pro bono professional support to low-income families. Free support will be offered to one family on our caseload at any given time and a short waiting list is in operation. Please contact us for more information.

1st June 2020

“Lucky” our new Therapy Chick!

Whilst perhaps not your most obvious therapy-assist pet, here at Roots and Wings, we are delighted to introduce “Lucky”, our therapy chick! Families in our clinic have loved receiving little updates on Lucky’s progress during lockdown. She has also offered us the most gentle introductory footage for thinking about attachment theory and early brain development. We look forward to sharing this with you in due course!

6th May 2020

Tips for talking to young children about their behaviour

When talking to young children, most people know that ‘open’ as opposed to ‘closed’ questions are helpful. That is, questions that cannot easily be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” answer and invite the child to give more information. These questions typically start with “who..?”, “where…?”, “what…?” and “how…?”. What many people don’t realise, however, is that the most frequently used open-question starter – “why…?”, can be hugely counterproductive to conversations with young children.

This is because young children can easily experience the word “why” as threatening. A “why” question implies that the child should have (and the adult expects them to have) a level of insight about their behaviour that they genuinely might not have at this stage. For some children it can cause them to close down by becoming silent or simply saying “I don’t know”, which can feel infuriating to parents. Other children may feel the pressure to just give an answer – any answer – which might not even make sense (e.g. “I did it because my tummy was hurting”). This is because they just feel the pressure to say SOMETHING, which can also feel upsetting to parents. (Incidentally, when a child says that their tummy is hurting, that actually can be a sign of anxiety).

Much better, is to side-step the “why” question altogether with young children (e.g. “what made you do that?” or “when you did that, what did you think might happen?”) These kinds of questions keep the dialogue flowing and importantly, help the child to start to understand for themselves what their thoughts, feelings and motivations were when they used a particular behaviour.

This is an important foundation step towards impulse control and emotional regulation.

(A blog I wrote for Brighton and Hove Psychotherapy)

24th March 2020

Helping ourselves to feel in control at times when we are not in control…

In these changing and uncertain times, it’s understandable that we as parents are also struggling to contain our own anxieties. Please find above a helpful video from Dr Russ Harris (Clinical Psychologist and author of The Happiness Trap). It is based on principles from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). I hope you find it useful, but please feel free to contact me if you would like any of the principles explained in more detail.

13th March 2020

Explaining COVID-19 to young children…

At uncertain times like this, there’s a risk that we can inadvertently raise children’s anxiety levels to greater degrees than we intend to or than they can manage. Here’s a nice, child-friendly, explanation of what coronavirus is to support discussions with young children……

3rd February 2020

Stress and Different Parenting Styles

Since the early 1960s, psychologists have been interested in the relationship between parenting and the emotional, social and behavioural development of children. Of particular significance to this field of study, is the early work of psychologist Diana Baumrind and colleagues, who conducted the first longitudinal study of more than 100 preschoolers through to their adolescence, specifically examining the impact of their parents approaches towards them on their subsequent development (Baumrind & Black, 1967). This study, which used a combination of naturalist observations and parental interviews, identified four ‘dimensions’ of parenting – (a) disciplinary strategies, (b) warmth and nurturance, (c) communication and (d) expectations of maturity and control. More than this, however, this influential study identified three ‘parenting styles’ which have since stood up to considerable empirical scrutiny. 

The first of the parenting styles identified by Baumrind is now more commonly referred to ‘authoritarian parenting’. This an approach to parenting which is generically low in warmth but high in control. Parents who fall into this category, typically hold very high expectations for their children’s behaviour and develop strict, non-negotiable rules for which they must live by. They are described as “obedience and status-orientated and expect their orders to be obeyed without explanation” (Baumrind, 1991). Failure to abide by their rules, or to meet their behavioral expectations, is typically met with punishment rather than with empathy or understanding. This type of parenting is often seen in adults who they themselves were raised by parents with a similar style of parenting [see my earlier blog on ‘family scripts’] and who therefore hold an authoritarian working model or ‘blueprint’ of what it is to be a parent. This style can also sometimes be seen in anxious parents, who respond to a fear of losing control of their children by exerting total control. The implications for their children, however, is that they are often left feelin angry, confused or upset internally, but have no capacity to process or make sense of these emotional experiences as they develop. Their children are also often limited in their opportunities for free play and exploration of the world, which is equally important for healthy emotional and social development. 

The second parenting style identified by Baumrind is that of ‘permissive parenting’. This style can be broken down into two further parenting styles – ‘permissive-indulgent’ and ‘permissive-indifferent’. A ‘permissive-indulgent’ parent is broadly defined as a parent who is very high in warmth, but very low in control. In direct contrast to their authoritarian counterparts therefore, permissive-indulgent parents make very few demands on their children, rarely discipline them and typically seek to avoid confrontation. They are described as “generally nurturing and often take on the status of a friend more than that of a parent” (Baumrind, 1991). The implications for their children, however, is that whilst their internal worlds are largely attended to (although negative emotions can still be feared), they lack the developmentally appropriate structure, boundaries and expectations that they need in order to develop into healthy, socially-adept adults. ‘Permissive-indifferent’ parents on the other hand, present as very low in control AND in warmth. These parents offer neither structure and boundaries nor warmth and affection for their children. They are what we typically consider to be emotionally neglectful parents, who in extreme cases, may actively reject their children, leading to inevitable attachment difficulties as their child develops.  

The third parenting style initially identified by Baumrind’s study is known as an ‘authoritative’ parenting style. This style bridges the gap between authoritarian and permissive parenting styles and is known in research circles as the ‘gold standard’ for child development. This is because parents who are able to approach caring for their children with this style of parenting are able to establish developmentally appropriate rules and boundaries, but can at the same time, remain responsive to and curious about their children’s internal worlds. This means that they can be open to trying to understand a child’s internal world (e.g. their thoughts, feelings, motivations, perceptions, beliefs, etc.) even if they do not accept their behaviour. Indeed, when their children fail to meet their expectations, an authoritative parent is more likely to respond with forgiveness, nurture and find structured opportunities for new learning, rather than with punishment. Similarly, they can remain democratically open to questions and challenges from their children about their rules. They are defined as being able to “monitor and impart clear standards for their children’s conduct. They are assertive, but not intrusive and restrictive. Their disciplinary methods are supportive, rather than punitive. They want their children to be assertive as well as socially responsible, and self-regulated as well as cooperative” (Baumrind, 1991). The benefits for children raised with this type of parenting style is clearly evidenced in their later performance on a broad range of emotional, social and behavioural indices. These include social responsibility, the ability to cooperate with peers and adults, independence, assertiveness, problem solving and high self-esteem. Support for this ‘middle ground’ approach to parenting is also offered by recent research which has identified that children with a history of severe developmental trauma and attachment disruption, respond most effectively to an ‘authoritative ++’ approach to nurture whilst in care – a specific type of parenting approach which is very high in both control AND warmth and nurture – also known as the ‘two handed’ approach to parenting (Hughes, Golding & Hudson, 2019). 

As alluded to earlier, the type of parent we become will be influenced in part by our own experiences of being parented. Whilst we can adapt this to a degree, however, when we are under stress, it is likely that we will move closer towards our ‘blueprint’ of what a parent is. For this reason, it is extremely important that as parents, we take the time to notice for ourselves when we are starting to a more extreme type of parenting style (authoritarian or permissive) as an indicator or ‘red flag’ that we need to take some time out to recharge in order to be the parents that we want to be, and which our children need us to be. If you are co-parenting, it can also be helpful to think about where you and your partner each naturally fall on the continuum between high warmth and high control as parents, and to spend some time thinking about the strengths and weaknesses of these respective similarities or differences in your parenting styles, as well as the impact that the combination of your parenting styles has on your child. When challenges or parenting styles feel unhelpful or entrenched, however, it can be worth seeking professional help. 

References – 

Baumrind, D. (1991). The influence of parenting style on adolescent competence and substance use. Journal of Early Adolescence, 11(1), 56­95. 

Baumrind, D., & Black, A.E. (1967). Socialization practices associated with dimensions of competence in preschool boys and girls. Child Development, 38, 291­327.

Hughes, D., Golding, K. & Hudson, J. (2019). Healing Relational Trauma with Attachment-Focused Interventions: Dyadic developmental psychotherapy with children and families. Norton

(A blog I wrote for Brighton and Hove Psychotherapy)

31st January 2020

Happy 1st Birthday to Roots and Wings!!

Well, we almost missed it, but Roots and Wings Clinical Psychology turned one this month! And what an amazing adventure it has been! Having received over 150 referrals this year, we’ve had the privilege to work alongside a huge number of inspirational children, families and professionals, and we have loved learning from them all. Thank you to everyone who everyone who has been part of this journey. This is for you…! ? ⭐️

30th January 2020

Living with Dyslexia and Dyscalculia…

I couldn’t not share this inspirational vlog from my former colleague Dr Dr (yep, that’s two doctorates!) Esther Khiel. A Consultant Clinical Psychologist, sharing her day-to-day experiences of living with, and embracing, dyslexia and dyscalculia…

26th January 2020

Spring has Sprung!

Everywhere I look at the moment I see little signs of new life, new growth and new potential. You have to look hard for it sometimes, but for me, Spring is such a great metaphor for a sense of hope and optimism following a harsher, darker time.

24th January 2020

Exciting new tools for the therapeutic toolbox…

After three days EMDR tuition at the University of Leicester with the amazing Sandi Richman, I’m now feeling very excited about getting to practice all the new tools in my therapeutic toolbox!

22nd January 2020

Flags of ADHD

A helpful crib sheet for parents and teachers alike, in recognizing hidden indicators that a child may be struggling with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

6th January 2020

Psychology Through the Ages

It was fascinating to see one of the earliest kits used by psychologists in the 1930s to measure children’s intelligence at The Science Museum in London today. How far we have come (not an iPad in sight!), and yet some of this kit is strangely familiar to what we still use today!

2nd January 2020

Therapy ‘On The Run!’

Getting ready for a ‘running’ therapy session tomorrow… because sometimes even older teens need us to hold their hands as they make their first brave steps towards positive change.

7th October 2019

“Ghosts in the Nursery” – The Power of Family Scripts

As much as we might fight it, our own experiences of being parented, create within us blueprints or ‘internal working models’ of what it is to be a parent. These models only become fully activated when we become parents ourselves, and often take us by surprise. For instance, we may find ourselves ‘turning into’ our parents in ways we hadn’t intended. Similarly, memories from our past can be unexpectedly invoked in us when our own children reach the same age. 

Selma Fraiberg (1987) emotively referred to this phenomenon as “ghosts in the nursery” – the idea that without conscious effort to alter entrenched family patterns, family life can essentially become a ‘rehearsal’ for the next generation. More commonly, we refer to this phenomenon as the enactment of ‘family scripts’. John Byng-Hall (1985) proposed three ways in which these family scripts may manifest – 


These scripts are a direct replication of the parenting that we received ourselves. They can include replication of positive scripts (e.g. family rituals, ways of nurturing children, ways of enforcing boundaries, certain sayings, etc.). They can also include replicating negative (unresolved) scripts, which may be consciously replicated (e.g. “smacking never did me any harm”) or unconsciously replicated (e.g. needing to hide one’s sad or angry feelings from a parent can make it harder for these children to later recognise or respond to these feelings in their own children).


These family scripts are a conscious decision to offer our children a different experience of being parented to what we received ourselves. The danger for this type of script, however, is that because they are driven from an emotional response to our past, there is a risk that we will go too far the other way (e.g. feeling hard done by as an older child, so favouring our own eldest child).


These family scripts relate to the ability to flexibly and creatively amalgamate what we most value from our own experiences of being parented, with what we now value and learn from new relationships, education, culture, etc. We generally consider that the most resilient and healthy families adopt this form of script. 

Difficulties can arise when damaging or unhealthy replicative family scripts cannot be consciously thought about by parents. In extreme cases, these can negatively impact upon a parent’s relationship with their child and therefore, their child’s subsequent emotional well-being. For the most part, however, activation of family scripts is normal, inevitable, and actually helps children to become embedded within the familial and social context to which they belong. Indeed, almost all the parents that I meet in my work (myself included), offer a fascinating mix of all three of the above scripts to their children.


Byng-Hall, J. (1985). The family script: A useful bridge between theory and practice. Journal of Family Therapy, 7, 301-305

Fraiberg, S., Adelson, E. & Shapiro, V. (1980). Ghosts in the nursery: A psychoanalytic approach to the problem of impaired infant-mother relationships. Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 14, 3.

(A blog I wrote for Brighton and Hove Psychotherapy)

1st October 2019

Safe Companions…

Often children like someone safe to accompany them to therapy – but that safe someone doesn’t always need to be a person!

25th September 2019

Tea for Two…

Helping an older teen find their safe space in therapy

24th September 2019

BUPA Recognition

Delighted to add BUPA to the list of private health insurers that we hold professional recognition with

21st September 2019

Back to Nature

The beautiful Grange Gardens of Lewes. A lovely spot to visit with children who struggle to sit in a room, who prefer to walk and talk, or who just need some sensory grounding to feel ok.

11th September 2019

Expanding the Clinic Library…

Delighted to be expanding the clinic’s library of validated testing materials – in this case, an assessment of the strength of a child’s attachment relationships, which can be used as evidence in the family courts

8th September 2019

New Testing Equipment…

An exciting upgrade to the clinic’s testing materials for administering assessments of children’s cognitive and executive functioning skills.

6th September 2019

Shark Music

A nice little video that helps to illustrate how a parent’s ability to respond to their children’s emotional needs, is largely influenced by their own experiences of being parented.

5th September 2019

A Lovely Tweet!

A lovely endorsement for Roots and Wings CP from the staff at Roedean School in Brighton ( …now just wishing I knew how to operate Twitter to be able to thank them! ?

30th July 2019

Wise Words…

Children are not slates from which the past can be rubbed by a duster or sponge, but human beings who carry their previous experiences with them and whose behaviour in the present is profoundly affected by what has gone before” (Bowlby, 1951)

23rd July 2019

When Praise Becomes Harmful to Children…

Contrary to its intention, praise does not always make a child feel good. Whilst we might typically think of praise as a gift, it is technically an evaluative judgement on the other person (e.g. “you’re a good girl” or “you’re a brilliant artist”), which for some children can be experienced as threatening or even dysregulating (Stephen Porges Polyvagal Theory).

This risk is particularly pronounced in children whose earliest relationships have not enabled them to trust in the safety of relationships and/or have caused them to develop negative core beliefs about themselves as inherently bad or unlovable. For these children, being told that they are “good” or “fantastic” at something, is so far removed from their own sense of themselves that they cannot make use of it. More likely, they will be put on high alert for when the other person will no longer see them as “good” and will see their true self. It also creates inevitable comparison – and therefore, competition, with other children. For very traumatised children, therefore, ‘global praise’ (or generalised, non-specific praise), can actually act to undermine their trust in the safety of their relationship with the person giving it to them (Hughes, Golding & Hudson, 2019).

Whilst not all children have experienced developmental trauma, however, it is still true that global praise is not helpful to children. This is because it contains too little information about what the giver is enjoying about the child, or what they are doing well, for them to make use of it. Indeed, a natural tendency (for any of us!) when offered global praise, is to immediately deny it (e.g. “I don’t always have gorgeous hair! You didn’t see me yesterday!”), to assume that the giver is lying or does not know what they are talking about (“As if I always sound intelligent!”), to focus on our weaknesses (e.g. “Clever! You should see me doing my times tables!”), to make us anxious (e.g. “I’ll never be able to hit the ball again now you’ve said I’m a good shot!”) or to assume that we are being manipulated (e.g. “What’s she after?”; Faber & Mazlish, 2001).

A healthier alternative to global praise is ‘descriptive praise’. That is, the act of actively looking for specific things that you appreciate, value or enjoy about your child (e.g. “You two have just sat there colouring for 20 minutes with no squabbling”, or “You picked up all your toys, thank you!”) In offering descriptive praise, parents and professionals should attend as much, if not more so, to the effort that a child is making as their achievements (e.g. “I can see you are putting so much hard work into revising your spellings”). They should also ‘own’ their opinions (e.g. “I really like what you’ve drawn there. I like the stripes on your zebra. I think that’s a great drawing!” rather than “you’re a brilliant artist!”).

Unlike global praise, descriptive praise helps to build children’s self-esteem. This is because it supports children to start to recognise the positives in themselves. This happens because having someone else point out specific things that they like or value about them, in a way that they actually can hear and accept it, enables children to give themselves the praise they deserve (e.g. “Yeah, I did draw that chimney well”). Descriptive praise can also be a wonderful way of building enjoyment, joy, trust and security in attachment relationships, for instance, building in a period of descriptive praise for the child before they go to sleep each night. Further, descriptive praise can help to build a child’s resilience, as parents can support their child to start to recognise all their strengths in the face of adversity (e.g. “I know you’re sad that you didn’t make the football team, but I was so impressed with how you went and congratulated the other players. I thought that was really kind”).

For descriptive praise to be effective, however, it should always be within the context of GENUINE heartfelt appreciation and gratitude for the child or their behaviour, as our non-verbal communication is always stronger than our verbal.


Faber, A. & Mazlish, E. (2001). How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk. Piccadilly Press

Hughes, D., Golding, K. & Hudson, J. (2019). Healing Relational Trauma with Attachment-Focused Interventions: Dyadic developmental psychotherapy with children and families. W. W. Norton & Company.

Porges, S. (2019). Home of Dr. Stephen Porges.; Accessed: 2019.06.07

(A blog I wrote for Brighton and Hove Psychotherapy)

6th June 2019

Healthy Parent-Child Interaction

(Unapologetically looking for an excuse to post this adorable clip…!) Check out this lovely moment of a healthy infant interacting with their parent. Notice the mirrored body language, the mutual gaze, the interactive ‘dance’, the appropriate social overtures, etc. Just beautiful ? (Courtesy of Shanieke Pryor)…

3rd June 2019

Parental Blocked Care

The phenomenon of parental ‘blocked care’ is a term coined by eminent Clinical Psychologists Dan Hughes and Jonathon Baylin and Psychiatrist Dan Siegal. It represents a central feature of the Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP) approach to treating children and young people with a history of developmental trauma and attachment disruption.

Advancements in the areas of attachment, trauma and neurobiological development, teach us that children’s brains are shaped on a neurological level by their earliest caregiving experiences. Indeed, we now know that an infant’s brain is primed, even in utero, to adapt to the type of care that it anticipates receiving from its primary caregivers in order to maximise its chances of survival. What is perhaps less known however, is that parents’ brains are also neurologically influenced by their experience of caring for their child. When things are going well, five main areas or ‘care systems’ in the parental brain are optimally functioning. These are:

  1. The Approach System: The system that enables us to fall in love with our children, to crave to be with them and to become completely absorbed in them. Not surprisingly, this system is associated with the release of oxytocin (the ‘love hormone’).
  2. The Reward System: The system that enables mutual delight and attunement when a parent interacts with their child. This system is associated with the release of dopamine (the ‘addictive hormone’).
  3. The Child Reading System: The system that enables parents to positively interpret our child’s behaviours and motivations and to remain interested in their unique qualities.
  4. The Meaning-Making System: The system that enables parents to think positively and meaningfully about their relationship with their child.
  5. The Executive System: The system that enables us to physically care for our children.

For some parent-child dyads however, things do not go so well. Some parents may face unmanageable levels of stress whilst caring for their infants, which may be exacerbated by their own poorly developed care and emotional-regulation systems. Others may be offering reparative foster parenting to children who, owing to previous experiences of abusive or neglectful parenting, now fear, mistrust and reject the care they are being offered, which can be extremely painful for their new carers to bear.

The real risk when things go wrong however, is that parents may enter (chronic or acute) periods of ‘blocked care’. When this happens, the first four systems listed above start to shut down. The parent no longer experiences joy or fulfilment of being with their child. They do not get the rushes of oxytocin and dopamine that other parents get, and they do not seek to be with their child. They also become much more likely to interpret their child’s behaviours and motivations with a negative bias (e.g. “he is manipulating me” or “she is a spiteful child”) as well as their relationship with the child (e.g. “I am a rubbish parent”).

A stressed-out parent is in survival mode. They are no longer able to remain open and engaged to the child’s emotional and developmental needs. Rather, they are liable to become extremely rigid, defensive and behaviorally-focused in their approach to parenting. Sadly, however, without support, the final care system, the executive system, may also start to shut down. This is the point when we start to see abusive or neglectful parenting emerge.

The growing evidence-base for blocked care, therefore, highlights the crucial need for psycho-education, as well as early and non-judgmental support to parents and carers who are most vulnerable to entering it.


Hughes, D. & Baylin, J. (2012). Brain-Based Parenting: The Neuroscience of caregiving for healthy attachment. Norton

Hughes, D. & Baylin, J. (2016). The Neurobiology of Attachment-Focused Therapy: Enhancing Connection & Trust in the Treatment of Children & Adolescents. Norton

Siegal, D. & Hartzell, M. (2003). Parenting from the Inside Out. Tarcher/Penguin

(A blog I wrote for Brighton and Hove Psychotherapy)

31st May 2019

The Importance of Attunement for Babies and Young Children – Dr Laura Tinkl

Babies are not born with the neurological capacity to understand distress, or even to differentiate between discomfort and mortal danger. To ensure their survival therefore, babies are biologically programmed to communicate all forms of distress to their primary caregivers through very primitive means (e.g. crying, screaming and reaching out).

Under ideal circumstances, these ‘signals’ from the baby will elicit a sensitive (‘attuned’) response from their caregiver, whereby their caregiver will utilise their more developed brain in order to empathise with the infant’s distress, to soothe them and overtime, to give them words to better understand and communicate their distress. Repetition of this pattern over time, coupled with a deepening joy of the relationship, is not only the foundation for a secure attachment relationship, but the building blocks for other important skills such as developing empathy and emotional regulation.

When working well, attunement enables a child to feel truly understood, accepted and ‘felt’ by their caregiver. Inevitably however, “getting it right” all the time is not possible and sometimes signals will be missed or responded to incorrectly (‘mis-attunement’) – also known as a ‘relationship rupture’. Ruptures are normal and actually present opportunities for a child-carer relationship if the carer is able to repair the relationship appropriately. Indeed, it is estimated that for a secure attachment to develop, carers need to attune correctly around one third of the time (Hoghughi & Speight, 1998), which is reassuring!

Over the years, researchers have examined the importance of attunement on an infant’s mental health. This includes Ed Tronick’s (2007), ‘still face experiment’, which illustrates the distressing disintegration of a young child, whose parent temporarily stops responding to their cues (Youtube link). It also includes the work of Lynne Murray, who demonstrated that even warm responses to infants are not regulating unless they are exactly timed with their cues. This is important as for some parent-infant dyads, ruptures can be severe and chronically prevent the carer from being able to sensitively attune to their infant – ‘toxic mis-attunement’. This might occur when factors specific to the child get in the way of them being able to communicate their needs effectively (e.g. speech and language difficulties or neurodevelopmental difficulties), or when factors specific to the parent stop them being able to receive and process the child’s distress signals appropriately (e.g. mental health difficulties or substance misuse problems). There may also be external stressors impacting on the relationship (e.g. domestic violence or poverty). In these cases, it is imperative that mental health and social support services are proactively mobilised to offer early support to both the child and the carer.

Hoghughi, M. & Speight, A. (1998). Good enough parenting for all children – A strategy for a healthier society. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 78, 4, 293-296.

Murray, L. & Trevarthen, C. (1985). Emotional regulations of interactions between two-month-olds and their mothers. In T. M. Field & N. A. Fox (Eds.),Social perception in infants (pp. 177-197). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

(A blog I wrote for Brighton and Hove Psychotherapy)

20th May 2019

The Power of Superheroes

Children who are unable to talk about their worries, might be able to describe, draw or make a superhero, who has all the powers that they feel they would need in order to cope with their worries.

By paying special attention to the features and abilities that their unique superhero has, you may be able to better guess at, or even open a light discussion about their underlying fears, e.g…

MASKS: Is the child worried about other people noticing that they are scared? Are they worried about what other people are thinking about them? Are they worried about being seen or noticed by a particular person?

SHIELD: What would the child protect themselves from?

WEAPON: What would the child envisage needing to attack?

SUIT COLOUR: Does it stand out or blend in? How would the child feel about standing out more in real life?

ABILITY TO BECOME INVISIBLE / CLIMB WALLS / FLY, ETC.: Does the child ever feel trapped in situations (e.g. class) that they feel they can’t escape?

This approach can be helpful, because children who are ‘freed up’ in fantasy or play, are generally in a less frightened and defensive state than children who are asked to talk directly about worries that they might not even fully understand themselves.

14th May 2019

Why Traditional Behavioural Strategies Don’t Work for All Children Dr Laura Tinkl

One of the most frequently asked questions put to me in clinic, is why some children do not respond to traditional reward/punishment based behavioural strategies. The answer is simple – because, contrary to popular opinion, these strategies do not work for all children in all situations.

This is because the ability to make a mental link between a behaviour and a punishment, and to then be to be subsequently less motivated to use that behaviour again, actually involves quite sophisticated cognitive processes. It also requires specific parts of the brain to be functioning well. Difficulties with this may apply to children with learning disabilities or neurological conditions. It may also apply to children who are anxious, fearful or traumatised. This is because anxious or fearful children are often operating from a very primitive part of their brain that physically impedes their ability to access more developed parts of their brains. This in turn makes it harder for them to make cause and effect links, to generalise, to suppress their impulses, to make rational decisions, to maintain empathy for others and, in some cases, even to trust in the motivations of others. Punishing these children without supporting them to understand what is happening for them, therefore, is actually more likely to increase their fearful behaviours and further undermine their trust in those around them. For some children, it can also exacerbate feelings of shame.

A second concern with an overly heavy reliance on behaviourist principles when applied to children, is the theoretical and research origins upon which these principles are based. Behaviourism was largely developed in the 1950s and 1960s in laboratories with small mammals such as dogs, cats and rats – animals with significantly less developed brains than our own. Whilst these experiments can teach us a lot about how to shape behaviour in its purist sense therefore (i.e. classical and operant conditioning), they offer nothing in terms of how we build children’s self-esteem, build their intrinsic motivation, or even how to protect their attachment relationships. For instance, classically conditioning young babies to sleep by ignoring their attachment-seeking behaviours, can have detrimental effects on a child’s subsequent relational security and internal regulation skills. Similarly, a heavy reliance on operantly conditioning ‘good behaviour’ in young children with external motivators (e.g. star charts) has been shown to undermine a child’s natural desire to problem solve, be creative and to keep building on their successes when these external motivators are later removed.

Whilst some behavioural principles within a parenting repertoire can undoubtedly be helpful, therefore, when used to excess, and particularly when used in the absence of a broader context of sensitive, loving and developmentally appropriate care, they can quickly become damaging. This is because human children have brains that require so much more from the parent-carer relationship than simple behavioural conditioning.

Part of my role as a Clinical Psychologist, therefore, is to help parents, carers and professionals, to find new and more effective ways of supporting children to reach their full potential.

(A blog I wrote for Brighton and Hove Psychotherapy – Image courtesy of ‘Biological Psychology’ (Rosenzweig, Breedlove and Leiman, 2002)

3rd May 2019

WPA Recognition

Delighted to add WPA to the growing list of private health insurers who we hold professional recognition with.

29th April 2019

Rupture and Repair in Secure Attachments

One of the most important features of a secure parent-child attachment, is the ability of a parent to repair their relationship with their child whenever there is a rupture in it.

Ruptures are normal and common to all interpersonal relationships, and can be caused by many factors (e.g. separation, conflict, misunderstanding, etc.). Regardless of the source of the rupture however, what is common to parents of securely attached children, is that they always initiate its repair. This repeated act over many years sends their children the crucial message that whatever has happened, and whatever they have done, it is NOT more important to their parent than they are.

17th April 2019

Developing Emotional Regulation

To develop the skill to eat with a knife and fork, we first need to learn how to grab things and put them in our mouths.

To develop the skill of emotional regulation, we first need to know that there is an adult attachment figure in our life who is reliably available to us, who can contain our messy feelings, and who is interested in our internal world. This is because the experience of being regulated by someone else is an essential building block to self-regulation.

15th April 2019

Helping Children to Speak When They Can’t Find The Words…

April 12th 2019

‘A Parakeet Thinking…’

Delighted with this beautiful, hand-signed print “A Parakeet Thinking”, by children’s artist Quentin Blake for our therapy room!

31st March 2019

Introducing Rex!

Delighted to introduce ‘Rex’ to our team – a 3D anatomy model, who specialises in helping children to better understand how their brain works ?

29th March 2019

Feeling Safe Enough to Get Messy…

Getting ready for a messy day in clinic tomorrow… because sometimes children need to feel safe exploring and talking about messy stuff outside of them, before they can dare to explore or talk about the messy, scary stuff inside of them.

28th March 2019

The clinic crayons have arrived!

23rd March 2019

Stress and Dysregulation in Babies and Young Children

Did you know that the opposite to stress in a child’s brain is not to feel happy, but to feel soothed, calm and relaxed? This can help us to understand why very young children (and older children with emotional regulation difficulties) can quickly become dysregulated – “melt down” or “kick off” – by the arousal of happy, over-stimulating and exciting experiences, as much as they can by sad and upsetting ones.

22nd March 2019

How Children Build Resilience

Have you ever wondered why very young children believe that they can jump higher, throw further and run faster than they are clearly capable of? This is an important developmental stage in building a child’s later resilience. A child’s unrealistic self-belief (and their incredible ability to ignore signs of failure), gives them the confidence that they need to keep practicing skills that would otherwise be too difficult for them to master. Overtime, reality realigns their expectations… but for some children, their circumstances means this happens too soon.

22nd March 2019

Professional Recognition with Vitality Health

We are delighted to add VitalityHealth to the list of private insurers who we now hold professional healthcare recognition with. ⭐️

8th March 2019

‘Flipping your Lid’ – Dr Dan Siegal

‘Flipping your lid’: An old, but classic clip from Dr Dan Siegel, which helps to explain what happens when a child’s brain becomes overwhelmed

4th March 2019

Children’s Family Drawings…

A child’s drawing of their family can be hugely revealing… who is in the picture? Are they in it? Whereabouts on the page are they? How big are they? How close are the adults? Why did they choose the colours they did? …because children in distress communicate with more than just their words.

28th February 2019

The Joy of Therapy Putty!

Therapy Putty in different colours and strengths – appreciated by parents as much as children!

27th February 2019

Our Beautiful Doll’s House!

Our new, beautiful and HUGE Victorian dolls house – busily being prepped for theraplay, story stem work and creative play!

27th February 2019

Professional Recognition with AVIVA and AXA PPP Healthcare

Delighted to announce that we have just been awarded professional healthcare recognition from private health insurers AXA PPP Healthcare and AVIVA.

15th January 2019

Roots and Wings Clinical Psychology

Roots and Wings offer highly specialist psychological support to children and young people aged 0-18. If you are caring for or working with a child or young person who you feel worried about, we would be happy to help you in finding a way forward.