The health and emotional wellbeing of young people have increasingly come under the spotlight over the years. This is particularly so for young people who have sensory/physical or medical needs as, along with the pressures of adolescence and growing up, they also face many barriers and issues to do with their disabilities. However, there has not been much written about in terms of targeted emotional support and interventions around emotional wellbeing for this population. In light of this gap, the Educational Psychology Service of Tower Hamlets and Public Health became involved in a project called "Time To Talk".
This offered thirty-six young people with sensory/physical/medical needs in seven local secondary schools a chance to participate in a counselling based intervention involving therapeutic conversations. Various approaches taken from solution-focused thinking, motivational interviewing and cognitive behaviour therapy were used to guide the conversations. The intervention was short term, offering young people up to six sessions, each for a maximum of 50 minutes. Evaluation of the project was through a mixture of pre- and post-scaling before and after the intervention as well as qualitative information from comments the young people made.
Overall, there was a generally positive impact, with many young people feeling better able to manage their situations and decreasing in their concerns and generally feeling well listened to. Their schools also acknowledged some positive changes and valued the input. In conclusion, the project highlighted a number of important themes to emerge from the conversations with the young people such as: wanting to have independence and autonomy, transition and future aspirations, coping with anxiety and stress and relationship issues. The project also demonstrates how partnerships between the Educational Psychology service and different commissioning bodies can lead to creative and imaginative ways of working. After all, educational psychologists can be well placed to offer early interventions for emotional wellbeing before situations reach crisis point, due to their psychological training and experience of working with young people and community and school settings.
Syeda, M. (2015). Time to talk: The benefits of therapeutic conversations in supporting young people with sensory/physical and medical disabilities. Educational Psychology Research and Practice, 3 (2), 44–49.