Gymtherapy was established by in response to two key observations. Firstly, waiting lists for children's cognitive, behavioural or mental health intervention were simply failing at-risk, below the threshold children. Many only came to the attention of social care once they had experienced harm or abuse, highlighting the need for preventative safeguarding education. Secondly, traditional classroom-based learning really was not for everyone. It was noted that children who were marginalised academically, experienced ADHD, Autism or other conditions, thrived when presented with a kinetic model of learning.
Our Core Modules
We understand that it is impossible to predict what type of social-emotional intervention children or young people may need at any given time. That's why our sessions are flexible. Following the initial assessment, we can either create bespoke sessions based upon areas of potential risk, or you can choose to book one of our five key modules below (either individually or as part of a holistic ten week package).
Identity and Self Esteem
At Gymtherapy, we recognise the importance of confidence and self worth to a child's development. This module is dedicated to encouraging positive self-regard, celebrating diversity, and exploring wishes and feelings for the future (upholstered by Childrens Act 1989). Here, we make use of narrative choreography to approach wellbeing through the medium of movement. Our aim is to help children to foster a sense of their inherent value, recognise their unique qualities as well as those present in others. Our bespoke activities communicate the notion that the self is not defined by external events or circumstances.
Clarity is everything.
Children learn CBT based mindfulness techniques which can enable them to disengage from ruminating on past events or future anxieties and reach a state of equilibrium and focus. Mindfulness skills enable children to develop coping strategies anchored in their sensory reality. Here, children are more readily able to adopt an 'attitude of gratitude' about their present reality. Mindfulness
has been proven to improve academic performance and focus when applied to a classroom context.
Children are taught to differentiate between thoughts, feelings and behaviour, developing conflict resolution techniques in order to diffuse the initial stages of tension. In addition, children are taught a variety of channels which can be used to process angry thoughts, such as cardio exercises, slow-motion movement (proven to reduce stress in ADHD children), reflective art work and fine motor tasks. Here, children are taught how to express anger in a controlled environment under guided supervision.
Working Together 2015 guidance highlights the need for children to be put in the driving seat of their own safeguarding provision. This short module helps children to explore concepts relating to personal space, establishing boundaries, and ‘good secrets and bad secrets’ through kinetic activities. Here, children develop an understanding of how to identify 'Early Warning Signs' - signals which manifest through our bodies when we feel unsafe. Furthermore, children are given the opportunity to learn how to make disclosures surrounding abuse, or, how to pass on disclosures from other children.
Gymtherapy enables children to dismantle negative stereotypes directed toward their gender in order to increase confidence, challenge disempowering expectations and to allow children to establish goals which are not entirely ‘body image’ focused. Furthermore, the importance of protective online attitudes is explored, in order to study the impact of social media on resulting behaviours.One lesson plan is designed exclusively for a unisex group, and one for a female group, in order that delicate topics can be explored in a sensitive and appropriate context.
How does Gymtherapy fit with Safeguarding in Legislation?
Working Together 2015
The guidance states that effective saffeguarding arrangements in every local area must be underpinned by:
- A child centred approach: for services to be effective they should be based on a clear understanding of the needs and views of children.
Gymtherapy addresses this need, by utilising engaging, dynamic and creative approaches to ascertaining the wishes and feelings of children.
- Safeguarding is everyone's responsibility; for sevices to be effective, each practitioner and organisation should play their full part.
Gymtherapy promotes a multi-agency approach to safeguarding, ensuring that children are provided with opportunities to disclose information in a safe, nurturing environment. Furthermore, Gymtherapy is able to support the existing curriculum by providing safeguarding education, enabling children and young people to understand their rights, how to make disclosures, and how to establish physical and emotional boundaries.
Keeping Children Safe in Education 2018
Referring children and families to 'Early Help' supervision is a key duty outlined in the current guidance. Gymtherapy is a low-level, early intervention service which enables, empowers and educates children and young people. We're positive about prevention.
The NSPCC states that sectors should 'create safe environents for children and young people through robust safeguarding practices', which includes the act of teaching children and young people about staying safe (NSPCC, 2018). Our sessions aim to educate children on how to recognise dysfunctional relationship patterns, identify unsafe behaviours online, and to recognise 'Early Warning Signs' within their body which are symptomatic of unsafe environment and situations (Wrench, 2016). Our sessions adopt a truly preventative angle, and we imbed the 'Seven Strategies' (Keen, Lott and Wallis 2010) in order to encourage children to reflect on their experiences and make disclosures where relevant. Furthermore, when communicating the essence of protective behaviours (West, cited in ibid), children are encouraged to break dysfunctional cycles by identifying maladaptive thoughts, feelings and behaviours which may have previously acted as internal barriers to disclosure, whilst promulgating risk. In increasing resilience in children and young people, the potential for long-term positive change becomes ever more viable. Gymtherapy provides children with opportunities to increase their own wellbeing through engaging safeguarding education, promoting social-emotional and physical wellbeing.