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At the Centre for Creative Practice, supporting practitioners to hear children and young people’s voices is at the heart of what we do. 

Our Founding Directors Mary Rose Brady and Dr Patricia Watts highlight the role that creativity can play in helping every child and young person to have a voice.

For children and young people who may struggle with verbal communication, creative outlets such as art, music, or dance provide alternative ways to express  emotions, thoughts and experiences. 

Giving children and young people a creative outlet helps them to externalize and make sense of  their feelings.

By representing their emotions through art, children and young people can explore different aspects of themselves and their environment, helping them better understand their emotions and giving them a sense of control.

Creative activities, such as drawing or mindfulness exercises, can also help children and young people to relax and focus on inner thoughts and can offer strategies for self-regulation that can be used in a number of different settings.

Engaging in creative activities gives children and young people a sense of achievement that can positively impact their self-esteem, and showcasing their creativity also helps children and young people to build confidence. 

Being creative in a group setting can also facilitate social connection with peers and can promote a sense of belonging and shared experience.

Creativity is an effective  tool in  helping  adults to engage with children and young people and can aid important conversations about their emotional well-being and mental health.  This is all the more important for quieter voices, and for the children and young people who experience barriers to communicating verbally.

Incorporating creativity into therapeutic conversations with children and young people facilitates self-reflection, and can include activities such as journaling, personal artwork or storytelling.  

By integrating creativity with mental health awareness, children and young people’s practitioners can contribute to the overall well-being of the children and young people they support and help them to voice any issues that inhibit their well-being.

At the Centre for Creative Therapeutic Practice, we upskill the children and young people’s workforce, to recognise signs of mental health difficulties and apply creative therapeutic approaches to their practice to support children and young people effectively and timely, and in the here and now.

We are committed to supporting practitioners in their work with children and young people to facilitate therapeutic conversations through creativity and to ensure that the voices of all children and young people are heard and to promote the message that their voice matters.

For further information on how we support children and young people’s practitioners, follow the link to our services.

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To mark #WorldMentalHealthDay2023 Founding Director Dr Patricia Watts shines a light on the mental health needs of education staff.

As we mark World Mental Health Day 2023, the echoes of the challenges faced by education staff in the post-pandemic era resonate louder than ever. The nature of the education profession can lead to staff burnout due to the high levels of responsibility, workload, and emotional labour. Education staff often navigate emotionally charged environments, dealing with the diverse needs of children and young people.

The toll of stress and vicarious trauma is felt deeply within educational settings where staff work tirelessly to support the mental health needs of children and young people, and in many cases taking on a dual role to act as a buffer for the gaps in children’s mental health services. It is recognised that regular self-care can act as a protective buffer for education staff, preventing burnout and sustaining long-term well-being.

Self-care practices contribute to emotional resilience, enabling educators to feel regulated and better handle the emotional demands of their roles. Education staff also act as role models for children and young people and by prioritising self-care, they demonstrate the importance of well-being and model regulation which can teach children and young people valuable self-care strategies that can be applied out with the classroom.

The Department for Education's 'Education Staff Well Being Charter', which prioritises mentally healthy schools, underscores the critical importance of proactive measures to safeguard the mental health of those within the educational community. Recently, the TCCTP Directors had the privilege of hosting our Creative Therapeutic Self-Care for Schools programme at an all-staff wellbeing day at a secondary school in the South of England. Here we offered a safe space for school staff to consider the impact of stress on their physical and mental health and the learning environment. Staff then engaged in a number of short guided activities to implement creative therapeutic self-care into their daily school routines and support them to promote self-regulation.

Creativity is a valuable asset in education, and this is something educators usually facilitate for children and young people. The common themes we heard from educators participating in our Creative Therapeutic Self-Care for Schools programme was that ‘it felt good to have the time to do something creative for themselves, it was a relief to only focus on one activity at a time and it was satisfying to have the opportunity to complete an activity’.

We also heard from several staff that having time to be creative helped them to re-connect with what they love about their jobs and facilitated reflection on why they embarked on a career in education. Although it is not always easy to make self-care a priority with the competing demands of the role, self-care activities, such as making time for art making, mindfulness and relaxation techniques can improve concentration and overall cognitive function.

In essence, self-care is not a luxury for education staff; it is fundamental for sustaining their well-being and positively impacting the learning environment for children and young people and is an investment that pays dividends in both personal and professional realms. As we mark World Mental Health Day 2023, we encourage all education staff to take a proactive step towards prioritising their mental health and making space for self-care and creativity.

To learn more about our support for education staff, visit our website or contact us at

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Updated: Feb 8, 2023

To mark the start of #ChildrensMentalHealthWeek Founding Director Mary Rose Brady shares her thoughts on the impact of lengthy waiting lists on children and young people.

I recently stumbled upon a blog that I was invited to write for the Huffington Post in February 2017 to celebrate the launch of the Time to Talk Campaign. This high profile anti-stigma campaign heralded a new found optimism; hope that we could finally make a long lasting impact on children and young peoples’ mental health.

The current unprecedented surge in referrals is evidence that we have made significant inroads in tackling stigma and supporting the workforce to better identify mental health issues in children. However, where we still fail abysmally is in the provision of timely access to effective follow up intervention once referrals have been made.

It is wholly unacceptable children and young people, identified as being in distress or having a mental health problem, then have to wait for many months or even years for support. What more urgent issue could there be than a child who is self-harming or having suicidal thoughts? Likewise, an increasing number of suspected autistic children and young people are awaiting diagnosis due to ever lengthening waiting lists. The distress and exhaustion most encounter in having to mask their autism and navigate a world created for neurotypical brains has a chronically corrosive impact on wellbeing.

Yes, we have increased awareness but mental health issues continue to rise and children continue to wait. The facts make for shameful reading. At the time of the Huffington Post blog it was estimated that 3 children in every classroom had a diagnosable mental health condition, 6 years later this figure is estimated to have risen to 5.

Naturally, we cannot underestimate the added impact of the pandemic on mental health but we also have to be cognisant of the fact that numbers were on the rise pre pandemic. As mammals our innate biological drive compels us to seek proximity and consistency in times of stress, illness or threat. However, the overriding official message during the pandemic was the opposite; that proximity is dangerous as it may lead to infection and possibly death. Furthermore, our Central Nervous System’s need for consistency and predictability was to be dealt a significant blow. This virus was not predictable – no one , not even health experts could deliver a consistent message or predict trajectory or prognosis leaving us dysregulated by being forced to override our innate survival strategies. We are in no doubt a traumatised population in the wake of the COVID outbreak.

It is a soul destroying and futile exercise to stir a pot of existing anxiety and redouble the message that the future is bleak. We have an existing, committed Children and Young People’s work force who generally know their children intimately and have already established one of the key components for therapeutic change – a safe trusting relationship. Our call for action is that there is no better time to revolutionise how we think about delivering creative therapeutic intervention, practice and training. Let’s further develop the skills of the current workforce to provide immediate and effective therapeutic support through embedded targeted and whole school therapeutic approaches.

To learn more visit our website or contact us on

Follow us on twitter @tcctp_org #nochildshouldhavetowaitforsupport.

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