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The organisation has three core principles that underpin its therapeutic work:
1. Staff need a good psychodynamic understanding to provide an informed psychodynamic approach
2. The development of a reflective culture at all levels and in all disciplines is paramount
3. Collaborative working is central to a high quality treatment environment
The work of psychotherapists and those who work in a psychodynamic way is to try and change the person from within, that is to see the behaviours as symptoms of the inner conflicts and to try and address the causes of the symptoms rather than to rectify the behaviours. This approach is used to understand children’s behaviours as communications of unmet needs.
It is through the examination of the communication that children present through their behaviour that themes begin to emerge and their underlying needs can be identified.
The emotional impact of this work is considerable, and it is only through a high level of mutual support acknowledging and understanding these processes that staff are able to continue working effectively. Reflective practice within the school enables staff to question their own reactions and behaviours and also that of their colleagues with the aim of improving practice leading to a greater understanding of the children’s behaviour.
This reflective culture at the heart of the staff group is replicated in the life of staff with and alongside the children. This encourages children to develop reflective skills enabling them to explore and understand the impact for them of living and learning alongside one another.
The sharing of the impact of the work leads to collaborative working, but further to this the school is conscious of the potential splits between departments and teams and so tries to combat this by actively engaging in collaborative work. Therapeutic communities are well-known for their inclusive meetings. The Mulberry Bush encourages open communications at all times, paying due care to the sensitivity of those present. Difficult subjects are encouraged to be talked about with parents and other professionals.
These three core principles are closely interlinked, and directly look after the well being of staff and children; it is by paying careful attention to staff needs (through support structures, training and individual, team and departmental relationships) that the children’s needs can best be met.