Ferndearle has a variety of therapeutic programmes that cater for the varying emotional needs and family circumstances of each young person.  All of our programmes are delivered in the framework of our Secure Base Model that enables children and young people to develop a greater sense of security and builds resilience.

For a more in-depth understanding of the framework, you should go to the Therapeutic Care and Therapeutic Model pages of this website. For a summary of the different types of therapeutic programmes, see below.


Ferndearle provides a number of different assessments which are briefly outlined below:

Therapy Assessments (six weeks)

All young people who come to Ferndearle have an assessment with one of our Psychotherapists to ascertain what type of therapy will be most suitable to them. This assessment usually starts a couple of weeks into the placement unless the placement begins during the school holidays as there is no formal therapy during holidays. In some cases the actual assessment may not be required as some children may come to Ferndearle already having had experience of therapy. In such cases and where the Local Authority already know what type of therapy the child successfully accesses, the therapy will begin without the assessment during the timescale outlined above.

Holistic Assessment (12-14 weeks)

These assessments are managed by Ferndearle’s Co-ordinator of Therapeutic Services, Michelle Newman-Brown, Consultant Systemic Psychotherapist. The assessment process will be anything between twelve to fourteen weeks and the time frame will depend upon the complexity and depth of the assessment as well as the pace at which the child, and where applicable, relevant family members are able to engage. In some cases the assessment may be based around the possibility of a young person being able to eventually return home following the identification of what therapeutic intervention is required to achieve this.  This will entail assessment of family contact and may be a package similar to the one outlined below under Specialist Intensive Programme to Home/Foster Package. In any event, the assessment is designed to give Local Authorities the following information:

  • Identification of any specific diagnoses;
  • Identification of the holistic needs of the young person;
  • Identification of the type of placement & interventions required to meet these needs following the assessment;
  • If the outcome of the assessment is that the child requires longer in our therapeutic community, the identification of the approximate time required to effect change and to prepare for a family setting;
  • If the outcome of the assessment is that the child’s needs following the assessment are not best met in our therapeutic community, a recommendation of the type of placement required;
  • If this is a family placement, recommendations will be put forward in relation to a transition programme; educational placement and any therapy requirements.

The holistic assessment is co-ordinated by our systemic psychotherapist but includes insight from our three sectors of therapeutic care, education and therapy. That is, observations of the therapeutic care and education teams along with insight obtained via individual weekly therapy sessions with the child and from any observational assessments or direct discussion with family members where applicable.  The assessment will also draw upon reports and/or direct discussion with any relevant professionals that have been involved with the young person.

Multi-disciplinary Therapy Assessments

Where it is deemed applicable, Ferndearle carries out Speech and Language and/or Occupational therapy assessments which may result in regular therapy in these areas that is in addition to Psychotherapy.  We also undertake Educational Psychology assessments when deemed appropriate.  These assessments frequently provide staff with specific strategies to use in the home and/or the school. The aforementioned assessments are quite common place for some of the young people that reside at Ferndearle and are undertaken by highly experienced professionals who have been vetted by Ferndearle and who form part of our Consultant base .

Clinical Psychology and Psychiatric Assessments

Whilst these are not common place assessments at Ferndearle, there may be circumstances where these are required and consequently we do access these if and when necessary.  The circumstances are usually:

  • When a different form of therapy is required other than psychotherapy;
  • When a child is admitted to Ferndearle having been assessed by a therapist to require this form of assessment;
  • When a new development in the presentation of a young person arises that suggests one of these assessments would be of benefit.

Medium and Long-term placements

Ferndearle provides medium and long term placements which are suitable for young people who require a relatively longer period in a therapeutic environment due to the complexity of their needs.  The average length of these placements tends to be between two and three years. At the beginning of the placement, these young people undertake a six week assessment with Ferndearle’s Consultant Systemic Psychotherapist to assess the type of therapy that would be most appropriate to meet their needs during their placement. In some cases where the LA and Ferndearle deem it appropriate and in their best interest, some young people may remain at Ferndearle until they reach independence.  In such cases the young person is part of the decision making process.  Ferndearle has a comprehensive independence programme for these young people. For details of the support to the child other than the therapy assessment outlined above, click on Therapeutic Care and the Therapeutic Model pages for an outline of the full programme.

Adoption/Family Break-down & Reunification

Specialist Intensive Programme to Home

Apart from the short-term assessments and the medium and long-term therapeutic programmes outlined above, more recently Ferndearle has become well known and used for, ‘The Intensive Programme to Home Package’. This is for young people identified as being suitable for this which includes many adoption breakdowns as well as birth families. Ferndearle is well known in the successful work undertaken in integrating young people relatively quickly back to their families with a comprehensive package of therapies and parental behavioural support strategies for parenting specific behaviours.

Our experience has shown a particular need for this programme in adoption families where it becomes apparent that early year’s trauma is impacting significantly on the ability of the parents to continue to parent the child.
This programme is tailored to the needs of the family but may include (once an holistic assessment has been completed) all of, or, a combination of the items outlined below:

  • Individual therapy for the child.
  • Individual therapy for the parents which can include some or all of the following:
  • enabling the parents to work through their own trauma some of which may be related to how parenting a child with traumatic experiences has impacted on themselves and the family as a whole;
  • 'couple therapy' which specifically attends to how the couple are interacting/affected/getting on;
  • 'parental therapy' looking at how they are with their child and with each other about their child.  This therapy also enables the parents to identify any unhelpful parenting patterns.
  • When, and if deemed appropriate, the therapy may include other members of the family, mainly siblings.
  • Full family therapy which will include a combination of sessions that involve the parents and the child; the parents, the child and siblings and/or other family members.
  • Parent/residential carer therapy where both the parents and carers attend to aid communication for and about the child.
  • Behaviour management strategy meetings that entail the parents, in the presence of the child, being made aware of the behavioural parenting strategies that work for the child as well as the child’s self-help strategies that they have been taught and adopted whilst on the programme. 
  • Assessments of family contact in order to identify and address parenting and relationship patterns.

For details of the therapeutic support to the child other than the therapy outlined above, click on Therapeutic Care for an outline of the full programme.  For further details of the various types of therapy click on the Systemic Practice page.

Short-term Stabilisation Period

This programme is used for young people who require a short stabilisation period prior to going to a foster placement. Ferndearle have found this successful with younger children who have recently been taken out of their family home and have been too traumatised (because of the move) initially to be managed in a foster family, thus resulting in several foster break-downs in very quick succession.  These tend to be young people who have relatively less developmental and emotional damage, thereby not needing the medium or long term placement.

This programme starts with the holistic assessment but, following this, is less family therapy orientated. The therapeutic behaviour management meetings with the foster family would be a significant part of this programme.  Therapeutic care based on a 24 hour care plan plus any specific weekly therapies needed by the child serve as the means by which the child is stabilised. 

Wherever possible or appropriate, however, we do recommend therapy with the child’s birth parents.  This includes therapy with the birth parent(s); with the birth parent(s) and child and at least one session with the birth parent(s) and foster parent(s). This can be for several reasons which we believe enhances the quality of life for the child, as well as sets up the foster placement to be more likely successful.  The advantages of family therapy for young people not returning home, amongst others, include:

  • releasing the child emotionally to invest in another family;
  • improving the quality of interactions and hence the quality of family contact.  This is of particular importance given that many young people return to their family networks once they leave care;
  • undertaking life story work to change the child’s negative internal narratives of self-blame and to obtain greater clarity of their history.  This work in particular serves as a powerful healing process as well as improving the quality of the relationship.

For further insight into the various forms of this family work, click on Systemic Practice.  For details of the full support to the child, click on Therapeutic Care for an outline of the full programme.