Creative Therapies at Wilds lodge

Our diverse dynamic creative therapies team put our young people at the heart of what we do. Creative therapies can be really helpful as they offer different and unique ways of expressing feelings and emotions that can be hard for young people to understand or explain.   

Creative therapies have been found to help to improve communication skills, increase awareness, and build confidence and resilience. The great thing about creative therapies is that our boys do not need to be good at art, dance and drama nor do they need to be experts with animals; creativity is offered to find new ways to explore and talk about what is on their mind.

Winner - Creativity award - Twitter Advert(1200x600).png

It has changed how well I can control my emotions and it also has changed my ability to speak to people when upset

2019 Winners!

Tes Independent School Award for Creativity.

What do we offer?

Our team provides one to one sessions for pupils in the school who need extra emotional support.  

Students can be referred to the therapy department by any adult parent/ carer/ staff member. Or students can request sessions themselves. Typically children will be allowed time to settle into the school before sessions are offered.

The team holds a weekly referral meeting where careful consideration is given to  the interests and presenting issues of the child alongside the individual disciplines and expertise of the therapist to help find how best to support the child's/young person’s needs.  

Our students are initially offered four sessions to experience therapy and what it could offer them before being supported in the decision of whether they would like attend regular sessions.  

Therapy is then provided on a weekly basis for 50 minutes (1 lesson) sometimes this is shorter for younger pupils. Sessions are held on the same day and time every week, this will have been negotiated with the young person and class teacher to ensure it is an appropriate time to be out of the classroom.

Therapy sessions are reviewed every 12 weeks where the voice of the child is encouraged and supported by the therapist to ensure the therapy being offered is affective.  

We are able to offer long term therapy, most of our students attend sessions for 1-2 years.  

Not all of our students wish to access individual therapy.  Therefore, our therapists run lunchtime creative clubs as an alternative therapeutic activity  to connect with those who might otherwise miss out on the benefits derived from therapy. Our students who already attend individual therapy are also welcome in these groups, our team aims to make therapy accessible and inclusive to all our pupils.

Therapy in the School

The therapy team are a part of the school community, and work alongside the staff on therapeutic practice with the children including pupil focus groups and staff training on topics such as, trauma, bereavement and self harm.   

Our therapists are involved in the wider school ethos and work with students and staff on committees such as Student Voice/Council, Music/Arts festival, Eco committee, Values Based Education, Rights Respecting/Trauma informed schools, SEN committee, Self Harm, Enterprise project, Forest schools and sports teams but to name a few.

Before the commencement of therapy all children/young people will be made aware of our policy relating to confidentiality. Therapists are obliged to break this confidence if: a child or young person appears at risk including expressing a serious intention to harm themselves. The therapist will always explain the reasons for disclosure to the young person and if possible seek their agreement. All information will then be shared with the person specially appointed by the school to deal with such matters (Safeguarding Team).

Please feel free to contact a member of the team if you have any questions or would like to discuss anything with the Counsellor or Psychotherapist working with your child. We can be reached through the main Wilds Lodge office number.

Creative Therapists

A creative  therapist is a person who has been trained to help people explore their feelings and how they might be affected by these in their everyday lives. They will take time to build a trusting relationship and do their best to understand the World from the Child’s point of view. All our therapists are state registered, accredited and qualified at a postgraduate degree and above.

The Team

Abigail Thomson - Art Psychotherapist


Abigail is a qualified Art Psychotherapist state registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). She is also a member of British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT).  Art Therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses a mix of art making, play and talking to help children and young people to find different ways of sharing thoughts and feelings.  

Abigail has worked with us at Wilds Lodge since February 2014 and is a senior member of the team.  She has experience in a wide variety of settings including primary mainstream education, adult mental health as well as drug and alcohol counselling in the criminal justice system and primary care services.

Abigail believes passionately in the healing nature of art- making.  She recognises the importance of a supportive environment to allow each child time to explore and understand themselves better.  She trusts that through her therapy sessions and the overall experience of Wilds Lodge, each child given time will be able to build and draw upon their own inner resources to find solutions for themselves.    

Abigail has a special interest in working with self-harm and suicide and has recently completed a course at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. She is keen to develop her interest in this subject further. 


Daniella Budd - Dance Movement Psychotherapist

Daniella has a Master's Degree in Dance Movement Pyschotherapy, and is a full member of The Association of Dance Movement Psychotherapy (ADMP). DMP uses movement as a form of communication and expression to assist integration of the body and mind. Daniella understands that words may not be easy for some of our boys, and offers a creative outlet within a more relaxed atmosphere.

Daniella has a keen interest in working with the body to facilitate development. She draws upon frameworks from Rudolf Laban and integrates these ideas with Kestenberg's Movement Analysis to gain a whole sense of developmental stages within a young person, and move these along at a pace that is safe.

Daniella is currently working to become our Trauma Informed Schools Practitioner and is in contact with ADMP to set up a hub for Dance Movement Psychotherapists throughout Rutland and Leicestershire. This will be to share ideas and experiences that will inform further therapeutic work within Wilds Lodge.   


Mandy Neilson - Art Psychotherapist


Mandy is a qualified Art Psychotherapist registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and a member of British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT).

Her previous experience ranges from working in a specialised school for children in foster care and adoption, working with adolescents with SEMH, families of army personnel, families who have experienced domestic violence and in mainstream education.

Mandy feels passionately about the therapeutic effects of art making and being creative to facilitate expression and positive wellbeing. She has a particular interest in clay and its malleable properties which can be effective in conveying deep emotion.

Mandy has trained with GenderIntelligence on Working with Gender Variant People in Therapy. She is also trained in Parent & Child Dyadic Art Psychotherapy which is an approach that focuses on improving the relationship between a child and one of their primary caregivers. In addition, Mandy has completed the LunaChildren’sCharity Children's Accelerated Trauma Treatment. This is a new technique for treating trauma and PTSD, based on a merging of arts/ play based methods.


Erica Hedges - Dramatherapist


Erica is a qualified Dramatherapist state registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). She is also a member of the British Association of Dramatherapists (BADth). Dramatherapy is a form of psychotherapy in which all of the performance arts are used to express oneself and to effect psychological change. 

Erica’s practice aims to give equal validity to the body and the mind within the dramatic context; stories, myths, play-texts, puppetry, mask and improvisation are examples of the range of artistic interventions that she employs. 

Previous to working at Wilds Lodge, Erica’s therapeutic experience included working in both mainstream and SEND school environments. In addition she worked as a Dramatherapist for a charity supporting young people with ASD.

In addition, Erica has undertaken the level 1 Theraplay training and is able to offer family work based on Theraplay principles.


Jade Tebbutt - Therapeutic Play Practitioner

Jade is a qualified Therapeutic Play Practitioner trained with APAC (The Academy of Play and Child psychotherapy).

Jade is on the accredited registered with PTUK (Play Therapy UK).

Jade Has worked at with us here a Wilds Lodge since 2015 and has developed positive therapeutic relationship with many of our students.

Jade is pleased to have the opportunity to be able to bring Therapeutic play to our therapy team at Wilds Lodge school.

Therapeutic play integrates the therapeutic use of a wide range of creative arts media and the Play Therapy Tool-Kit; working with unconscious as well as conscious processes; using non-directive techniques. Play is a method that allows the child to help themselves, Play is a child’s natural medium of self-expression, it is essential for a child’s development and gives the child the opportunity to ‘Play out’ their feelings and emotions with a therapeutic objective and safe space of the playroom.

Toys are Children’s words and play is their language.
— Gary Landreth

Therapy gives you someone to talk to and to trust

Helpful Links

NSPCC - The leading children's charity fighting to end child abuse in the UK and Channel Islands.

Childline - A wealth of information and resources for all things child related.

Mental Health - About all things related to mental health and well-being.

Adoption Plus - Information about adopting and therapeutic support for those already adopting.

Family Futures - Again, support for families with adopted children, and offering therapeutic support.