Therapeutic Thinking

3. Key principles of Therapeutic Thinking

Key principles of Therapeutic Thinking

Therapeutic Thinking is an approach to behaviour that prioritises the prosocial (positive) feelings of everyone within the dynamic. This is based on the principle that:

  • Negative experiences create negative feelings. Negative feelings create negative behaviour.

  • Positive experiences create positive feelings. Positive feelings create positive behaviour.

Children that have Risk Factors in their lives are more likely to have negative feelings and are therefore more likely to display negative behaviours. Whilst an educational setting cannot eradicate all the risk factors a child may have experienced or be experiencing, it can look to ensure the child has as many protective factors and positive experiences as possible, in order to create more positive feelings within them.

The approach supports settings to create clear behaviour policies that outline how staff should respond to incidents of behaviour that are not pro-social. Where a consequence is required in order to address a behaviour it must always be a learning consequence; a logical action which supports the child to understand their behaviour and to learn new skills if needed. If a protective consequence is needed to ensure safety this is only ever alongside a learning consequence so that the freedom can be returned to the child as soon as possible.

Therapeutic Thinking challenges the concepts of bribes and sanctions used to manage behaviour which can lead to some children only being able to maintain this between 9am and 3pm, Monday to Friday, Term Time only – when the systems are in place around them.

Therapeutic Thinking seeks to foster the independence of children by teaching them how to develop internal discipline. The aim being that they are always able to behave pro socially, without the need for adults to manage this.

Behaviour must be analysed and not moralised in order to understand it and prevent it. Therapeutic Thinking provides various tools to enable the analysis of behaviour and therefore to assist in better planning to prevent difficult or dangerous situations from occurring and to highlight the learning or experiences needed.

Within the training clear links are made to the new Ofsted Framework.

Links are also made with the DFE document; Mental health and behaviour in schools (2018).

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