Therapeutic Thinking

1. What is therapeutic thinking?

Therapeutic Thinking is a philosophy. It focuses on how all children and young people are to be supported, particularly in terms of their emotional wellbeing and mental health; it also helps to develop an understanding of how to respond to those who may be communicating through concerning behaviours. The Therapeutic Thinking approach is a school-led embedded ethos characterised by an inclusive culture, based on training and information that is underpinned by best practice, policy and plans.

What are the aims of Therapeutic Thinking for schools in East Sussex?

Our overarching aim is for all East Sussex children to have the opportunity to flourish in their local school where they are understood, have their needs are met, and where they are prepared for the next stage in their education and lives. The Therapeutic Thinking agenda fits firmly within the Excellence for All shared vision and strategy with its focus on the most disadvantaged and vulnerable learners. Therapeutic Thinking will actively support all ESCC stakeholders to act as champions for vulnerable children and to better target resources in order to improve outcomes and opportunities for all children regardless of their educational or physical needs, their family background, the school they attend or the neighbourhood in which they live.

Therapeutic Thinking will lead to:

It is the aim that Therapeutic Thinking will provide both; the foundation of principles upon which Inclusive Practice is based in East Sussex, but also; the umbrella under which all other interventions and programmes must sit.

2. Wider aims of Therapeutic Thinking??

What are the wider aims of Therapeutic Thinking in East Sussex?

Our aim is to also embed the Therapeutic Thinking framework across all ESCC services so that we generate a common language for both understanding children’s behaviours and responding to them in an inclusive way that promotes change.

ISEND and SLES staff are already trained in Therapeutic Thinking and are therefore able to provide schools with appropriate support in embedding the principles within their settings.

As Therapeutic Thinking grows within East Sussex there are already plans in place to work closely with Social Care, Health and in the future, the Police.

How does Therapeutic Thinking sit Nationally?

We are working alongside 10 other counties that have either embedded Therapeutic Thinking or are on their journey to doing so. We have regular link meetings, share resources and expertise.

In Hertfordshire it has been running (under the name ‘Steps’) since 2012. They now have a county-wide, multi-agency approach across Education, Social Care, Health and the Police.

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:

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).

4. What training is on offer?

What training is on offer for Therapeutic Thinking?

The full training for Therapeutic Thinking is a 3-day course that is currently being run virtually. The course runs on 3 days from 9:30am to 4:30pm.

Attendees are required to attend all 3 full days.

The training is designed for the Head Teacher and other senior leaders, including Inclusion Leads and SENCOs.

The aim is for 2 people from every school in East Sussex to have attended the full training. Primary Schools are encouraged to send a maximum of 2 members of staff to the training and Secondary Schools a maximum of 3 members of staff. They do not have to both attend the same cohort. 

Once they have successfully attended they are considered ‘Tutors’ in Therapeutic Thinking and then have full access to the presentation resources and analysis tools in order to embed the principles within their school setting.

The school is also then provided with ESBAS Adviser time to support the successful strategic implementation of Therapeutic Thinking during the first year. The Tutors will also be invited to join Network meetings across the first year.

‘Tutors’ are expected to attend a Refresher Training session annually.

Therapeutic Thinking Training Information Jan 2022

What training dates are available?

5. Who can access the training and how to apply?

Who can access the Therapeutic Thinking Training?

Any school in East Sussex can send a representative to the training. This includes Academies, Free Schools, Special Schools and Alternative Provision.

The representatives sent to the training should include the Head Teacher of the school. Additional representatives should be part of the Senior Leadership team or Inclusion Team.

School’s should consider whether the representatives they put forward for the training have both; the presentation skills to re-deliver the material, and the authority within school to action change.

Primary Schools are encouraged to send a maximum of 2 members of staff to the training and Secondary Schools a maximum of 3 members of staff. They do not have to both attend the same cohort. 

How do schools apply for the Therapeutic Thinking Training?

Schools should complete the Application Form and send it to

Once received you will be sent confirmation that you are booked on your selected dates and more information about the venue, etc.

There is no qualifying criteria to meet in order for schools to apply. Schools must just complete the Application Form and agree to commit to the sessions they book.

6. What happens at the training?

What happens on the training?

The training is led by external Therapeutic Thinking consultant – Angela Wadham. The training is delivered using PowerPoint and all attendees are provided provided with the PowerPoint electronically for note-taking and to use when back in their schools. 

The training will cover all the key principles of Therapeutic Thinking a well as some engagement sections which enable attendees to realise the necessity for this philosophy to be embedded in East Sussex. There is always an ISEND representative at the training to answer questions and comment on any county-based queries and statistics.

The training will provide clear guidance and support in how to use the Therapeutic Thinking analysis and planning tools. These are also provided as hard copes and electronic copies for all attendees to use and share in their schools.

On the third day the attendees will each deliver their own 8-minute presentation to the group with a partner. This is an essential part of the training. The presentation resources and time to prepare are included within the training and all those that have partaken in this activity have been enthusiastic about it as an experience and learning tool.

Currently the Training is being held via Teams invites and facilitated with regular reflection activities, break out rooms and the opportunity for questions and answers and supported use of the ‘chat’ facility.

If attendees are in school during the training, they are encouraged to release themselves from any duties, or rotas they may be on in school, however, we appreciate and understand that unavoidable situations may pull you away for short periods of time.

7. Other Therapeutic Thinking support

What other Therapeutic Thinking support can schools access?

ISEND will provide the 3-day training sessions for all participants training to become a Therapeutic Thinking Tutor.

ISEND will also provide addition hours of strategic ESBAS Adviser time, free of charge, for each school that has a tutor.

ISEND will also host multiple network events for each cohort during the 12 months following their initial training.

ISEND will provide an online annual refresher session, free of charge, for every Therapeutic Thinking Tutor.

What cost and commitment are required?

ISEND will meet the cost of the 3-day training sessions, which were applicable will include the venue, lunch and refreshment for all participants training to become a Therapeutic Thinking Tutor.

ISEND will also host network events for each cohort during the 12 months following their initial training.

ISEND will provide an online annual refresher session, free of charge, for every Therapeutic Thinking Tutor.

As a school, when you complete the Application Form for a place on the training you are committing to the following:

 If you are unable to attend the course you are booked on, you may substitute, by prior arrangement and after notifying us, someone else from your organisation, N.B this representative should also be a member of the schools Senior Leadership Team.

If you are unable to attend, and cannot or do not wish to give the place to someone else in your organisation, we may be able to transfer your place onto another course that takes place within 12 months following the originally booked event.

Such a transfer will be on condition that we are informed in writing of your intentions four weeks prior to the originally booked event. Bookings can only be transferred once.

If you are unable to attend, and not in a position either to transfer your place to another person or to another event, then the following charges will apply:

Cost for cancellation purposes only : £200.00 per person

Cancellation charges:

PLEASE NOTE: Online bookings close on the Friday before a course start date, to book on a course running in the same week, please email or telephone 01273 336880

8. Network Meetings and Refresher Training

How do I book on to a Refresher Training Session?

Please email to request Refresher Training. You should aim to have a Refresher Training session every 12 months.   

I need more information and/or have further questions.

If you require any additional information please contact

How do I book a place on a Network meeting?

Network meetings will be held virtually throughout the year at various times to allow all trained tutors to attend. These are incredibly useful meetings where schools can share good, practice, problem solve, collaborate and feedback. During these, new developments and resources developed within Therapeutic Thinking and across the other Local Authorities are also explained, shared and disseminated.

Schools use these opportunities to work proactively with ESBAS to develop area specific support for all, such as Parent / carer sessions.

Network meetings for all trained tutors will be held on:

Thursday 17th November 2022 - 15:30-17:30

Tuesday 22nd November 2022 - 09:30-11:30

Thursday 9th March 2023 - 09:30-11:30

Tuesday 14th March 2023 - 15:30-17:30

Thursday 15th June 2023 - 15:30-17:30

Tuesday 20th June 2023 - 09:30-11:30

To attend a Network meeting, please email .