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West Sussex’s Therapeutic Thinking Aims

  • To develop a common language and a joint approach that is followed by all professionals in West Sussex.
  • To support schools and settings with developing a therapeutic approach to behaviour.
  • To establish understanding of the inseparable link between teaching, learning and behaviour.
  • To improve staff confidence and safety.
  • To support the inclusion of those with difficult or dangerous behaviours.
  • To reduce and eliminate exclusions.
  • To support consistency within services.
  • To support Senior Leadership Teams in the development of quality policy and planning.

Therapeutic Thinking principles

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.  All children and young people within the dynamic should be given as many positive experiences as possible in order to create more individual positive feelings.

The Therapeutic Thinking approach helps senior leaders to develop policies and plans that support staff in implementing a therapeutic approach.  These policies provide a clear and unambiguous ‘job description’ for all staff to follow. 

The Therapeutic Thinking approach challenges the concepts of ‘bribes and sanctions’ frequently used to manage behaviour, which often results in children and young people only following instructions because they will ‘get something’ for doing so.  Instead, the approach seeks to foster the independence of children and young people by teaching them how to develop internal discipline. The aim is that they are always able to behave pro socially, without the need for adults to manage this.

Therapeutic Thinking provides various tools to help staff analyse behaviour and put plans in place to support the child or young person.  Links are made to the new Ofsted Framework as well as to the DfE guidance: Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools 2018.

Last updated 16 August 2021

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