Child and family

Here to help

Welcome. You are probably here because you are experiencing some difficulty in your family life and now you have made the first brave step in doing something to improve your circumstances.  As psychologists we understand that parents’ worries can be overwhelming. It might be difficult to discuss or evenunderstand, and your child may not agree that they are struggling. Here at Conatus Child Psychology we will do all we can to help.

Therapeutic Work

Our initial focus is on building a good relationship with you and your child that encourages trust and open communication. We believe that nobody knows your child better than you, and your input into our therapeutic work is key to moving forward and dealing with the presenting difficulties.

These may include:
  • Anxiety: panic attacks: phobias including school phobia or refusal
  • Stress Management and the ability to cope
  • Great negativity and low self-worth (often described as depression)
  • Emotional difficulties including anger and low mood
  • Obsessions and compulsions
  • Psychosomatic issues including stress related pain, such as stomach and headaches
  • Aggressive behaviour
  • Addictive Behaviours (e.g substance abuse)
  • Experience of assault or abuse
  • Opposition to parental requests or authority
  • Significant life events such as death, divorce, Covid 19, being involved in a car crash, illness
  • Specific Intense fears and anxieties; e.g. fear of an animal or insect, vomiting phobia
  • Sexuality Issues including gender identity
  • Significant transitions such as moving home or school, blending of families, adoption.
  • Relationship difficulties:e.g. between siblings, step-family tensions and conflicts;
  • Self regulation issues (e.g. sleeping and eating difficulties, toileting difficulties – when medical factors have been assessed and/or excluded)
  • Neurodevelopmental: poor concentration, impulse control, working memory, social skills and social behaviour
Please contact us if you have a concern that does not appear in the list above.

Our Approach... wholly ethical. We will only begin or continue working with a family when our input is likely to be effective, and when the presented problem is within our areas of speciality and expertise. We aim to make a difference as soon as possible - our family appointment average for non-complex problems over the last three years is between 7 and 8 appointments. A mantra among our clinicians is ‘only offer another appointment when there is a purpose’.

Our experience enables the three-way partnership between child, parent and psychologist to work in a systematic way to develop a shared understanding that, in turn, brings about a platform which support changes towards desired outcomes.

All our psychologists have acquired significant experience within NHS CAMHS, most at consultant level, and have trained in multiple therapeutic models both in their doctoral clinical psychology training and through post-qualification development. In addition, all staff are supported to continue to update and further develop their expertise and knowledge.

We have clinicians trained and experienced in:
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
  • Systemic Family Therapy
  • Non-Violent Resistance (NVR)
  • Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
  • Narrative Therapy
  • Theraplay-Informed Practice
  • Therapeutic Parenting
  • Attachment Focused Family Therapy
  • Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy

How we work

After you contact Conatus, a set of procedures begin that provide you with the right information to decide if you want to take things further:-
  • Our friendly admin team will ensure that they have all the relevant information to take to Dr Alastair Barnett (Clinical Director) who oversees practice decisions for all cases.Alastair determines, through the information provided, who seems likely to be the most appropriate clinician for each referral. This is usually based upon experience, speciality, training or/and availability. Sometimes a member of the clinical team will get in touch for further information that may be needed to help the decision process.
  • Following the offer of an appointment, the admin team will send a selection of questionnaires and registration forms that we ask you to complete and send back to us, prior to the first meeting. If you have any relevant reports, medical or educational notes etc, then sharing copies of these will be extremely helpful. The psychologist will review the information and consider how to prepare the consultation with the aim of “hit the ground running” at the first meetings.
  • Your first appointment will last approximately 80 -90 minutes, either on site at Conatus in Kenilworth, or via video conferencing. Usually this is for the parent/s or carer/s and the young person, although we are happy to see anyone else you might think could add a useful view - such as grandparent, sibling etc. It is totally acceptable to come to the first meeting without your child should you want this just ask at the time of booking your first appointment.
  • The first meeting will cover the difficulties being experienced, the family history, relevant circumstances and life events, and other useful information such as the child’s development to date. The preliminary questionnaires and checklists we ask families to complete are often useful in guiding the conversation in a focused way.
The psychologist will firstly meet with everyone and may then come together with individuals or a smaller number of family members and always with the aim of gathering everyone’s views and hence a broad understanding of the concerns. Towards the end of the meeting the psychologist will discuss their understanding of how things have come to be and how a treatment plan might look, going forward. This is known most commonly as sharing their with the family. Other things you may want to think about can be found in the following leaflet.

Understanding formulation for young people service user leaflet

Sessions may initially be offered closer together (i.e. once a week/ fortnight/month) dependent on need, and less frequently as change starts to be seen.Occasionally, we have seen families only once or twice, although generally we ask for families to prepare for up to twelve sessions.

These sessions are only offered following discussion with you.Families can stop their therapy at any point; we do not ask for a contract or a minimum sign-up.

Following the first appointment the psychologist will write to you with a summary letter of the formulation and the treatment plan.This letter will be sent to you and, for good practice, to your child’s GP. If you do not want your GP notified, just make this clear on the written consent to contact form and confirm this at the first meeting. To clarify, Conatus offers a strictly confidential service, except in issues of child safeguarding.The letter can also be shared with other interested parties such as school, paediatrician, etc.; of course, this is up to you.
  • Most families are offered a follow-up appointment. These are between 55 and 65 minutes duration. The content and format of intervention appointments depends on the difficulties being addressed and the best ways to tackle them. Sometimes this will be for your child individually, for parents only and for parts or all the family together. Additionally, by agreement your psychologist may want to discuss with other professionals who are involved or have been in the past, or to discuss your child with their school; these ‘indirect’ activities will be essential parts of an intervention.
  • Please understand each child and family, and their circumstances, are different and each intervention is designed accordingly. These are guidelines to help you understand our procedures and they could change dependent on need and suitability for you and your child. However, this will always be with your agreement.

So, what happens now?

We will be delighted to hear from you, either directly by phone or through electronic message via our contact page

If you call us, we will ask you for your contact details, extra information such as which school/college your child attends.  Most importantly, we ask about the issues you are facing and the types of behaviour your child is presenting with; the more information we receive the better informed we are to make the right decision about your care.  After initial screening by  a senior Clinician and following the return of consent and information documents, we will offer you an appointment with the most appropriate clinician, at a time most convenient to you during our working hours.

During Covid 19 pandemic we may see you in clinic where we adhere to social distancing and undertake all precautions necessary, or via video conferencing such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom etc. You will be informed of this when you book your appointment, although these may change in the light of changes to our own and government best practice protocols.

More than a third of those referred to child and adolescent mental health services in 2019 received no treatment; another third waited more than a year.

Anne Longfield, former children’s commissioner for England - Guardian 12 April 2021

We are delighted with the results, as are our families, its been so successful working with Conatus.

Birmingham Children’s Trust

We experienced good support which made change a lot easier for us.

Jones Family

Helped me understand my worries and where they were coming from.

Male - 15 yrs
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