Angela Greenwood (She/Her)

Educational Psychotherapist (retired), n/a

About Angela Greenwood

Arising out of my Senco experience I trained as a Caspari Educational Psychotherapist when I became aware of children who were not learning because they had 'too much on their minds'. As an Educational Psychotherapist, as well as offering clinical work to children in schools, I also offered clinical supervision to counsellors and school staff working 'at the sharp end'; and together with Educational Psychologist Dr. Tina Axup, I facilitated support groups for counsellors, Nurture group Staff and Special needs staff.  .

I worked for 7 years in a project offering psychotherapy to children affected by domestic abuse, alongside their mothers receiving their own counselling and support from Women's Aid, with links into both Education and Women's aid. As part of this project I offered both staff support and training.   

Subsequently I worked as a psychotherapist, consultant, trainer and staff supervisor at a PRU for 3 years, working where I saw first-hand the difference an understanding, nurturing relationship-based approach could make to both children and staff.

For many years I offered Inset training to school staff including an 8 session powerpoint course funded by Southend Borough Council for their school staff.  

When I retired I put all my learning and training experience into a book: "Understanding, nurturing and working effectively with vulnerable children in schools". Routledge 2020, a handbook for school staff working with puzzling and challenging children.  

It offers a comprehensive and accessible exploration of the difficulties faced by teachers and schools from at-risk and disaffected children, including repeated trauma and insecure attachment patterns. It describes how a thoughtful ‘relationship based’ approach (which sees problematic repeated behaviours as unconscious communications that can be thought about and responded to from a position of understanding, rather than purely managed or drugged away) can both alleviate such difficulties, and offer a ‘second chance attachment’ experience. This experience of being thought and ‘wondered’ about by a trusted adult can slowly enable the even most vulnerable pupils to discover it might be safe to let down their all-consuming defenses a little; thus freeing them to feel secure enough to begin to learn.     

it includes teacher friendly theory, for example understanding the effects of trauma on the brain, on the inner world and on behaviour; and of dysfunctional attachment patterns and unconscious processes which happen all the time in school.          

It also includes:

  • Practical suggestions in note form – making them easy to use, refer to and assimilate
  • Many case examples, and helpful ways to think together about puzzling children and situations
  • A wealth of ideas for ways forward, including differentiated responses to children in the light of their particular patterns, developmental stages and unmet needs.

Over the last year I have completed a series of posters for school staff and trainers around these themes, which I hope will become useful resources for teacher and Senco trainers, and reminders for school staff struggling with challenging children. They are available to download and print out for free on my website: www.angelagreenwood.net

Area(s) of Focus

Alternative Provision Units (SEN/EBD schools and PRUs) Consultancy Early Learning Primary School

Job Title

Consultant Education Psychologist Therapist

Area(s) of Interest

ADHD Behaviour Primary Social, emotional and mental health difficulties

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Feb 22, 2024

'I was interested in your research Sal. Maybe I could add something to your interesting and, for someone who likes to encourage authenticity and inner confidence in children, not so surprising findings. I am not a researcher but a (now retired) educational psychotherapist who, as well as offering individual psychotherapy to children, also worked as a supervisor and a trainer of teachers and school staff.  

For some years I worked as a consultant at a pupil referral unit, and I saw first hand how the children and young people there were often very conflicted about praise. Sometimes they craved it, but frequently it would trigger them into negative reactivity and even 'acting out', as they 'railed against' the erupting thoughts that they 'weren't good', that what they had done was actually rubbish, that they were stupid and bad etc. - thoughts which were not on their mind before the 'praise' triggered them. Praise is after all a judgement - albeit a positive one, and can alert self judgements if we are feeling sensitive - although for most people this is over-ridden by the encouragement and uplift it brings.

In my trainings with staff working with insecure and vulnerable children I would therefore be careful to alert participants to how more vulnerable children can easily 'turn praise upside down', and how taking an interest in the details of something they are doing, and/or noticing and gently acknowledging observable signs of growth can be less threatening, and even help them reflect on their own inner growth.

Eg:    " Of course I'll help you Sam. I was just thinking that I think that's the first time you've asked me for help. Its good to ask for help when we need it. I think you're growing stronger. What do you think?"

angelagreenwood.net

Feb 16, 2024

Thank you for your contribution on self regulation Hannah. It is such an important skill to develop and happens naturally through attuned trusted support and relationships, and through understanding support until they begin to internalise their own capacities. Of course most of us get this as we grow up with caring available help, and talking things through when we need it, and weaning as we grow stronger, from our secure families. But some children sadly have the opposite experience. The good news is that secure nurturing and understanding schools can slowly shift this dysfunction through understanding, thoughtful, caring support and relationships. Enough sensitive and properly trained school staff can make a big difference, as they often see such children every day, but they need skilled support, as such children will certainly challenge them at times. It is certainly wonderful to see children grow stronger with thoughtful help and responsiveness, and firm humanely set boundaries. 

In relation to regulation you may like to check out my posters (viewable on my website (www.angelagreenwood.net) - eg: posters: 2,3, 4, 17 & 21 on the effects of unsupported trauma, posters 5 &6 on responding to children’s behavioural communications, posters 11,12 & 23 on the helpfulness of containing communication, poster 13 on preventing and managing outbursts (when children need help with regulation) poster 14 on the foundational importance of a secure base to ease the need for dysregulation, poster 24 on the helpfulness of a nurture base for children who struggle with regulation etc.
There is also a lot more detail in my 2020 book on the subject eg: in chapter (3) on trauma, on p.106-119 on the chaotic disorganised child who typically cannot self regulate and needs relationship-based help to manage this and to slowly internalise such capacity, and on p.138-143 on offering such children a 'second-chance attachment experience’.

Also on my website Safe to Learn sessions 3, 5, and 6 may give the best summary.

With best wishes for all your wonderful endeavours.
Angela