Often young people who come to a Kedleston residential school have experienced extreme trauma in their past. Here Head of Care Kate Halliday explains how the school’s supportive and therapeutic environment has helped one young person to move beyond the traumatic circumstances she had experienced.
Clara* came to us when she was in her mid-teenage years and stayed with us for a little over 18 months. She had experienced a number of traumatic incidents in her life and this had left her experienced mental ill-health, post-traumatic stress disorder and with thoughts of harming herself.
She had attempted to self-medicate through using drugs and alcohol and had become involved with the gang culture. Her relationship with her parents had broken down and it was suspected she had fallen victim to child sexual exploitation.
Clara unsurprisingly experienced flashbacks and panic attacks and initially needed lots of support along with strong boundaries and structure to help her know what to expect and to feel safe and secure.
She needed support to help her build appropriate relationships and interests alongside maintaining and enjoying family contact. Her key staff team worked extremely closely with Clara to support her in times of crisis. This helped her realise that there would always be someone there to help her and listen, which made her feel safe.
Alongside these key relationships Clara also had clinical and therapeutic input from the in-house psychology team alongside DBT support which is ingrained across the school. A series of realistic rewards and incentives were also introduced.
As she felt safer and more secure, Clara began to make progress. She gained a place at a local further education college and staff supported her to travel initially. However, Clara was soon independently travelling to and from college and on home visits.
Further independence skills were nurtured through her living in the school’s flat and honing general life skills including shopping, managing her budgets, cleaning, cooking and other household chores.
Clara completed her college course, returned home and is now employed within the NHS helping others.
Her success is a testament to the hard work and dedication she put into her time at High Peak and to the patient and tailored support her team were able to offer her here at the school, both within education and care.