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WHAT CHILDREN AND TEENAGERS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LIFE IN ORDER TO LIVE IT WELL  (Mental Health Programmes in Schools and Psycho-education) including Babywatching

Course Cost:
June 15, 2019 10:00 am until June 15, 2019 5:00 pm

CCMH, 2-18 Britannia Row, London N1 8PA, UK


WHAT CHILDREN AND TEENAGERS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LIFE IN ORDER TO LIVE IT WELL  (Mental Health Programmes in Schools and Psycho-education) including Babywatching


About the conference 

Presenters will explore vital aspects of psychology and neuroscience, which together form a key knowledge base for professionals to help young people to live life well, to ‘suffer well’ and rise again if they hit rock bottom. Such a knowledge base will also empower young people to make science and psychology-informed decisions, instead of living their lives blighted by painful unresolved emotions, failed relationships and harming their bodies.

Whilst current PSHE mental health programmes (Personal, Social and Health Education) admirably address such issues as sexual consent, safety around use of social media, how to stand up to bullies, and self-image, the intense emotions that smash people against the rocks, so to speak, drive people to hurt each other or themselves, leave them living with unbearable emotional pain or wanting to die, often remain unaddressed. If these huge hormonal forces that hijack body, mind and brain are referred to in PSHE programmes, this tends to be on a level of ‘managing difficult feelings.’

For most people, this simply doesn’t work. If you try to ‘manage’ your panic attacks you will still keep having panic attacks. If you are given a PSHE worksheet to boost your self–esteem, when deep down you ‘know’ you are just scum, after the task, you will still think you are scum. The neurochemical and physiological forces of anxiety, depression, shame, social defeat, rejection, self-loathing etc. are just too strong.

Presenters will also explore how evidence-based psycho-education and psychologically and science based PHSE programmes can impact positively on wider society. If on the other hand such knowledge remains unavailable to young people, (coupled with a continued lack of trauma and mental health-informed schools and communities), we are likely to continue to see such UK statistics as:  

  • Every year 70 million people take anti-depressants (there are only 65 million people in the UK: discrepancy due to repeat prescriptions) (NHS Digital: Prescriptions Dispensed in the Community - Statistics for England, 2006-2016)  
  • The biggest cause of death for males under 50 is suicide (Office for National Statistics (2015) Suicides in the United Kingdom)
  • 70 percent of unmarried couples break up within the first year. 42 percent of marriages end in divorce.
  • One in two teenagers experience their parents splitting up. Without psychological help, they are then 75 percent more likely than those whose parents stay together, to fail at school, end up without qualifications, claim benefits, have mental health problems (far worse than losing a parent to bereavement). (Centre for Social Justice, Fractured Families)
  • One woman dies every three days due to domestic abuse. Two million people suffer domestic abuse every year (Crime Survey for England and Wales, 2017)
  • Without psychological help, a child who has had several bad things happen to her/him, is highly vulnerable to mental health issues, physical ill-health and early death (Felitti and Anda (2006) ACE Study (17,000 people study)

If any other school subject, e.g. chemistry or maths, failed to use a sound knowledge base there would rightly be an outcry. In contrast among some circles, there tends to be a belief that all you need to be able to deliver PSHE is good worksheets and a bit of popular neuroscience. In contrast, presenters on this conference will argue that, until mental health programmes in schools draw sufficiently on 50 years of peer-reviewed psychological studies about the human condition and over 30 years of research in affective neuroscience, we can hope for very little personal and societal change from the current model of PSHE.


Babywatching is a highly effective classroom-based programme that starts at the beginning of a child’s school journey. It was founded on the work of Dr Henri Parens (aggression theory) and Dr Karl-Heinz Brisch (attachment theory) and aims to reduce anxiety and aggression and increase sensitivity and empathy.

It is deceptively simple and helps children:

  • Understand and name their emotions, including the difficult, uncomfortable emotions, without shame
  • Learn to self-regulate, without shame
  • Learn to relate positively to others and appreciate diversity
  • Promotes positive relational change
  • Develop good social and communication skills

These benefits have been shown to last beyond the time frame of the project and to extend to other areas of a child’s life. Research has been undertaken with Queen Mary University of London in 2017 confirming that the children in the intervention group showed reduced emotional problems and increased levels of social competences.

How it works: A parent or grandparent and young baby visit a class of children once a week. A Group Leader helps the children observe and wonder about the experience as, over two terms, the children watch the Attachment relationship between parent and child unfold and develop.

More information:

Speakers for Babywatching

Michele Crooks: CEO of Babywatching UK, and a B.A.S.E.®Babywatching Trainer, Mentor and Group Leader. Michele is an experienced therapist in primary education. She uses Babywatching as an addition to her therapeutic practice in primary schools, delivering its benefits to whole classes of children.

Paul Cutler: UKCP registered child psychotherapist who has worked with children, families and adults for nearly 30 years in education, health and social services. Paul is currently working in both mainstream and special education settings with children and young people aged 3-19 years as well as with families via multi-family group work.

Griselda Kellie-Smith: co-founder of Babywatching UK, and trained as a Group Leader, Mentor and Trainer. She has worked with children for over 35 years in special education, then as a UKCP registered child and adult psychotherapist in post adoption therapeutic family work, private practice with children and parents and as a clinical supervisor.

Benefits from attending the day

  • Through fascinating film footage and deeply moving case material, learn how to present science and psychology-informed PSHE (mental health) to young people on such vital topics as living with your emotional brain, why love hurts, the pain of sexual jealousy, rejection, hopelessness, blocked trust, why people want to live and why they want to die, ageing well, parenting heaven and parenting hell, the grip of addictions, how not to split up/divorce, attachment ruptures, flying together, finding your ‘grit’, passion, and lots more
  • Listen to the research evidence showing that psycho-education can significantly reduce mental health problems and dramatically improve the ability of couples, families and friends to resolve conflict with dignity, and love in peace not torment
  • Understand who should impart this knowledge to young people: (do-able training implications for non-psychologists)
  • Understand how to move from the anxiety of ‘pseudo-competency’ in delivering psychological and neuroscience-based PSHE mental health to competence.
  • Understand what aspects of prevention and alleviation of human suffering cannot be addressed effectively through didactic learning and require instead relational change through individual face-to-face contact time with an emotionally-available adult in the school or other environment

Centre for Child Mental Health and transgender 

CCMH presents a range of views and different perspectives on child mental health - always trying to hold the tension of the opposites.  

At CCMH we adhere to guidance on working with young people, from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. We do not think that presenters providing a space to explore one’s gender and to think through the enormity and possible permanent consequences of medical interventions precludes being utterly supportive and validating of a young person. In our presentations, speakers hold this balance at all times with validating our young clients whilst also exploring the meaning of their lived experiences, keeping in mind the fact that they are developing, and so their views may evolve and/or change. We intend in 2020 to offer presentations at CCMH on working alongside LGBT clients. 

CCMH does not take ’sides’ in debates but is offering itself as a space where all issues in child mental health can be debated and this debate is key. We frequently have presenters offering different viewpoints on the same subject. As our delegates work on the front line with young clients whose identity is in formation we need to be able to hold a ‘not knowing' position that affirms the client but also provide a space where they can debate and reflect for themselves. We are also aware of the importance of reflecting on the impact of traumatic memories held unconsciously in the body, the role of unconscious homophobia and the repression of emerging sexual feelings in adolescence. In this sense presenters never pathologise clients on the basis of their gender, rather they offer a space to question and debate as we would any issue in their development.


Dr Margot Sunderland

margot sunderland

Director of Education and Training at The Centre for Child Mental Health, London. Honorary Visiting Fellow at London Metropolitan University, Associate member of The Royal College of Medicine and Child Psychotherapist with over 30 years’ experience of working with children and teenagers. Author of over 20 books in the field of child mental health. What Every Parent Needs to Know (Dorling Kindersley) won First Prize in the British Medical Association Medical Book awards 2007 (Popular Medicine section). Originator of ‘Helping Where it Hurts’, a therapy programme for troubled children in North London schools.

For more details about Dr Margot Sunderland:

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Clare Williams


Senior Consultant and Trainer in Trauma Informed Practice and Emotional Health. Educational Psychotherapist (MA in Therapeutic Education) Caspari. Senior Trauma Informed Trainer for Trauma Informed schools UK. Previously Mental Health Practitioner for CAMHS, leading a programme of training on Emotional well being, attachment and mental health across Dorset. Consultant for the Primary Strategy Team in Dorset, coordinating Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) and later as the Emotional well being Adviser for the Borough of Poole. Advisory teacher in Tanzania, East Africa. Advisor for an East London Behaviour and Advisory Team. Led a number of LA and multi-agency initiatives and has written and created PSHE materials for schools. Has a range of experience in training and consultative work having been a facilitator and trainer at National Conferences and a consultant trainer for the Institute of Education, London. Manager for Chesil Emotional Health and Behaviour Service, a team of professionals working to support children, families and schools, and created Thrive Education Zones that operated as Thrive nurture bases for children at risk of exclusion and supported families and schools to enable the children to return to mainstream provision. The project also worked with parents to support them and to enable them to build their own self-esteem in supporting their children.

Robert Withers


Psychotherapist and Jungian analyst. Robert is a training analyst and lecturer at the Society of Analytical Psychology. He practices at the Rock Clinic in Brighton, which he co-founded. He is also visiting senior lecturer in mind body medicine at inter-university college Graz. His 2015 paper The Seventh Penis, which described some of the difficulties of working psychotherapeutically with people who identify as trans, jointly won the Michael Fordham prize for that year. Other publications on the subject include his chapter The View from the Consulting Room; in the 2018 book ‘Transgender Children and Young People; Born in Your Own Body’ and Robert Withers: Clinical Commentary in the Journal of Child Psychotherapy Jan 2018. Robert's talk will be based on his latest paper Be Careful What You Wish For; Trans-identification and the evasion of psychological distress.

Transgender Children and Young People



CCMH, 2-18 Britannia Row, London N1 8PA, UK