More than 1,500 children have benefitted from a unique trauma-informed service that has been designed by young people to meet their mental health needs.

Kibble’s Specialist Intervention Services (SIS) uses a range of therapies including play and art therapy to offer alternative methods of expression, helping children overcome the complex emotions and coping mechanisms which have developed after experiencing abuse and trauma.

The service, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year, has been designed by young people at Kibble who have shaped and developed everything from the types of therapy offered and the setting it is delivered, to the portfolio of staff within the team.

The holistic and dynamic therapeutic service is based on trauma-informed therapy and helps around 75 children and young people a year with an individual approach to meet the needs of those who have experienced trauma.

Now, in line with the theme for Children’s Mental Health Week: My Voice Matters, the SIS team are working with young people at Kibble to review how the service can continue to grow and expand to offer therapeutic support for more young people with the potential to open the service to those outside of the organisation.

Claire McCartney, Kibble’s operations manager, joined the organisation in 2003 and led the development of SIS. Claire said: “It’s incredible to think that more than 20 years have passed since I started at Kibble and developed the Specialist Intervention Services.

“The service has changed so much but that’s testament to our constant commitment to achieving our central objective, which has always remained the same – to help children recover from trauma and live as fulfilling a life as possible.

“When you consider that most children in our care have experienced complex trauma through emotional neglect or physical abuse – sometimes at the hands of their carers – qualifying ‘success’ can be nuanced.

“If you don’t have that safety and security early on, how you see the world is greatly impacted further down the line and putting words to emotions is very difficult.

“At SIS, something as simple as seeing a child smile for the first time after weeks of therapy can be a massive breakthrough, and it’s our job to understand that and give them a new experience of relationships that can be healthy and safe.”

SIS provides a space for young people to present their feelings through expression. This can initially be through art or play but this begins to build a therapeutic relationship from a sense of emotional containment and helps them open-up about their feelings. From there, the team of qualified therapists and psychologists at Kibble can offer further support.

Untangling the impact of trauma at a young age is crucial to creating a pathway to recovery and SIS has developed over the past two decades to provide new ways for young people to express themselves. Over that time, Kibble itself has also developed, expanding its operations and services to respond to changing demands.

Photo: Jim Gillespie, Kibble CEO

Jim Gillespie, Kibble CEO, said: “Helping 1,500 children through this specialised service is an achievement we are proud of and at Kibble we are always continuing to expand and adapt our service provision to meet the growing demand of support children and young people in our sector need. Reaching this milestone within SIS serves as a reflection to the young people we have been able to support and acts as a marker for the continued growth and evolution of this vital service.”

SIS is just one of a range of supports available at Kibble where every day we strive to create a safe and nurturing environment, allowing young people to express themselves and embark on a journey of healing and recovery. Kibble remains committed to our overall mission of transforming lives and fostering hope for a brighter future.

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