In a nutshell, what makes “Hand and Sky” different from other therapies or educational programs is that the focus is on the context or "Holding frame"- the familiar objects and the familiar people coming together each week at the same time- that enable the trusted relationships to develop. The method of using Energetic models of Health (Therapeutic Touch) and Creative approaches, (Music, Movement and Story-Telling), together with Developmental and Attachment theories, makes the approach comprehensive and thorough. At a practical level it means a wide range of children with different levels of need and communication can be reached by tuning in and listening to subtle non-verbal levels of responsiveness and engagement in them such as breathing, muscle tone, facial expression, gesture and sound-making. Relationship is at the heart of the program.
Training for School Carers (LSAs)
The project is about supporting and nurturing the Caregivers. We work out of schools so that we can reach children together with their Learning Support Assistants (LSAs). These school Carers traditionally build up strong connections in very practical and immediate ways with the children and in this sense are natural attachment figures when the children are at school.
How to frame and celebrate the role of school Carers and their role in following the child’s development through different stages of their school life? I.e. early years setting to reception primary school and beyond.
1. The program begins small and builds up trusted relationships and networks of support in small steps. First the child, Practitioner and Carer meet weekly in a small familiar setting. This can be helpful in gradually building up joint attention in the child so that they feel witnessed and met by two supportive and co-operative adults who are learning together with the child, a unique way of meeting this particular child.
2. There is a Cultural Event at the end of the program where children, staff and parents from the two participating schools meet to practice the work together and enjoy live music. Children often feel supported and safe in this transition to a bigger forum, and even curious and intrigued to see other children involved with these familiar practices. Parents report that they value this cultural event where the child is at the Center and is deeply witnessed just as they are.
4.The model is rolled out into the School curriculum so that Carers can begin to practice running sessions on their own.