Place2Be’s ‘Mental Health Champions’

25 January 2019

Today, Forest School is hosting Place2Be’s ‘Mental Health Champions’ Training, enabling school leaders to draw on the organisation’s 20 years’ direct experience of working in schools to help them become ‘mentally healthy’ school communities.

To find out more about Place2Be’s unique partnership with Forest school – now entering its third year – I spent some time with Senior Clinical Consultant and our Place2Be Project Manager Lisa-Marie Serindag.

Lisa-Marie is an experienced Humanistic Integrative Therapist – which is a holistic approach that recognises the quality of the therapeutic relationship and rather than favouring one specific approach it favours several – and when I asked her why she pursued a career delivering therapy she replied very simply, “It is my purpose.”

To better understand how Forest pupils in need of support benefit from her wealth of experience and the wider Place2Be provision at Forest, I asked Lisa-Marie more specifically about how Place2Be contributes to Forest School’s commitment to pupil and family wellbeing.


Jane: What is Place2Be?

Lisa-Marie:  Place2Be at Forest School delivers full-time, 5-day per week counselling comprising of 1-2-1 weekly counselling, Place2Think (reflection time for teaching staff), Place2Talk (drop-in counselling service available to all Y3-Y13s) and Parent Partnership sessions which offers 5-7 support sessions to the families of pupils receiving 1-2-1  therapy.  This provision is complemented by the counselling offered by Sue Harris 2 –days per week who also provides ad hoc drop-in sessions and counselling for staff.

Jane: That sounds very comprehensive

Lisa-Marie:  It is and, to put this into context, a young person who is referred to CAMHS may wait six months or longer to receive any therapy, whilst Forest pupils can access help on an ad hoc basis and would only need to wait a matter of 6-8 days for a place2talk counselling appointment and 3-4 weeks for intensive 1-2-1 counselling, which may then continue for anything up to a year or more depending on need.  This is invaluable when so often, early intervention is key.

Jane: How does the partnership between Place2Be and Forest School work?

Lisa-Marie:  I manage the entire service such as the referrals, the admin, child and family assessments, mid-way assessments, parent contact, parent consultations, telephone calls, emergency referrals, place2talk, parent partnership sessions, place2think sessions as well as acting as the Clinical Supervisor to a team of up to ten Place2Be counsellors who deliver the majority of the 1-2-1 counselling and are provided clinical supervision on my license as a Clinical Supervisor.  I also offer therapy myself for the more serious or complicated cases as well as to parents of the children receiving 1-2-1 counselling.

Jane: So what would the process be for a pupil to access 1-2-1 counselling with Place2Be?

Lisa-Marie: Usually the pupil’s head of section would refer them directly to me (at this stage parents are also informed for all pupils aged under 16yrs) supported by further completed paperwork from their Head of House and Tutor.  There is then a 90 minute consultation with the pupil’s parents, followed by a clinical assessment to establish their needs.

Jane: Can you tell us anything about the sorts of things that pupils come to talk to you about?

Lisa-Marie:  We always say to them – no matter how big or small the issue may be – if it is problem to you, it’s a problem so please come and share. The issues vary and can range from being very severe to minor.

Jane: What would you say to a pupil who feels that they would like to talk to someone?

Lisa-Marie: Come in and sit down…


Thank you Lisa-Marie and the Place2Be team for all the work that you do with our pupils and their families to support their wellbeing – we look forward to many more years of successful partnership.