Bozena Merrick, MSc, UKCP, CPC, is the founder of Terapia and has over thirty-five years of experience in working with children, adolescents, adults, and groups as a psychotherapist, counsellor, clinical supervisor, trainer, lecturer, and group facilitator.
Di Gammage, MA, UKCP, is trained as a dramatherapist and play therapist and has taught at Terapia since 2006 on the play therapy, residential, dramatherapy, and working with children and young people who have experienced sexual abuse modules.
Bozena and Di’s latest book, ‘One Tree, Many Branches: The Practice of Integrative Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy’ celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the pioneering child and adolescent psychotherapy and counselling training organisation Terapia and the achievements of its trainees , tutors, and staff, who provide highly specialised counselling, psychotherapy, and bespoke mental health services for young people, children, parents, and families.
The seed to create this book was planted during the Terapia Summer School of 2021. This annual event offers an introduction to those curious and new to the world of integrative child and adolescent psychotherapy. In the five days, participants learn of the theories and research that underpin the practice, engage in experiential exercises, and hear case material from practitioners. As one of us (Di) has been a facilitator of this course for many years, she often marvelled at the colleagues’ richness of practice (many branches) despite all of them completing the same training at Terapia (one tree). This diversity of the practice of integrative child and adolescent psychotherapists, evolving to meet the psychological needs of young people in today’s society, needed to be shared beyond the walls of Terapia.
We met with our contributors in regular ‘book clinics’ to offer support and guidance for their emerging writing. A community of authors was formed. What transpired was the common thread of joint practice between therapist and child and the healing that became possible through this relationship. We did not set out to provide a theoretical ‘how to’ book (although most trainees believe they would welcome such a book with open hands!) as each therapeutic journey with each child is a unique one, not a formula to follow. We encouraged our authors to tell the stories that emerged through the work; the narratives co-created between child and therapist. The therapist not placing themselves in the role of expert rather as co-explorer, witness and often advocate, for the young person.
These integrative child and adolescent psychotherapists are forging new and untrodden ground. Often, they discovered a paucity of research in their chosen field. They ask many questions, and the stories are ongoing. We wanted the collection to demystify integrative child and adolescent psychotherapy. To see how, for many practitioners, the conventional consulting room is no longer relevant for many of our young people today and so, the therapist needs to apply ingenuity and imagination in a wider context.
We hope the psychotherapists’ humility, respect, and passion for the children is conveyed through their words. More than anything, we set out to emphasise what is at the core of each child psychotherapist’s approach regardless of their client group and the context within which they meet: the heart and passion for the work and the therapeutic relationship created with the child.
We envisage the readership to include not only trainee and practising child psychotherapists, but also those who work with young people in collaborative capacities such as social workers, teachers, teaching assistants, and psychologists. Our ambition would be for the book to reach the hands of policy-makers responsible for political decisions that directly and indirectly affect young people’s lives. We hope the reader will feel moved and inspired by this work.
Bozena Merrick and Di Gammage