COVID 19 UPDATE: Avocet House and Turnstone House remain open throughout the Covid 19 epidemic, all necessary precautions are being taken to ensure the safety of our young people, staff and visitors.  Referrals continue to be accepted and any enquiries should be referred to the Principal, Vicki Collings.

Download our Covid 19 Action Plan for further information and for details of our remote education offer.


SES Kite commenced on 4 September 2020 providing a new provision for post 18 year olds.

Planned Environment Therapy

The Therapeutic Milieu:  Planned Environment Therapy

This is a terminology created by early pioneer workers with children with SEBD.  Arguments may still remain about the absolute definition of this terminology but the following key factors are from the writings of David Wills.  His descriptions can be seen in the ethos, atmosphere and practice at Avocet and Turnstone House. 

  • In Environment Therapy the most important part of the environment is the worker.  The type of person should be someone who:
    1.  has feeling as well as intellect
    2. is a person with integrity
    3. shows empathy and care
    4. shows respect for others
    5. as a role model enlarges and enriches others who associate with them
    6. has firm (but not rigid) moral principles
    7. is courteous and gentle in dealings with others
    8. is a social person
  • The relationships are between person and person first and client and worker second
  • The environment releases the child to be himself – his real self – thus revealing issues
  • The child is responded to in a warm and welcoming way at all times even when negative transference is taking place (i.e. the child transfers to the adult feelings he has or had for one or other of his parents, or for other people in his life – this can be both positive and negative)
  • Positive transference can be particularly effective in building relationships and helping the child progress
  • It is the environment therapy that is planned not just the environment
  • The worker is not left alone to identify or plan responses to the child’s needs but is surrounded by others who support identification, interpretation and planning
  • Workers should be supported to deal with the impact of the behaviours on themselves to lessen the chance of their judgement being clouded or their attitude warped
  • Where a young person seeks maternal or paternal care or support (e.g. play, stories at bedtime, curled up beside an adult watching TV, etc) it is given unconditionally whatever their age.  Wills uses the following quote to illustrate the thinking:

Make children feel that they are loved, but make them understand also that the love of parents is very different from that of friends. Convince them that parental affection will always be there waiting for them, whatever their faults, because the tender affection of parents withstands every test. But make them recognize that the affection of friends is the result of esteem, confidence and choice. Children must learn that friendship is based on merit and that it is won or lost according as they are strong or weak, devoted to others or egotistically centred on self.”

In PET the worker provides the former, the community the latter.

  • The aim is to create a kind of microcosm of ordinary society with its social and economic obligations, its social and economic pressures and its responsibilities to support oneself and the community
  • The method is to foster those parts of the personality that are whole, to strengthen the psyche to cope with/manage its own conflicts
  • There is a belief that all living things have a tendency towards wholeness, to self-correct, an inbuilt therapeutic drive – and PET removes the impediments to the natural tendency to self-heal and by strengthening the “whole” elements it facilitates a natural therapeutic tendency
  • The community demands of its members mature and rational behaviour and brings about a natural pressure to that end
  • PET accepts no “us and them” within the community – e.g. everyone is addressed by their first name irrespective of any hierarchy
  • There is some form of democratic machinery for the expression of opinion in general and the management of the day to day affairs of the community – shared responsibility
  • A third component of PET along with the psychological and social is the educational influence, and the combining of all three into an holistic whole.  It is concerned with learning rather than teaching; it is concerned with all those things that a person needs to fulfill themselves – different in each individual case
  • It is concerned with the fullest possible creative expression – arts, crafts, skills, techniques
  • It is about making sure that there is opportunity to discover talent and then practice it