A deep commitment to research and understanding

Mulberry Bush Research

Head of Research

Dr Caryn Onions

The Mulberry Bush is committed to researching therapeutic practice with children and families, particularly in residential and education settings.

It aims to develop and shape a research culture to influence practice within The Mulberry Bush and other schools, agencies and providers of care to vulnerable, traumatised children and their families.

We collaborate with researchers in academic and other childcare settings.

Research projects

Longitudinal Scoping Project

Researcher - Heather Price, David Jones, Felicitas Roth, Katie Rix, Caryn Onions

What happens after leaving residential childcare? Research into young people’s experiences and outcomes post-placement at the Mulberry ... Read more

Developing methodologies for tracking the social and emotional development of traumatised children

Researcher - Lucy Roberts PhD studentship at The University of Sussex

I am delighted to have been awarded the Mulberry Bush Studentship 2022. My research will further our understanding of how to assess ... Read more

The Beacon Pilot Project Learning Evaluation

Researcher - Lucy Roberts: Research Fellow (Psychology) and Prof Robin Banerjee, Professor of Developmental Psychology, Head of School (Psychology), University of Sussex

The aim of this research was to establish and embed a sustainable school approach to the social and emotional development, mental ... Read more

An evidence based guide to opening a successful secondary school nurture group

Researcher - David Colley and Ruth Seymour

This project aimed to explore what was needed to run a successful nurture group in a secondary school. It examined what a secondary ... Read more

The Mulberry Bush Nurturing Schools Project: The impact of embedding whole school nurturing practices including a nurture group on children’s progress and wellbeing and staff wellbeing.

Researcher - David Colley

The Mulberry Bush Organisation and Nurture UK has supported five primary schools in Oxfordshire to embed Nurturing practices at a ... Read more

Emotional Security in the Classroom project

Researcher - David Colley, Caryn Onions, Matt Wareham and Jess Hooper.

Emotional security (ES) as defined by the Boxall Profile, is a classroom trait that can be observed through a child’s investment in ... Read more

‘The paradox of living with the unknown’. The MBS: an exploration of how a therapeutic approach to looking after emotionally traumatised children affects their capacity to develop relationships, and to understand and regulate their feelings and behaviour.

Researcher - Dave Roberts

The aim of this case study research was to determine how the therapeutic approach of the Mulberry Bush School affected the children, and how the school’s group-work model related to children’s ability to develop relationships. Read more

‘Stewards of a Process’: Towards an Understanding of the Reflective Culture at The Mulberry Bush

Researcher - Heather Price, Joanne Brown, Jane Herd and David Jones

The aim of the project was to research practitioners' perspectives on whether, and how, the ‘reflective practice’ model at The Mulberry Bush supported individuals, teams and the organisation in meeting its task.  Read more

Attachment, Trauma and Play

Researcher - Steve Farnfield

Exploring changes in a) children’s ability to resolve trauma and loss, b) the quality and coherence of their play and c) their attachment security. Read more

The Long-Term Impact of Therapeutic Residential Care Programmes. A Literature Review for Mulberry Bush School.

Researcher - Thomas Dooner and Richard James

This literature review made some important observations on the current landscape of the research on long-term impacts of therapeutic residential care.  Read more

‘This Shared Parenting is Difficult to get Your Head Around’: Experiences of Parents and Carers During Their Child’s First Year at a Residential Therapeutic Special School: A Qualitative Study.

Researcher - Caryn Onions

The aim was to investigate the impact on parents and carers of having a child placed at The Mulberry Bush, including the relationship between parents, carers and the school. Read more

Towards an Understanding of Therapeutic Provision at the MBS

Researcher - Heather Price, Jane Herd, David Jones and Alice Sampson The University of East London

This study followed on from the IOE project and aimed to get to the heart of what happens at the Mulberry Bush and to explore how the therapeutic environment works. Read more

Child Outcomes at the MBS: A Quantitative Study

Researcher - Leslie Gutman and John Vorhaus. Institute of Education, UCL

The quantitative study followed the outcomes of children during their time at the Mulberry Bush in order to focus on the changes in children’s socio-emotional development, behaviour, educational achievement and attachment whilst at the MBS. Read more

MBS Success Project: Sharing understanding of children’s communication or emotionally successful schooling.

Researcher - Ray Burrows, Catherine Mattachine-Lee, Colin Lutman and Dave Roberts

The project’s aim was to see how established methods of working at The Mulberry Bush School could be transferred to mainstream primary schools in order to improve their management of challenging behaviour.  Read more

Stakeholder perspectives about the MBS

Researcher - Louise Harriss, Paul Moli & Jane Barlow. The University of Warwick

This research aimed to explore the perspectives of staff, parents/carers and children regarding the benefits and disadvantages of attending a residential school for children with severe emotional and behavioural problems. Twenty three in depth interviews were carried out with 5 pupils, 6 parents/carers and 12 staff.  Read more

Our Journal

The Therapeutic Care Journal (The TCJ) is the voice of the International Centre for
Therapeutic Care and is open to anyone working with children and young people.
This bi-monthly publication contains articles, information and news and is shared via email.

You can subscribe by visiting www.thetcj.org

If you would like to find out more about joining the International Centre community, or if you have any questions about our work please get in touch by emailing [email protected]

The International Centre Research Group

Established in 2013m The International Centre Research Group (ICRG) the group meets bi – annually to share current research into therapeutic practice in residential and foster care and other settings.

The International Centre for Therapeutic Care

The International Centre for Therapeutic Care is a global alliance promoting Therapeutic Childcare, Social Pedagogy and Trauma Informed Practice amongst all those working with children, young people, their families and communities made vulnerable by childhood trauma.

The Social and Emotional Adjustment Scale

The SEA Scale is a social and emotional evaluation tool.

It assesses need and evaluates the characteristics of individual children and where they are relationally.

Our organisation

Our school

The heart of the charity’s practice expertise is The Mulberry Bush School in Standlake, Oxfordshire.


Training, consultation and support to schools, care services and organisations working with challenging or vulnerable children, their families and communities.

Our research

The Mulberry Bush is committed to research in therapeutic residential and foster care.


MB3 (The Mulberry Bush Third Space) is the National Centre for Reflective Practice.

Impact report

Follow our work and share in our success stories by reading our latest Impact Report.