Towards an Understanding of Therapeutic Provision at the MBS

Brief Description – 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. The researchers carried out over 30 naturalistic observations, interviewed 7 children towards the end of their stay, 13 staff working face to face with the children, 8 managers and 7 individuals who have referred children. 

Key Findings 

  • The Mulberry Bush had clear principles that translated into an effective whole-school practice approach. 
  • Privacy and emotional intensity in the family home had been experienced as potentially threatening for the children, so the open, public nature of group life at the school was a protection for all concerned.
  • When relationships were shared and relating was very ‘public’, the researchers found that paradoxically, closer one-to-one moments were more safely found.
  • Staff were trained to stay close to children’s feelings. 
  • Staff built trusting relationships and worked hard to empathise with the children’s present and past experiences.

Publication – Price, H., Jones, D., Herd, J. and Sampson, A. (2018). Between love and behaviour management: the psychodynamic reflective milieu at the Mulberry Bush School. Journal of Social Work Practice, Routledge, 32: 4: 391–407. 

Details of this project can also be found on the Kudos website here.

Download a copy of the full report here.

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

Time span
2015 - 2017

The Mulberry Bush Organisation