Dr Margot Sunderland has written/co-written, designed/co-designed and lectured on many validated training courses in the psychological treatment of children. These include a Masters Degree in Integrative Child Psychotherapy, Diploma in Child Counselling, Certificate in Child Counselling Skills using the Arts, Masters Degree in Emotional Literacy for Children, Certificate in Parent–Child Therapy. The courses, all part-time, are run by The Institute for Arts in Therapy and Education

Please see below for details of some of the courses


(Universty of East London Award)  12 weekend days over two terms

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The aim of the course is to enable people working in schools to alleviate the suffering and support the learning of troubled pupils. Funding cuts in CAMHS and increasing pressure on social services has impacted significantly on schools, leaving teachers to deal directly with increasing numbers of mentally unwell children, without having the skills to do so, and often without having the support of a mental health agency to take referrals. This is leaving thousands of children and teenagers with blighted lives. Yet it has been proved that early intervention is key. (Report: Missed Opportunities: Children and Young People's Mental Health. Centre for Mental Health, London 2016).


Aims and Objectives

The course aims to train school staff to be mental health literate, and trauma informed practitioners, who are able to:

Direct work with children and teenagers

  • Relate to vulnerable children in ways that alleviate their suffering, support their learning and make them feel cared for and appreciated
  • Know how to respond to children who are in distress/ stress states in ways that help them to emotionally regulate, feel psychologically safe and develop the capacity to handle stress well over time
  • Relate with children in ways that enhance their self-esteem, confidence and develop their capacity for help-seeking
  • Know how to listen and empathise when children want to talk about painful issues, and help them reflect and resolve
  • Develop an in depth understanding of what it is like for a child to live with each of the most common adverse childhood experiences (ACE study, Felitti and Anda 2014), then find the right words and prosody to voice their empathy
  • Provide children who feel ‘mad’ or ‘bad’ with the relevant psychological and neuroscientific understandings to alleviate negative self-referencing and develop coherent narrative for what has happened to them
  • Employ strategies for early intervention know limits of competence and refer on to other agencies, when these are available

Work with school staff

  • Enable staff to think psychologically with pupils, (reflecting rather than reacting) and make empathic responses, instead of just asking questions or giving lectures on how to behave
  • Support staff to relate to vulnerable children in ways that engender trust and enable them to feel psychologically safe and cared for in the school environment
  • Enable staff to engage with vulnerable children so they have ‘felt experience’ of the delights and riches of being in relationship Educate staff to understand when challenging behaviour is a trauma trigger and how to calm children when such triggers lead to explosive outbursts
  • Support staff to understand the brain science and psychology of trauma and mental health problems and how these can impact on learning, body, mind, brain and the ability to trust and relate
  • Work to increase the protective factors in the school culture to prevent adverse childhood experiences from becoming mental and physical health problems
  • Educate staff about what vulnerable children need, so they don’t suffer misdiagnosis and trauma in the school environment Support staff to prevent them develop secondary trauma and leave the profession

Course Director: Dr Margot Sunderland

More information: www.traumainformedschools.co.uk

Certificate / Diploma in Parent-Child Therapy

Certificate in Parent-Child Therapy: Two-term course weekend days only (12 days)

Diploma in Parent-Child Therapy: Three-term course. Term one and two comprise the taught component of the course. Term three: Independent learning. This term is designed for the student to complete the required supervised clinical hours and dissertation leading to Diploma in Parent Child Therapy. 


This course is designed to train professionals in education, social work and the caring professions to:

  • Help parents and children to talk to each other about the things that matter
  • Improve the quality of parent-child, parent-teenager interactions on a daily basis
  • Empower parents with lovely ways of relating to their child
  • Enable parents to be more empathic, attuned and playful
  • Enable parents to feel more fulfilled in their parental role

Aims and Objectives

So many parenting courses offer skills to address a child’s challenging behaviour. This course is very different. It is about enabling parents and children to have the best possible relationship with each other.

An enormous body of research shows that the quality of "Parent-Child" relationships is of paramount importance for a child’s and teenager’s long-term health and well being. Yet many parents and children never sit down to talk about the good things and difficult things in their relationship. Moreover, as with couple relationships, parent-child relationships can get stuck in patterns of aggression, conflict or emotional distancing. Sometimes, big events in the family cause attachment ruptures, leaving parent and/or child reeling and unable to re-connect.

When things are going wrong, safe short-term intervention from professionals can do so much. Parents and children can be helped to talk to each other about the things that matter, sharing those unspoken resentments, appreciations, hopes, fears and hurts. In addition, the entire family culture can be changed from one of ongoing relational battle or emotional distance, to a deep enjoyment of, and mutual respect for, each other.

More information: http://artspsychotherapy.org/therapy-courses/family-therapy/

Certificate in Therapeutic Play (University of East London approved course)  

(Part-time weekend day programme, over two terms)

About the Course
This course is designed for people whose work already involves playing with children (0 to 10 years old) but who want to be able to offer therapeutic play to the children who need it. These are children with challenging behaviour, or those who are anxious, angry, unhappy, withdrawn, hyperactive or who have learning difficulties.

On the course participants will experience a wide range of therapeutic play techniques including sandplay, puppetry, directive and non-directive play interventions. They will also learn how to enhance the therapeutic potential of messy play, construction play, make-believe play. Participants will also have the opportunity to enhance their own creativity, imagination, spontaneity, playfulness using a wide range of art forms and play based interventions. They will also learn about the developmental stages of play, the psychology and brain science of what makes play therapeutic, how play can heal troubled minds and enhance social and emotional development.

More information: http://artspsychotherapy.org/play-therapy/certificate-in-therapeutic-play


Margot's Books

Dr Margot Sunderland (Award-winning Author and Expert in Child Development, Child Psychology, Child Psychotherapy and Parenting).

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Forthcoming Public Lectures


Saturday 18 May 2019 (10.00-17.00) 


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Saturday 15 June 2019 (10.00-17.00) 

WHAT CHILDREN AND TEENAGERS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LIFE IN ORDER TO LIVE IT WELL (Mental Health Programmes in Schools and Psycho-education) 

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Saturday 6 July 2019 (10:00-17.00) 


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Contact Information

2-18 Britannia Row
London N1 8PA

Tel: 0207 354 2913

Please note: due to major time constraints Margot regrets she is unable to offer a personal advisory service on parenting or child development issues.

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