How does it work?

Heads & Tails Clinical Psychology was developed to provide a treatment modality for children and young people who do not respond to more traditional room-based approaches of clinical psychology and struggle to engage in the therapeutic relationship.

Research suggests that 70% of clinical change happens due to the relationship between client and clinician (Rogers, 2012).

At Heads & Tails children are supported to regulate their nervous system and stress response which then allows them to move more comfortably into relationships, and towards this therapeutic change. 

For children and adolescents to learn how to effectively regulate their emotions they must first become attuned to them, once attuned they are able to experience a reduction in emotional distress.

Heads & Tails draws upon a wide range of evidence-based psychological treatment modalities and therapeutic approaches to establish individualised, clinical interventions that are supported by ‘in the moment experiences’ in a tranquil outdoor setting.

Heads & Tails is trauma informed and guided by neurobiological evidence. We recognise the importance of regulating the physical symptoms of the stress or flight response which are experienced in the body.

 

 

Heads & Tails treatment aims to move clients towards being able to regulate their emotions, think and act in a flexible way, and make and maintain meaningful relationships.

70
OF CHANGE
is due to the relationship that is developed with a client

A child’s developing brain can be impacted by negative or fearful experiences and relationships. This can lead to an impairment in the functioning of the nervous system, and the ability to accurately respond to their environment and others.

Humans are wired for connection, and our body is designed to observe, process and respond to the environment and interpret cues which indicate if we are safe. Heads & Tails provides a safe environment and clinical support for clients to effectively regulate their stress response through exposure, grounding, and mindfulness-based techniques to reduce emotional distress and undesirable behaviours, as well as increase resilience, improve well-being, and obtain a superior quality of life.

The outdoor, experiential setting at Heads & Tails provides a variety of safe and supported opportunities for clients to explore novel experiences and extend learning and understanding of themselves, others, and the world.

The horses at Heads & Tails play a role in both exposure to the stress response by creating vulnerability, as well as the regulation of the stress response through modelling. When horses detect a potential threat they display overt physical and behavioural changes which indicate stress/flight response, and for the safety and survival of their herd the engage in specific behaviours to help regulate the symptoms of flight response in their bodies to conserve energy.

 

Experiential activities also encourage the awareness of the self and others, promote psychological flexibility, as well as allow scope for creative clinical interventions which are meaningfully experienced – the expert clinical team at Heads & Tails encourage movement and tactile/sensory experience to promote a deeper learning; and closely monitor the treatment outcomes to ensure their clients achieve, transfer, maintain their skills.

Meet our Horses

The Referral Process

Heads & Tails works collaboratively with mental health professionals, GP’s, case workers, parents and carers.

All children and adolescents are assessed by our Clinical Psychologists to ensure the suitability of this modality and to establish a clear treatment plan.

What Happens in a Session?

During sessions, the Heads & Tails clinical team work with the client and the horses to explore, create, experiment and problem solve together.

Activities can be with a horse one on one, with several horses in our specially built indoor or outdoor spaces or within the entire herd.

Working with the Heads & Tails team, the clients can then explore, discuss and process their feelings, behaviours, and response-patterns.

The focus of Heads & Tails is dependent upon the needs of the client and can include issues such as non-verbal communication, responsibility, teamwork, self-regulation, expressing or containing emotions, body awareness, assertiveness, creative thinking, problem solving, relationships, respect, self-control, and confidence.

The clinical team design sessions to work with the presenting issues and concerns while providing the opportunity for safe exploration and growth.

Heads & Tails does not involve any mounted or riding based activities.

For Kids

Mindfulness and grounding strategies can assist children to improve their present moment awareness, awareness of the self and others, and better regulate their emotional experiences. The development of these skills can facilitate improvements in behavioural control and emotional well-being, and increases the child’s capacity for attention, concentration and learning.

Horses and Heads & Tails can support children in developing social skills, distress tolerance and self confidence.

For Teens

Leadership and problem solving techniques encourage psychological flexibility and behavioural adaptivity. These interventions can also assist teens to develop assertive communication and negotiation skills, as well as explore their emotional experience and expand the scope of their understanding of relationships. These skills promote safe personal boundaries, and help to develop conflict resolution which can help overcome hardships such as bullying.

For Adults

Behavioural interventions allow an opportunity to explore alternate perspective taking, test out predictions and cognitive bias through exposure to novel stimuli, and actualise self-potential. These techniques help to gather rich experiential evidence associated troublesome cognitions and/or emotional distress; cognitive learning is reinforced with a congruent emotional experience which aides and more meaningful learning experience – a powerful mechanism in facilitating acceptance and change in conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Overview

Clinical Psychologists are trained in the delivery of a range of evidence based techniques and therapies to treat mental health disorders. 

“They are skilled in applying psychological theory and scientific research to solve complex clinical psychological problems requiring individually tailored interventions.”    (Australian Psychological Society)

Heads & Tails is a cross theoretical approach to clinical psychology and a form of play therapy. Within sessions, children learn new psychological skills and practice them in real time.

Heads & Tails is:

  • Mindful (Awareness based)

  • Relational (Relationship/attachment based)

  • Trauma-informed(Neuroscience based)

  • Developmentally sensitive(understands the trajectory of ‘development’ in relationship)