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Therapeutic Interventions – Raising Awareness Within (RAW)


Raising Awareness Within


The personality behind the RAW programme

Shelley has over 22 years of experience engaging young people from inner city areas in positive activity and intensive programmes.
Shelley has worked in various forums from front line delivery to management within youth offending teams. She has worked for both local community based and nationwide programmes.

Seeing the opportunity of redundancy as a great positive in 2009, Shelley took the risk of following her heart and her passion. She wanted to fuse together her years of experience engaging and managing services for young people with her interest and experience of holistic care.

This gave way to create opportunities for young people that were different to the ‘mainstream’ services she had been involved in over the last 20 years…. There was a vision of bringing mindfulness and creative programmes into the ’everyday’ for these young people.
To allow them to recognise the positive power they had within them, to ignite this power with passionate and inspiring workshops and then encourage them to express this creatively and make positive changes.

Shelley has developed a dynamic way to introduce meditation and creative programmes to the young people that are vibrant, interesting and engaging
The only way to ensure positive and sustainable outcomes!!
Using strength of personality and personal experiences that make the interventions relevant and real to each individual

The RAW programmes organic journey

Shelley initially introduced this way of working in Newham with participants on her Youth Inclusion Programme. They were a selected group that following assessment displayed risk factors of substance misuse, violent street crime and were all NEET

Following regular engagement in meditation and acupuncture, they were enabled to engage in other positive activities the project offered – they also recruited other members to the therapies describing it as ‘really cool’ They reported on using the tools and skills outside of the group to reduce their substance misuse intake

Understanding the positive impact, Shelley took these workshops and courses into schools, YOT’s, hostels and homes She was contracted by both statutory and voluntary organisations to assist them in meeting their outcomes such as reducing anxiety and depression, increasing emotional literacy, improving quality of life outcomes, and working on personal responsibility, resilience and self awareness.

Shelley also deliverers personal programmes to private clients within the family home, engaging young people and their parents / carers to support them through times of transition and emotional turmoil

Programme of RAW therapies

There is a menu of RAW interventions that can be used either alongside each other or in isolation.

Various interventions may be used in a group setting – giving an additional dynamic to the outcomes and interaction from participants

Each therapy would be matched to the individual or group dependant on risk and protective factors as identified through assessment

A RAW evaluation process measures distance travelled by the young person and is used during interventions to support motivation and engagement

RAW uses a positive reinforcement method that is solution focused. Providing the foundation of promoting and celebrating achievements and instilling a positive thought process as a foundation of reflection and learning

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

The cognitive behavioural therapy process is intrinsic to many of the
RAW interventions in both one-one and group settings

Focusing on the present and having the ability to address issues that effect self, others and the world around them.

Through the process of CBT, each young person will have the opportunity to develop their self awareness, resilience and ability to make change to their problematic thinking through the use of problem solving skills, goal setting and challenging distorted thought processes.

Young people are encouraged to keep a diary to record their own thoughts and developments. The diary takes the form of writing, imagery and collage.

CBT will also combine with the mindfulness sessions; allowing each individual to embrace the processes in a holistic way which will cross both physical and emotional development

RAW interventions are delivered in an engaging way and are able to respond and encourage engagement through the use of other skills such as visual arts and yoga – making CBT an inclusive and accessible intervention

Benefits include
Empowering young people to become independent in their solutions
Encouraging the opportunity to face issues positively and constructively
Effective treatment for :
– Addiction
– Misplaced anger
– Anxiety
– Depression
– Self harming


Mindfulness is most commonly conceptualised as involving attention to and awareness of the present moment, and non-judgemental acceptance. Awareness of the present involves observing thoughts, feelings, and sensations by focusing one’s attention on the current moment. While attending to the present, mindfulness also entails a stance of acceptance, or willingness to experience an array of thoughts and emotions without judgement.
It is seen to be effective with trauma survivors to deal with anxiety and hyper-arousal
Benefits include: Awareness and acceptance of trauma-related thoughts and feelings may serve as an indirect mechanism of cognitive-affective exposure. This may be especially useful for individuals with PTSD, as it may help decrease experiential avoidance, reduce arousal, and foster emotion regulation. For instance, among trauma-exposed individuals evaluated at a single time point, greater levels of acting with awareness and accepting without judgement were associated with lower levels of post-traumatic stress symptoms. Regular mindfulness practice has also been shown to decrease physiological arousal alongside other supportive treatments, Mindfulness and visualisations are effective in decreasing symptoms for many individuals who suffer from PTSD. This intervention requires the client to recall traumatic events in a controlled fashion. For the last decade, exposure to and processing of trauma-related thoughts, feelings, and memories have been considered important components of effective treatment for PTSD. However, a significant proportion of sufferers either do not seek help, drop out of treatment, refuse these treatments, or are not substantially helped by them.
Combining mindfulness & other skills to strengthen emotion regulation may improve outcomes in the following ways:
Engagement: Mindfulness may appeal to clients who do not pursue statutory or ”evidence-based” treatments or cannot tolerate them. Mindfulness practice may improve symptoms and it may also help such clients become engaged with a therapist or treatment process.
Preparation: Mindfulness practice could be introduced prior to treatment. Learning to observe internal reactions without judgement and to accept feelings, sensations, and thoughts as they arise might usefully prepare patients to tolerate the unpleasant emotions that trauma processing elicits.
Less rumination: Mindfulness could be encouraged throughout other interventions. Increased awareness of trauma-related re-experiencing symptoms may allow patients to break a ruminative cycle by gaining some distance from trauma-related intrusive thoughts and feelings. It may foster acceptance rather than avoidance.
Compliance. Clients using mindfulness skills during treatment may be better able to persevere through trauma processing and benefit more fully from trauma-focused treatments.

Guided Visualisation

Using imagery and a soothing guided voice, there can be positive impact ability to relax and feel calm. There are various techniques such as ‘mental rehearsals’ to prepare and believe in an ideal outcome, or recalling past situations and mentally re-living alternative responses and outcomes. This is proven to be extremely empowering for clients and can assist in the ‘shift’ that is creating avoidance or rumination.
Guided visualisations are also beneficial in increasing well being by improvement of mood and self esteem – evidenced by less self deprecating statements and increased ability to engage in mainstream services
Whenever we have stressors our nervous system becomes activated which is the the fight or flight part of the system. Ways of releasing this involve being able to sooth ourselves and release feelings of sadness, anger, hurt and fear associated with the stress and trauma. Traumatic experiences get stuck in the body because we have been unable to relax and process it in a manageable way. This cycle ends up creating more stress in the system. Thus we need a way of discharging the muscular tension, the chemical build-up, the cardiovascular changes, and the hyper-vigilant mental/perceptual state of the fight or flight response. Relaxation and visualisation can be a good way to begin to release some of this energy and deal with the experience of anxiety.
Learning to be in a relaxed state is an important part of the healing process because there can be greater connection with experience and allow tolerance to some of the more painful aspects of traumatic experiences.
Guided relaxation and visualisations are a good tool to practice in addition to other therapeutic interventions

Auricular Acupuncture (NADA protocol)

The use of acupuncture for the treatment of drug and alcohol dependency is a recent development in the history of this ancient art. For centuries, Asian cultures have placed needles in precise locations on the body to relieve pain and treat disease. Only since 1972, when a Hong Kong neurosurgeon, discovered that acupuncture could alleviate the symptoms of drug withdrawal, has this method been used for detoxification and relapse prevention.

In more recent years, other areas of treatment that incorporate the NADA protocol as an effective intervention are: stress, anxiety management & panic disorder, trauma recovery in communities following major catastrophes, aiding recovery from some psychiatric medications dependency, relaxation in young people with behavioural disorders, smoking cessation and ameliorating side effects from drug treatment in cancer. The protocol is known to have a calming effect on the central nervous system.
The NADA protocol consists of the insertion of five, small, fine, sterile stainless steel needles under the surface of the skin on specific sites in the outer ear. The recipients sit quietly in a group setting for up to 45 minutes, relaxing. These five points are standard points for the treatment of substance misuse and anxiety management

Auricular acupuncture is shown to benefit clients in:
Reduction of craving for the substance including prescription drugs
A ‘clearer mind’ which promotes receptive rational thinking and therefore enhances the benefits of counselling and the group experience
Reduction of withdrawal symptoms
Improved sleep patterns
Improvement of health problems which often accompany long term alcohol and drug misuse
Marked relaxation, a feeling of well-being

Seated Acupressure & Indian Head Massage

Being offered in a sensitive manner – Empowering clients to have control over shared space and safe touch.

This is a treatment that can balance the need for SAFE physical contact and encouraged to verbalise emotions and feelings throughout the treatment.

It is a fully clothed treatment carried out on site in a lightweight portable chair.
The treatment does not use any oils or aromatherapy
It follows ancient methods of working upon meridian lines to relax and relieve physical and emotional build up – often symptoms of stress and anxiety

A sequence works from the head, to shoulders, arms and back. Following a consultation, any area may be omitted to ensure client comfort and safety.

The treatment may be offered as a one-one intervention (following risk assessment and assessment of site) or may be part of a group intervention in pairs (with peers or parent / child)

The focus is equally on the discussion of safe touch, feelings of personal space and ability to comfortably say no as is the benefits of the therapy which include:

Reduced stress levels
Increased blood flow
Combats insomnia
Releases physical tension

Creative Well-being

Arts and well-being are now recognised as being great partners!
The Visual Arts
Visual Arts offer a powerful way to explore experiences, communicate perspectives, connect with others, bridge differences, and inspire dialogue on key issues in a manner that draws people in.

Engaging with the arts is also a creative and safe way to cope with stress, illness, trauma, addiction and other concerns.
Outcomes include:
Express thoughts and emotions that are problematic to verbalise
Lower stress and anxiety
Relax and feel calmer and happier
Explore and find meaning in life experiences
Connect with the deeper self,
Form new connections with others
Create something unique that gives a sense of pleasure and accomplishment

Alongside other kinetic workshops and courses, the arts provide a valuable tool that assists engagement and participation. It can also provide a way to leave a positive mark within communities and projects – inspiring others to become involved and raising self esteem & confidence and offering opportunity to a sense of belonging

This artistic process is woven into ‘The Living Values’ course which creatively explores responsibility, relationships, confidence, love, communication,freedom, and unity.
The living values education programme is delivered world-wide, embracing offenders, street children, and communities in extreme poverty and emotional need.

There is an option to register the site as an ‘arts award centre’ where young people will gain a bronze/silver/gold arts award which is a recognised qualification assessed by the arts council


With the use of various poses, yoga becomes a flexible tool for engagement.
Building and strengthening group relationships it encourages safe physical contact, peer support, communication and self awareness.

As a regular session, yoga forms a key part of routine and enhances both emotional and physical health.

Whilst strengthening the muscles and increasing flexibility, there is opportunity for each individual to focus on their own development and challenge themselves in a safe and supported way.

Benefits include

Develop body awareness
Learn how to use body strength in a positive way
Build concentration
Awareness of benefits of breath
An alternative to ‘tuning out’ through electronic devises