Assessment Consultation Therapy (ACT) is a specialist therapeutic service. We work with children and young people, aged 8 to 18, who present with issues around harmful sexualised behaviour.
It is important to recognise that sometimes we can do things without thinking. This can sometimes get us in to trouble and sometimes even involve the Police.
It is difficult to understand why we do what we do sometimes, especially when it involves sexualised behaviour. At ACT we try and help you understand your thoughts, feelings and actions and support you manage the concerning behaviour. Our aim is to help and support you, not judge you.
If you are a young person
How can ACT help me?
It is important to remember that you are not alone. Even though you may feel like you are the only person who has ever behaved this way.
At ACT we think that the best way you can get help is to work with someone who will understand you and will not be shocked or embarrassed by what you have to say. We hope to help you understand the problem so that you can prevent it from happening again. Then, you can begin to lead a life where you will start to feel better about yourself. It might not always be easy, but we will treat you with respect and kindness and try to help you move on.
If you are worried about your own sexualised behaviour please talk to an appropriate adult (parent, carer, teacher, social worker) who can make contact with us.
What will happen if I go to ACT for support?
We understand it is not easy to talk to someone you barely know about some painful and difficult things. To do so takes a lot of bravery, it is important that you can trust someone. We will work with you, your family and/or carers, and other professionals to help understand what has happened and work out a way to move on. You may come to see us at the office or talk to us over a video call. We hope you will be able to build a relationship with us where you will feel able to talk about difficult things.
We believe that the support of your parents and/or carers is crucial. We will also talk to them, so you do not feel you are on your own with your problem.
Without help your problem may not go away, so we hope that if you try your best to work with us. You will begin to learn to deal with some very difficult feelings and go on to lead a healthy life.
If you are a parent
It is important to remember that there are lots of different reasons a child or young person displays sexual behaviour. It is normal for you to have lots of difficult and confusing thoughts and feelings. It is normal to feel disbelief, anxiety, shock, that there has been a mistake or that the child who has made the allegation is lying or exaggerating.
A lot of parents may feel too embarrassed or shocked to go to family or friends for help. They may feel anxious about anyone close to them who has small children for fear that their child may be a risk to them. These feelings that parents experience are natural and common.
The overriding need parents say they have is for information and understanding of what happened, why, and if it will happen again.
The first step is for parents to talk to their child. This may not be an easy task; all sorts of emotions get in the way of an honest and straightforward conversation. Parents can be angry because they feel hurt and confused, and children in turn can be ashamed and afraid. This often means that they deny everything or refuse to talk. This can lead to parents feeling more confused, wanting to stand by their child, but also feeling repelled by the possibility of what their child has done.
It is normal to have these feelings and thoughts, but we hope that if you work with us we will be able to support you to move on.
If you are a parent or carer who is worried about your child's sexualised behaviour, please don't hesitate to contact us.
What will happen if my child goes to ACT for support?
Consultation: a meeting for parents/carers and professionals to explore the harmful sexual behaviour in more detail.
Consultation to the Network: a meeting for professionals only, to explore the behaviour. This is often held when a child or young person is displaying these behaviours in school.
AIM3: Assessment, Intervention, Moving On, is the assessment model that we use. It helps us gain an understanding of the behaviour and think about how best to move forward. We will meet with the child or young person to explore their thoughts and feelings about the behaviour.
Post Intervention: If the AIM3 shows that your child would benefit from ongoing support, we can offer direct work for you and your child.
Specialist Reviews: Sometimes the Police request an AIM3 based on paperwork, rather than us meeting with the child. This is only for specific situations and helps inform them about the child's needs.
Other options: It may be ongoing work with ACT is not needed following the consultation or AIM3. In these situations, we will make suggestions for other support we feel would benefit your child.
Think U Know have advice and resources on how to approach and deal with concerns about what children may be doing online. This includes advice about challenging harmful sexual attitudes and how to start a conversation to support positive sexual behaviour.
Childnet have advice for parents and carers to keep children safe online.
The Marie Collins Foundation have a lots of information about online safety, including a leaflet for parents about how to help their child/children.
The London Grid for Learning have detailed advice and resources on various issues such as online safety, apps, and how to report concerns.
If you would like to find out more about ACT please contact the team.
Telephone: 01483 519606