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Developing specialist services: Sensory based approaches

At Cygnet Health Care a growing number of our occupational therapists within our mental health services are embarking on post-graduate training in sensory integration in order to enhance the range of therapeutic approaches available to service users.

A high number of service users within mental health services experience difficulties in relation to sensory input and being able to access such approaches has often let them make sense of, and begin to work on, difficulties they have experienced for years. Sensory strategies in particular are seeing increasing use at a number of our sites in response to a call for more “bottom up” approaches to regulation to support readiness for other areas of intervention.

At one such site, Cygnet Delfryn in Mold, various levels of sensory interventions are offered, dependent on need, under the supervision of an advanced SI practitioner. All service users are able to access a sensory strategies programme delivered by our occupational therapists which aims to increase capacity and skills for self-regulation and guides development of sensory plans and kits.

These skills are then used to increase readiness for other areas of intervention such as managing anxiety in relation to accessing the community or maintaining arousal levels that support engagement in valued activities. For those for whom it is clinically relevant a full sensory integration assessment is completed and more specialised intervention including ASI © (Ayres Sensory Integration) therapy have also been provided.

Individuals within our services have commented that sensory approaches have helped to increase their feeling of agency within their recovery and provided them with an approach which over time increases their independence and supports their transition into the community.

Rebecca Matson, Clinical Lead OT, based at Cygnet Delfryn said, “Sensory approaches have become a central part of our work with service users. Our sensory needs impact on every area of our lives and helping individuals to understand and respond to these can be the key to moving forward in their recovery.”

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