Social context

NB Names altered for anonymity

Children and young people with SEMH may experience a wide range of social and emotional difficulties which manifest themselves in many ways. These may include becoming withdrawn or isolated, as well as displaying challenging, disruptive or disturbing behaviour. These behaviours may reflect underlying mental health difficulties such as anxiety or depression etc or physical symptoms that are medically unexplained.

“One in six children between 5 and 16 were identified as having a probable mental health problem in July 2021, a huge increase from one in nine in 2017.  That’s five children in every classroom”

“83% of young people with mental health needs agreed that the coronavirus pandemic had made their mental health worse”

Source: Young Minds


  • Kit's confidence around the horses has grown and helped him to be more confident around the TSOC Team and working in a new environment.
  • As Kit's confidence has improved, so have his communication skills
  • Improvement in confidence has led to a greater ability to express his feelings and therefore to manage his emotions more appropriately.
  • Kit is beginning to dismantle some of his barriers to learning
  • Kit is able to reflect on his achievements and his ability to transfer the learning from the TSOC sessions into school.

Background to case

Kit is a Year 8 school referral. At school, he is a poor attendee, has low self-esteem and shows less than satisfactory commitment to learning.
They note him to have weak verbal and nonverbal abilities and as struggling to maintain social interactions. He is identified as having problems regulating emotions and following social rules and expectations.

The school asked The Seeds of Change to work with all areas of his development, so we are firstly concentrating on increasing his self-esteem and confidence and improving social and communication skills. Kit has attended five half day sessions to date.

Process at The Seeds of Change

Kit’s older sibling has attended The Seeds of Change (TSOC) and, consequently, Kit arrived with clear expectations of how horses could help him.
He quickly built a sound relationship with his coach and the horses.

So far, he has 100% attendance at TSOC and consistently demonstrates keenness and commitment to being here. Kit has talked about struggling to concentrate at school, so the TSOC approach has been used to unpick some of why that might be and to help him develop strategies to manage school better.

Kit does not appear to experience communication issues at TSOC and has to date, been very sociable and open about his thoughts, feelings and observations.

When he shared he had become stuck with maths at school, his coach recognised he seemed to be fixating part of his issue on lack of consistent 1:1 classroom support. His perception of the situation appeared to have become a barrier. Using the horses he was able to recognise that in class, he was being given the tools and space to try independently. Kit arrived at this conclusion himself, having supported his pony through an activity where the school scenario was able to be recreated. He noticed how he was helping his pony more intently to begin with and was eventually able to let the pony take the lead. He was able to apply transfer this principle to his own situation and could see how it was possible for him to try to replicate what he had observed his horse doing.

Kit’s confidence is growing as he develops strategies that can support him with his horse and also back at school. He regularly records his confidence scores starting at 1 and finishing at 10 after his sessions.

Kit says that he "loves TSOC", and has said on several different weeks,"this is the best session ever". His mother is very pleased with his progress and has informed his coach that he cannot wait to get here each week and that he is so much happier for being here. His school has fed back that Kit speaks very positively about his time with The Seeds of Change and they have observed a positive impact on his confidence.