02. Emotional Containment

Emotional Containment to Facilitate Thinking

Bion (1984) made extensive clinical observations of mother-child interactions and focused particularly on the relationship between cognitive and emotional development.  The theory of thinking that he developed states that containment of emotional anxiety is required for thinking to take place and that this emotional containment must be provided by a ‘significant other’ – usually the parent/carer for a child.

Emotional Containment through Story Links

Story Links aims to provide emotional containment for the pupil over the course of the intervention. However, it is also important to consider the emotional needs of the parent as many parents of pupils at risk of exclusion will have personal experience of feeling anxious or upset in their dealings with schools. They may well feel insecure about their parenting skills and may also  have had a poor experience of school themselves. The only way that this, often the hard-to-access, group of parents will attend a 10-week programme is if they feel both relaxed and supported by the environment and professionals involved.

Emotional containment  is provided during the programme in the following ways:

  • A safe, welcoming & consistent environment
  • Regular sessions with good time keeping
  • Acknowledge  beginning and end of programme
  • Everyone has opportunity to say how they’re feeling
  • Story provides a container for ideas and feelings
  • Respect for the created story
  • Use of active listening.

    From the Dragon’s Mouth