The whole-person model: working with individuals and families

Posted on: 19th January 2017

We often talk about our whole-person approach to care – our belief that the difficulties faced by a person cannot be separated out from each other, as they often are in the established health and welfare system – but what does that look like in practice?


Kai’s story is a good example of how the Body & Soul model can target different areas of a person’s life to make a meaningful difference.


Kai is four years old and has been a member of Body & Soul from birth. She lives with her mother, father and 16-year-old brother in a two-bedroom flat.

When Kai started attending regularly over the summer, she was extremely shy, lacked confidence and self-esteem, and struggled to form relationships with her peers. Her mother explained that she exhibited these behaviours in other settings (like her nursery), but within the family home she was verbal, energetic and playful.


This pattern suggested that at least part of the cause of Kai’s reclusion lay in her lack of confidence. We suggested that she join our music therapy sessions as a way of addressing this. She has now attended five music therapy classes. For her first two sessions she was one-to-one with the therapist to enable her to begin building a relationship. Since then she has been with two other children to foster her language, help her build friendships and develop her confidence. We also ensured that a volunteer was available for one-to-one support throughout the regular service evening to assist her with social interactions and to prioritise her for sensory room visits with other children.

Kai is now beginning to join in more actively with many aspects of the service evening, choosing the activities she wishes to complete, smiling to indicate she wishes to be greeted by the group in ‘circle time’, playing alongside others and echoing some language used by familiar adults.

Meanwhile members of Body & Soul’s casework team have been working with her mother to secure more appropriate housing for the family. The family of four are currently living in a two-bed flat. Kai’s brother is 16 and on the autistic spectrum and therefore needs a room of his own, leaving no option but for Kai to sleep with her parents. We have explained the family’s entitlements and written a letter of support to highlight their situation.

Her mother commented on Kai’s fondness for Body & Soul: ‘This is the only other place she has spoken. It is so good to know that she can do that. I worry less for her to know even if she has a problem, Body & Soul will be there to help.’

There is much more for us to do for Kai and her family, but hopefully things are looking up.

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