BUSS for Occupational Therapists with SI Training

Introduction by Sarah Lloyd

It’s a huge honour to have colleagues interested in this way of working and I thank you for your interest. As an OT, I think that OTs are perfectly placed to become BUSS practitioners, integrating our skills and expertise in all aspects of a child’s development, physical, emotional and social. 

However, as OTs it’s been my experience that people often work as either a mental health OT or within a medical setting, and we develop our skills accordingly. When I first started to develop the BUSS model I’d been working in CAMHS for 20 years and hadn’t thought much about motor development in that time. What a huge learning curve I had ahead of me!

If, like me, you’re an OT who has honed their practise in mental health but motor development and sensory integration feels a distant memory, then I’d suggest that the 4 stage model of training would best suit your needs. But if you’re an OT who is working with children with developmental trauma and who also has sensory integration training, then this training is for you!

I’ve worked with fantastically skilled SALT and Physiotherapists through my career and if you have clinical experience of working with children and families who have experienced developmental trauma as well as sensory integration training, then I’d be delighted to welcome you on this training.

What I’ve done is to develop a 3 day training that is the equivalent to completing levels one and two, which is 7 days training in total. I’m assuming that we’ll need to spend much less time on the foundations of movement. It also assumes a good level of therapeutic skill in working with families in a containing and empowering way (additional clinical training like Developmental Dyadic Psychotherapy and theraplay are useful). I do feel that it’ll be important to have time to explore how BUSS shares things with but also how it differs from ways you might already be working.  As OTs I think that we’re adept in calling on a range of theoretical and practical frameworks and ideas to enhance our practise and meet the needs of individual children and families that we’re working with. While I hope that BUSS can become one of these for you, I’d suggest that it’ll be important too, as you become familiar with this model, to use it in its pure form, rather than taking bits from BUSS and adding them to other ways that you might have of working. BUSS is an intervention in it’s own right, and it’s helpful to learn to practise it in that way.

This bespoke training takes you to the level of a BUSS Informed Practitioner and you can choose to go onto our register as such. It also enables you to move onto the Level Three training, which is the supervised practicum part of the training. On successful completion of Level Three, you can call yourself a BUSS accredited practitioner, and can appear on the register that we hold, as such. You can then complete further training and experience of supervision to progress to becoming a BUSS consultant if that is something that you are interested in doing (Level 4 training).

Our plan is to run this training once or twice a year, depending on interest. The training will always be with groups of 16 or fewer to ensure good opportunities for discussion and practise.  During COVID we’ll probably stick to groups of 10 or 12. The key tenets of the BUSS model are movement, playfulness and relationships and we strive to reflect these in our trainings. We want to connect with you, for us to enjoy the time we spend together and for you to leave the training ready to move onto the supervised practicum part of the training which is Level Three.


Current practice with children who have experienced developmental trauma tends to focus on psychological and relational therapies. Whilst these are undoubtedly important, they can be complemented by a ‘bottom up’ approach, understanding the role that good bodily regulation and functioning plays in enabling a child to engage in relationships and thinking. The BUSS model brings together sensory integration theory (how the brain and central nervous system develop in response to movement), attachment theory and a neurodevelopmental understanding of the impact of trauma on the developing brain. Bringing these models together within the context of a nurturing relationship offers the potential to fill in the gaps in the child’s movement experiences that have been left by early adversity, thus allowing them to grow into themselves on a bodily level. This in turn offers a stable platform for the development of social/emotional skills and learning.

This training is designed to allow practitioners to increase their knowledge and understanding of the BUSS model and to develop skills in using the BUSS screening tool and the BUSS assessment model.

There is an expectation that participants will record themselves using the BUSS assessment with  a typically developing child between days 2 and 3 of the training and bring this to day three of the training.

On successful completion of this training, participants will be ready to move onto the practicum part of the training (Level Three), which will allow them to develop their skills in working with families of school age children using the BUSS model to assess and support families as they work to rebuild their child’s underdeveloped sensorimotor systems. Participants not wishing to progress to BUSS accredited practitioner level (Level Three) but who are working with supervision from an accredited BUSS practitioner, can use the designation BUSS Informed Practitioner. The BUSS Company holds a register of Buss Informed and Buss Accredited Practitioners which is made available to the general public on request. You can choose whether or not to go onto this register.

This training builds on the one day ‘Introduction to the BUSS model’ web based training day as well as  participants’ existing skills in sensory integration and working with children and families in a therapeutic setting. It is helpful for participants to have taken part in this or a live Introduction to the BUSS model training before embarking on this training. 

This training is designed to increase participants’ knowledge and understanding of the model as well as developing skills in administering a BUSS assessment. Using teaching, case studies, video, small group work and hearing from parents experienced in using the model, participants will develop their understanding of children’s motor development and the relationships necessary for that development to take place. Viewing this from a relational as well as a functional perspective is important in working with parents who will be the most active participants in rebuilding a child’s underdeveloped sensorimotor systems. 

Participants will have the chance to use the BUSS screening tool and think about how this can be used to help families notice their child’s foundation sensorimotor skills.

Participants will be taught and have the opportunity to practise the way the BUSS model works with individual families to assess a child’s foundation sensorimotor systems as well as giving consideration to whether this is an appropriate intervention for an individual child and family at this time.

The key tenets of the model – playfulness, relationships and movement, will be an important part of the training, and we’ll intersperse the days with activities designed to help practitioners build up a repertoire of games and activities that may be helpful when supporting families rebuild their child’s foundation sensorimotor systems whilst always keeping these three guiding principles in mind.

Participants will be supported to develop ways of talking and thinking with children and families about the BUSS model and any work they might do with the family. Participants will also be given resources to support them in explaining the BUSS model to colleagues and other interested parties.

There will be teaching and discussion about wider applications of the model in other settings.

Day 1

The morning session will offer a brief refresher of the model, with ideas about talking to parents about the development of the tactile, vestibular and proprioceptive systems in a way that allows them to feel skilled and well informed.  We’ll consider the relational and environmental conditions necessary for motor development with particular emphasis on how the BUSS model uses the physiological development of the tactile system to support the development of parent child relationships as well as the concurrent psychological shift from a state of arousal to being in the moment of an experience.

From here, there will be a brief recap of the critical stages  of motor development in the first year of life, again taking into consideration the relational and physical aspects of this development and considering how to impart this information to parents in a way that is empowering and relevant  for them. 

With this understanding of how typically developing children pass from one stage of development to the next, we will move on in the afternoon session to think about the impact of trauma on this process, initially from a movement / motor perspective.  Thinking about the foundation sensorimotor systems of children who have experienced developmental trauma, participants will watch videos of typically developing children and children who have experienced developmental trauma undertaking similar activities in a gym session.  There will be opportunities to reflect on and discuss this and identify any areas participants may need further development in.

As well as offering an opportunity for participants to hone their skills in noticing movement the discussion will be focused on how to talk to families about the information this gives in terms of vestibular, proprioceptive and tactile functioning in a way that allows parents to be an active collaborator and ultimately the expert in their child’s development and recovery, and how this forms the baseline for the work ahead.

Day 2

Through teaching, small group work, practise and watching videos of children and families during their assessment, participants will develop their skills in the administration of the BUSS assessment.

Participants will have the chance to hear from families using the intervention how these observations translate into a BUSS intervention, and the impact this has had on their child.

There is a requirement for people wishing to progress to Level 3,  that  participants will record themselves practising the BUSS  assessment on a typically developing child between day 2 and day 3 of the training (which will be at least a month apart). If possible, participants should bring videos of these to day three for use in group discussions. It is participants’ responsibility to get permission from families for this.  This must be recorded and submitted to the course coordinator.

Day 3

The morning session will give participants the opportunity to share their screening recordings, supporting each other as they develop skills in using the assessment. Participants will be supported to develop their skills in analysing recordings of assessments; learning what information they elicit about the foundation sensorimotor skills and how this information can be used to build a programme specific to the individual child / family.

The afternoon session will consolidate learning from this course, offering opportunities to try some of the activities of Level Three, working with families to rebuild underdeveloped sensorimotor systems.  There will be an introduction to the teaching about how BUSS reports are written and how information is conveyed to parents  in a way that empowers and enables them  to rebuild their child’s foundation sensorimotor systems with support from a BUSS practitioner.

Over the three days, as participants become more skilled and confident in eliciting relevant information from the assessments and begin to think about planning interventions, we’ll spend time thinking about when the right time for this kind of intervention might be. We’ll think about the importance of the family context, and how to ensure that the timing of this intervention, the way the assessment is undertaken and how the intervention is paced and graded takes this context into account. Consideration will be given to situations when additional interventions may be needed before a family has the capacity to take part in a BUSS intervention.

Participants will have the chance to hear from families using the intervention how these observations translate into a BUSS intervention, and the impact this has had on their child. 

There will also be discussion about other applications of the BUSS model, looking at the content outcomes of a school readiness programme for 2 and 3 year old children in foster care, developed by Sarah.

This course is suitable for Occupational Therapists,  Speech and Language Therapists and Physiotherapists  who have done at least Level One of the Sensory Integration UK and Ireland training and who have clinical experience of working with children and families who have experienced developmental trauma. If you are unsure about whether this is the right training for you, please get in touch with Sarah Lloyd, on info@BUSSModel.org, who will be happy to discuss it with you.

Participants will be required to read both the ‘Improving Sensory Processing in Traumatised Children’ (Lloyd, 2016) and the ‘Building Underdeveloped Sensorimotor Systems in Children with Developmental Trauma’ (Lloyd, 2020) books in preparation for  this training. Guidance on further reading will be provided within the course materials.

This course is not suitable for participants wishing to develop skills in sensory integration therapy with children who have sensory processing disorders.

This training will be led by Sarah Lloyd and she will be joined by members of the BUSS team, including: 

Katie Wrench is the Head of Clinical Services for BUSS. Katie is a Social Worker and Art Psychotherapist who has twenty years’ experience of working in residential and child protection social work as well as managing the Leeds Therapeutic Social Work Team for 13 years.  Katie has written three books for professionals, parents and foster carers. They are: “Life Story Work with Children who are Fostered or Adopted: Creative Ideas and Activities” (Wrench, K & Naylor, L. JKP, 2013); “Helping Vulnerable Children and Adolescents to Stay Safe – Creative Ideas and Activities for Building Protective Behaviours” (Wrench, K, JKP, 2016); and “Creative Ideas for Assessing Vulnerable Children and Families” (Wrench, K, JKP, 2018). 

Vicky Holland and Lindsey Champion are the BUSS team parent mentors. They are adoptive parents who bring a wealth of  experience  of using  the BUSS model with their own children and of supporting other adoptive families as they use the BUSS programme. 

Jules Franklin, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and BUSS Practitioner. Jules has  worked for over 27 years as Consultant Clinical Psychologist in the NHS in Leeds and London specialising primarily in child and adolescent  mental health. Her work has included  community CAMHS teams, child development, paediatric and health psychology. Jules’ therapeutic interests include, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Cognitive remediation Therapy (CRT), Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR), Neuro developmental work and the impact of trauma. 

I am very interested in the relationship between early childhood experiences, emotional and psychological health and physical development and hope to bring my creative and playful experience to the BUSS team.

The BUSS Training for Occupational Therapists with Sensory Integration Training costs £540 per person for the three days of training.

Go to the upcoming events page HERE, to see our current trainings and to register for your place.

As well as the advertised events, the team are always happy to discuss commissioned training. Please contact us on info@bussmodel.org


Of note:

“The most interesting part was listening to Sarah explain the model in such an informative, engaging, warm, and passionate way”– Associate Dean of Teaching and Learning at the Tavistock Clinic

“Inspiring, excellent, and thought provoking. Loved how active the training session is. The videos were really helpful”– A Clinical Psychologist 

“Really liked how it linked back to real children. Really heartening to know we can make such a difference now.”– an Adoptive parent

“As a trainer, really engaging, doesn’t use jargon and makes sure it is accessible”an Adoptive parent. 

“All aspects of the workshop were useful! Especially the practical activities, I can definitely implement most aspects of the workshop into my working day”– A Deputy Head Teacher

“It’s been a fantastic, thought provoking training- highlights simple techniques that can make such a huge difference in our children’s lives”– A Senior Social Worker

“In just a short period of time Sarah has had a tremendous impact in Leeds in developing and testing out the BUSS model. It is one of the best decisions I have made to support her secondment.  The BUSS model and impact this is having is recognised by our strategic boards where she has presented her findings.”– The Children’s Commissioner in Leeds

Legal Considerations:

  • Please remember that BUSS model Ltd does not accept legal responsibility for the wellbeing of clients. These remain the responsibility of the individual or organisation undertaking the work.
  • Practitioners must present written consent from those families for them to be recorded and for their involvement in the supervision process.

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