Circles for Learning Logo
Magnifying Glass Icon

Self Discovery

Created byAlison Waterhouse

Enrol Now


An individual’s self-concept is at the core of their being. It affects every aspect of their behaviour, their ability to learn, their capacity to grow and change, their relationships, and their journey in life. A strong positive self-image supports our mental health and wellbeing as well as our ability to achieve.

The Self Discovery course explores how the foundations for self-esteem are laid early in a child’s life through their experiences and interactions with others. It helps practitioners understand that the picture we create of ourselves is a personal construct that has developed from the responses of others and internal reflections on how we are and how we would like to be. It is therefore an interpretive act.

The course looks at developing knowledge and understanding over a variety of areas that influence our sense of self, including: self-esteem; self-efficacy; self-regulation; negative self-talk; self-compassion; an understanding of resilience; and the importance of supporting children and young people (CYP) develop empathy.

A positive sense of self is of great importance to CYP's positive mental health and wellbeing. The course helps teachers to identify a variety of strategies that can support the CYP they work with, both within their classrooms and across the whole school environment.

Who this course is for

  • Teachers
  • Emotional literacy support assistants
  • Teaching assistants
  • Learning mentors
  • Higher level teaching assistants
  • Others working with young people

What you'll learn

  • To explore how our understanding of self develops and the impact this can have on mental health and wellbeing
  • To develop an understanding of the importance of early relationships and experiences in developing a positive sense of self
  • To develop an understanding of how negative early relationships and trauma can affect the way we think about ourselves and how we interact with others and the world in which we live
  • To develop an understanding about self-image, self-concept and self-esteem and how these influence both behaviour and learning
  • To explore the impact of school and learning on the development of self and also how schools and educational staff can offer a second chance of learning about both others and self
  • To develop knowledge and understanding of how our beliefs about ourselves can influence our mental health and wellbeing and how positive self-esteem can act as a buffer to negative life experiences
  • To explore and develop knowledge and understanding about the importance of self-efficacy
  • To explore knowledge and understanding about the importance of developing self-compassion in supporting the development of positive mental health and wellbeing
  • A Sense of Self

  • How We Think About Ourselves

  • School and Our Sense of Self

  • Self-Efficacy

  • Self-Awareness

  • End of Course Tasks

Self-Discovery: Supporting Emotional Health and Wellbeing in School


One of the five books in the Mental Health and Wellbeing Teacher Toolkit, this practical resource focuses on how to support children and young people on a voyage of self-discovery, as they learn to be their own best friend. The book offers research-driven, practical strategies, along with creative material, and step-by-step lesson plans to support educators and health professionals. This is a resource book for practitioners looking to have a positive impact on the mental health and wellbeing of the children and young people in their care; both now and in the future. Chapters span key topics including Developing Resilience, Positive Thinking, Emotional Awareness, and Self-Efficacy. 

Book Icon
View Resource

Your tutor

Avatar of Alison Waterhouse

Alison Waterhouse

Educational Psychotherapist and Founder of the Circles for Learning Project

Alison Waterhouse has worked in mainstream, special education, and the independent sector for the past 30 years, specialising in working with children with Additional Educational Needs (AEN) including Mental Health and Wellbeing.

Alison set up and developed an Independent Therapeutic Special School in Kent. She then moved into mainstream schools where she worked as a Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) and Inclusion Manager. Alison then went on to develop an innovative role in mainstream schools, titled, 'Teacher in Charge of Social and Emotional Wellbeing of the Whole School Community’.

Alison has worked with the Anna Freud Centre, Young Minds, and Optimus training staff in schools on topics including  attachment, emotional barriers to learning, mental health and wellbeing, and becoming a trauma sensitive school. She now works as an Independent Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Mental Health and Wellbeing Adviser. Alison is also a qualified Educational Psychotherapist and has her own practice in East Sussex.

Alison has spent the past 8 years developing the ‘Circles for Learning’ project in schools. Circles for Learning trains and then supports teachers to bring a parent and young child into the classroom (at the KS1 - KS3 level) once a month for a year. This amazing experience allows children to observe the development of relationships, watch learning unfold, understand how our sense of self develops, and observe and understand emotions and the ways in which they impact on our behaviour. With the guidance and support of their teacher they explore and think about what they have seen and how this may link to their own development, learning, thinking, behaviour, and ways of interacting with others. These parent young child observation visits are the provocation or stimulus to follow up work led by the teacher exploring each of the five essential elements that form the foundations for positive mental health and wellbeing.

Alison has undertaken primary research project and a Masters looking at the impact of the project on children and young people (CYP) within schools. Whilst developing the project she has assorted the knowledge into five resource books which have been published by Routledge. They make up the Mental Health and Wellbeing Teachers Toolkit.

Learn More