Disengaged I Motivating I Engaging

Engaging the Disengaged

As a semi-independent therapeutic project that works with young women aged 16-21 years, a common phenomenon is that this group is hard to reach. When facing the challenges of their need for social interactions, independence and autonomy, here at The Medusa Project we value their individual process and ensure that we meet each young woman, where she is on her journey.

For any young person the transition from adolescence to adulthood can be daunting, the young women at The Medusa Project have experienced many difficulties by the time they reach us, and these can become exacerbated during their stay with us. Through observation we have noticed that some young woman due to their survival mechanisms, can withdraw from aspects of the project, as this transition can feel overwhelming.

Some young women may display challenging behaviours, show an inability to emotionally regulate, have an increased dependency or have a low tolerance of being cared for. During this process, each young woman is treated with patience, acceptance and integrity. It is understandable that they may return to their primitive defence mechanisms, but ultimately here at The Medusa Project, our aim is for all young women to feel able to express themselves fully, and we support them in working towards complete autonomy.

There is a tangible fear of what the future holds for them, and where they will be within the Looked After System once they reach 18; and this can become their focal point. Through awareness we hold this in mind, as they travel through their recovery and recognise that it is likely to be a long journey hence, our age range flexibility allowing young women the opportunity to stay-on at the project post 18; enabling us to support her until the age of 21 should she need this, as we recognise one size does not fit all.

As a team, we support each young woman through regular key-working sessions, engaging her to work towards independence and teaching her new living skills. At times, when a young woman is disengaged or feeling overwhelmed, a team member ensures that they are available to meet with her at all times.

Due to their complex needs, a young woman can at times feel uncomfortable and/or unsafe; with this in mind the team work diligently with other professionals to ensure that each individual is advocated for positively, to ensure her best possible care.

Our philosophy at The Medusa Project is to provide a humanistic approach; this ensures that the best interest of each young woman is kept in mind and at the forefront of any work that we provide.

Through creative methods this process can feel non-threatening and we provide a safe place to interact, allowing each young woman to engage with difficult feelings, which she may have previously avoided. This takes place with our in-house Art Psychotherapist who works with both verbal and non-verbal communication, allowing the young woman to understand her inner world and provides an explorative place to build upon her sense of self.

At times, we are challenged by a lack of motivation that can arise from an individual, which can lead to further withdrawal. During these times, it has been important to continue to persevere and often remind her that there are people here, who care for her, showing her that she is in our thoughts, affirming that no matter what place she is in, or how low she may feel, she is accepted through our unconditional positive regard.

Would you like to find out how The Medusa Project successfully works with young women aged 16 – 21 who experience trauma, attachment and emotional difficulties.

For more information or to arrange a visit, please visit our website or send us an email at


The Stages of transition

The young women, who arrive at The Medusa Project have predominantly experienced difficultly in problematic relationships, generally with their parent or caregivers. We are aware that when a young woman arrives that there will be a settling in period where “new relationships are key”, this maybe with people or with objects, such as new accommodation or their bedrooms.

Whilst many changes can occur at a practical level, much of “the work” that the young woman and team members need to do is in regards to relationships with “the other” and ultimately the most important relationship “with themselves”. At Medusa we are very aware of the importance of transparent, supportive, congruent and real relationships. Part of adolescence is challenging with rules and expectations, it is also paramount that the young women are able to experience conflict within their relationships and recognise that this is not the end and that there is no punishment of withdrawal or the ending of relationships as a result of this; the young women’s capacity to internalise these relationships in an attempt to provide a reparative experience. So whilst transitions appear to be mostly practical, they are very much about the ever changing multiple relationships that the young women gain and lose.

At Medusa we recognise that there are three distinct stages of transition that our young women go through; these are, transition from previous placement to The Medusa Project, transition from adolescence to adulthood and transition from Medusa to their next accommodation. These transitions can feel difficult and overwhelming for some young women; therefore, it is so important that the young women are offered a structured support system.

In the initial transition to the project a young woman can feel scared, isolated, and sometimes distressed; struggling to settle at night, needing further care, support and ultimately a space to feel understood and accepted. An initial psychotherapy assessment takes place to consider the suitability of what is offered and the pre-therapy work that will need to take place, we have a development programme which offers, regular Me-Time sessions to aid the young women’s progress in settling in. Our team works closely with external agencies to ensure the best possible care for the young women’s emotional wellbeing and the considerations of the impact of what their journey has been, prior to their arrival at The Medusa Project.

The Medusa Project offer visits to the project to gain some idea of what it might be like, to enable young women to meet with the team, the other young women and familiarise themselves with the house. We offer a tailor made transition that meets the individual need of each young woman, this can includes day visits and overnight stays; this allows the young women to gently get used to her surroundings and to begin to build relationships with team members and co-residents.

The skills for living programme offered at Medusa gives practical skills to aid young women with all the skills needed for independence, for example; cooking, cleaning, changing a fuse, budgeting and any other practical skills that will be needed once moving on to independence. Medusa ascertains where the young person needs to learn new skills and attempts to address this through supporting the young women. In holding the balance of both practical and emotional development, this can allow the young women to feel grounded and to be able to process the previous trauma that they have experienced at their own pace.

Transitioning into adulthood can be an emotionally demanding time and turning 18 is a pinnacle moment and includes a transition from children’s services to adult services in both mental health and social care services. The umbrella of care changes and this can feel very challenging for young women who have built relationships within both children and mental health services therefore, emotional support from team members at Medusa is particularly important for them. At this transition point, some young women are not ready for this change and can be a significant trigger and can cause regressive behaviours.

We have recently said goodbye to two young women, who have worked successfully towards independence, one to a self-contained flat and the other to supported accommodation. During their stay at Medusa the team and the young women worked hard towards achieving autonomy and stability both mentally and emotionally. The transition from adolescence to adulthood can often occur at the same time that the young women move on from The Project.

The humanistic approach adopted by The Medusa Project enables team members to use their therapeutic skills and expertise to support young women, and to ensure their readiness and stability when they finally move on from the project.

Once the young women have moved on from the project we offer a further 4 key working sessions, these can take place in the new placement or in a local café etc., should the young women wish to accept this opportunity then she can decide what period this will cover, for example whether it is weekly or monthly. This is to enable a “gentle letting go” of old relationships and the support in the new placement.

Would you like to find out how The Medusa Project successfully works with young women aged 16 – 21 who experience trauma, attachment and emotional difficulties.

For more information or to arrange a visit, please visit our website or send us an email at

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