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Imagining Futures

How our service can help you

Imagining Futures is a programme combining mental wellness strategies and arts practice for young women living in Lambeth or Southwark.

Imagining Futures uses drama, creative writing, music, photography and film combined with dialectical behaviour therapy and mindfulness to support mental wellness of young women aged 14 to 18 years old.

The project supports young women whose immediate and longer-term mental health may be affected by issues including self-harm, social exclusion, exploitation, vulnerability, deprivation and gang association.

This project is aimed at young women who live in Southwark or Lambeth and have a history of self-harm or are at risk of self-harm.

Our weekly workshops will:

  • Use creative writing, photography and drama with DBT and mindfulness
  • Aim to build self-esteem, empathy and confidence
  • Be a caring, supportive and safe environment
  • Develop group skills and social behaviour

Imagining Futures is a project developed by the Adolescent At-Risk and Forensic Service (AAFS), and is part of national and specialist CAMHS at the Maudsley Hospital.

  • Service Borough Covers: National (Child and Adolescent services) Treatment type: Outpatient
  • Contact the service

    Site Location: Maudsley Hospital Email: Phone Number: 07493 272294
  • Disabled Access:
    • Wheelchair accessible building
    • Ground floor therapy rooms
    • Accessible toilets on all levels
    • Lift access to the 1stfloor.
  • Address: Michael Rutter Centre
    Maudsley Hospital
    De Crespigny Park,
    SE5 8AZ
  • Business Hours/Visiting Hours: Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
  • Other essential information

  • Conditions: Anxiety, Depression, Self-harm

Information for participants

  • Use creative writing, photography and drama with DBT and mindfulness
  • Be led by Arts facilitators and a psychologist working collaboratively
  • Aim to build self-esteem, empathy and confidence
  • Be a place to think, create, have fun and be imaginative
  • Be a place to develop creative skills and life-skills
  • Be a caring, supportive and safe environment
  • Include around 12 young women working together
  • Run from September 2020 – May 2021

What skills will you develop?

Personal skills:

  • Increase confidence, self-esteem and self-belief
  • Working together in a group
  • Communication skills

Practical skills:

  • Organisational skills
  • Creative skills: acting, performance, photography, creative writing, art and music
  • Presentation and language skills

Extra support

  • A Project Assistant who will help with how to attend the session.
  • They will be available for pastoral support and mentoring.
  • The programme will be delivered by caring and supportive staff.
  • You will be given a contact number where you can text questions and concerns relating to the programme to the Project Assistant.
  • We’ll let you know where to ask for additional help and support with your mental wellness.

What is DBT?

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is a type of talking treatment. It has been developed to help people who experience emotions very intensely.

The aim of DBT is to help you learn to manage your difficult emotions by letting you experience, recognise and accept them. Then as you learn to accept and regulate your emotions, you also become more able to change your harmful behaviour.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness means paying attention to thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations without judging them — without believing there’s a right or wrong way to think or feel.

When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.


We want you to attend as many of the sessions as possible.
You must tell us (in advance where possible) about any absences.


At Brixtonhouse and other neutral venues.

You can download a copy of this information: information for participants.

Information for referrers

National and Specialist CAMHS are collaborating with Brixtonhouse, a well-recognised creative arts centre in South London, to deliver a community-embedded service innovation for young people in Lambeth and Southwark. Our grant-funded project, Imagining Futures (IF), combines expert mental health provision with frontline arts participation in a 10-month group skills programme for young women aged 14-18 years.

We are due to re-launch our second year of the programme in September 2020, after postponing the workshops due to COVID restrictions.

Priority will be given to individuals who have already been offered places, however we expect some attrition and are welcoming new referrals from SLaM services, youth agencies and via self-referral.

Our clients

The transdiagnostic IF programme has been developed for young women with emotional difficulties, who have a history of self-harming or attempted suicide. They may have experienced past trauma and/or be considered ‘at-risk’ of social and school exclusion.

The Imagining Futures Programme

Imagining Futures (IF) offers weekly two-hour workshops, after school hours within approved arts facilities in South London, including Peckham theatre and Mountview drama academy.

Leading artists and therapists will use drama and related art forms, such as spoken word, photography and dance, along with psychology skills to help people to manage difficult emotions, express themselves, build positive relationships, explore issues in their lives and develop creative ways to cope with life’s challenges. Peer mentors from our first year will be available to support.

To refer to the Imagining Futures programme please contact us:

Inclusion criteria

  • Females aged 14 -18 years.
  • At least one episode of self-harm in the last 12 months or attempted suicide

Exclusion criteria

  • Global learning disability or severe Autism
  • Diagnosis of schizophrenia
  • Substance dependency (not misuse)

You can download a copy of this information: information for referrers.


  • 30-week group programme, with supported arts outings in break periods
  • Weekly two hour evening workshops
  • Integrated professional arts facilitation and dialectical behavioural skills sessions
  • Project assistant support
  • Youth mentors
  • Between-workshop telephone skills check in
  • Clinical psychology support and staff supervision
  • Onward referral and signposting


The Imagining Futures programme is currently being evaluated as part of a two-year pilot.

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) skills sessions have been shown to decrease self-harming and suicidal behaviours and hopelessness and increase emotional resilience and coping resources.

Engagement in arts practices has been shown to impact positively on self-esteem, social connectedness, perceived social support, confidence and overall wellbeing.

Our experts

Dr Lindsay Smith, Clinical Psychologist - Read more

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