Do you know Studio 3 provide a range of specialist clinical services supporting both children and adults?

Our aims at Studio 3 are to develop empathic confident professionals who are specialists in applying a low arousal approach. Who can maintain a safe environment but still see the person they are supporting and not just the behaviour.

What we can provide:

We can be contracted to meet a short-term specific need or to provide longer-term on-going support to:

  • Organisations working in: education, older adult care, learning disability, forensic and mental health settings.
  • We work both in private secure settings, public secure settings and in transferring between services and leaving care
  • We additionally work with all age ranges from children, young people, adults and older adults.
  • Further supporting families, parents and supporters in homes, schools, residential and assisted living.

We specialise in working with people with highly challenging behaviour needs including severe self-harm, physical aggression and complex trauma. Further we work with individuals who have intellectual disabilities, Autism, Mental Health, Dementia and Acquired Brain Injury (ABI).



Training is not just about teaching skills but about encouraging people to reflect on their own behaviour and understand the behaviour of others. Further, our training goes beyond the classroom and we coach on the ground as and when required.

  • Providing bespoke training to fit the individual
  • Evidence based training in managing challenging behaviour
  • Helping an organisation mange their crisis management responses
  • Supervising and supporting team members
  • Encouraging reflective practice
  • Tailored restraint reduction plans
  • Provide transition from secure to non secure settings
  • Provide transition from child to adult services
  • Supporting the return of ‘outsourced’ placements
  • Supporting larger organisations in developing new services
  • Parachuting in specialist provision to prevent placement breakdown


Specialist Clinical Practitioners:

We have specialist low arousal clinical practitioners whose skills can be used to support according to the needs of the individual or organisation by:

  • Conducting assessments and observations
  • Capacity Assessments
  • Cognitive assessments (WAIS and WISC)
  • Psychological assessments
  • Clinical needs assessments
  • Taking a positive psychology approach to stress reduction
  • Providing therapeutic input including: CBT, counselling, psychotherapy, mindfulness, systemic therapy and psychology
  • Conducting court reports and forensic assessments
  • Risk assessments, outcome reports and evaluations
  • Conducting stress reduction through Studio 3’s behaviour management approach

By collaborating these two services, Studio 3 provides a holistic and systemic approach to behaviour that challenges.

We provide services throughout the UK, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Republic of Ireland, Sweden, Australia, Canada, Israel and South Africa. We also support NPO’s in Greece and Malta.


If you are interested in gaining our support you can contact our triage team by:

Phone:  01225 334111



challenging-behaviour in schools

Challenging behaviour is a national problem in schools in England, review finds.

“Creating A Culture: How School Leaders Can Optimise Behaviour” is a report written by government advisor Tom Bennett.

Within it Tom details that poor conduct remains a significant issue for many schools in England and that there needs to be better ways available to help tackle the problem.

He notes “There is a striking contrast between data gathered from school leaders or school inspectors, and the experiences of frontline teachers and students. This is partly understandable. School leaders are held to account by their ability to demonstrate they have secured a safe, calm school environment. Stakes for leaders are high. It is natural for the most positive interpretation of one’s school to be presented publicly, especially in circumstances of external inspection.” The report concludes that “Just as importantly, though, there are many schools that demonstrate it is possible to improve in even the most beleaguered of circumstances.”

To provide an example of the differences between schools, he reports that he has seen some schools where lateness is not recorded as misbehaviour and other schools where it is. Bennett has said “Now, if you don’t record lateness as a misbehaviour, and you’ve got lots of lateness, then your behaviour will look much better in formal external data, than it will be if you’re a slightly more, shall we say, upfront school which does record that kind of data,” “So there’s a lot of variety in practices which can lead to rather misleading data. I’m not suggesting that it’s corrupt, I’m suggesting that it’s human beings reacting as human beings to slightly perverse incentives.”

Bennett concludes that there is no silver bullet to tackling disruptive conduct but that there are a number of approaches that can be used to deal with the issue and that good school leadership is key to creating the right culture in a school.


Studio 3 provides Challenging Behaviour Training


Brook House immigration removal centre abuse

‘Deportees not criminals’ BBC go undercover Winterbourne View/Medway style

The BBC documentary about abuses at G4S’ Brook House Detention Centre

Go to BBC G4S’ Brook House News Website

Studio 3’s Response from Prof. Andrew McDonnell

The BBC documentary aired on Monday 4th September reminded me that people have a right to be treated with dignity and respect. The psychologist Stanley Milgram in his book Obedience to Authority studied the willingness of people to administer electric shocks to people in a series of classic laboratory experiments. I’m reminded of his statement that “It is not so much the kind of person a man is as the kind of situation in which he finds himself that determines how he will act.” Putting it bluntly people can start to behave in a shameful manner if the situation appears to warrant it.

We also know that influential minorities can sway cultures. I have so much respect for the undercover reporter Callum Tulley who clearly was distressed by the chaotic ethos of the G4S run Detention Centre. We witnessed vulnerable people mixed with individuals who can only be described as predatory in nature. Some of individuals had been awaiting deportation for over 12 years. Even the design of the building looked like a modern version of some Dickensian workhouse.

But, what is the learning in these situations. Of course undercover documentaries tend not to highlight best practice but, let us consider the last series of Panorama expose documentaries that ranged from the abuses of people with intellectual disabilities at Winterbourne View, the scandal of the Medway detention Centre, ill treatment of the elderly. Let not just focus on the blatant criminal and immoral behaviour of people treating individuals who are often vulnerable as objects. Negative Cultures take time to evolve and take root. We are talking about rotten apples but there are faults at many levels. Our government inspection processes miss these places. People on the ground empower individuals to commit extreme and abusive acts. We should also understand that quality training is only good if it is put into practice.

We must apply moral standards to all people regardless of their status in our society. The American politician Hubert Humphrey in his last public speech put it in focus when he stated “…the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped. ”

Illegal immigrants are human beings that need to be treated with dignity and value not herded like cattle into these centres. At Studio 3 Training we have spent 25 years working with cultures that require change. Training in non aversive behaviour management can help, but it is only effective in cultures that support values on the ground. In my personal view we should focus on the system that allows and even enables people to behave in a dehumanising manner. Finally, culture change is not easy, but, it is difficult to be proud of a nation that treats the vulnerable in this manner.

Andrew McDonnell,
CEO Studio3

Flourishing by Maureen Gaffney: wellbeing in practice

Book Review Flourishing by Maureen Gaffney – wellbeing in practice

The concept of wellbeing and flourishing has been well documented. Maureen Gaffney’s book makes a significant contribution. The book contains good practical examples of achieving a sense of wellbeing. I think this book has many examples that causes the reader to reflect on their negative self talk and to refocus on positive elements. I am struck that these kind of self help books are rather like a menu in a restaurant. That is, choose the elements that suits you as an individual. For me there is a good balance between applied research and practical self help tips. I think anyone interested in positive psychology should read this book.

About Maureen Gaffney

Leading psychologist Dr Maureen Gaffney combines work in academia with a busy international consultancy business. She also serves on the executive committee of the Women’s Leadership Board at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

SEDi combine with Studio 3

Studio 3 combine with SEDi for Organisational Emotional Resilience

About SEDi and Founder Jay Buchan

Since 1988 Jay Baughan has specialised in change, turnaround and development within high stakes, fast changing environments. He has operated within the corporate world across Europe where he built a solid reputation for his solutions based upon Emotional Intelligence and creating team resilience to address operational and strategic issues. Since moving into community development in 2008 he has built an international reach through the creation of his Social Emotional Development Institute (SEDi) in 2011. SEDi is now present within communities in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Jay has focused on establishing a dedicated support for building emotional resilience within emotionally charged working environments. SEDi equips individuals and whole teams with the capability to cope and operate effectively within emotionally demanding situations. To achieve this Jay created a powerful learning, development and research infrastructure totally dedicated to helping establish a robust, grass-root capability which can self-drive the creation of emotional safety in the workplace.

Studio 3 and SEDi

As two organisations, Studio 3 and SEDi each support employers who operate teams within emotionally charged environments. Their support is provided from very different but complementary areas, each seeking to provide employers with an end-to-end support solution to significantly upgrade team capability and to create lasting and measurable impact on service, cost, wellbeing and profitability.

On 1st September 2017, Studio 3 and SEDi joined forces to launch a robust solution for “Emotional Safety at Work and for building and measuring organisation-wide Emotional Resilience”. Building upon over 20 years of Studio 3 reputation, SEDi creates a seamless and purpose built learning, development and research infrastructure. Together they are dedicated to supporting employers to build emotionally resilient teams, and the capability needed to create a sustainable emotional safety at work. During 2018 this partnership will lead the field, by providing key insights into workplace emotional resilience and champion the way for reducing stress absence, performance issues, physical and emotional abuse, employee churn, and litigation.

Find out more about Studio 3 Training

Atlass Masterclass 20th – 24th November 2017


Bookings are now available for 20th -24th November 2017 Atlass Masterclass

The Atlass programme is an internationally recognised programme which focuses on applying principles of stress management and wellbeing to supporting people with autism and other vulnerable people in care and accredited by Birmingham City University.

The Atlass programme was developed in response to the growing awareness of the role that stress plays in the onset and maintenance of challenging behaviour or difficult episodes, and the impact it has on people’s lives. By acknowledging developmental difference the Atlass programme teaches practitioners to examine stress and coping in themselves, the people they support and their carers. To that end the Atlass approach teaches participants how to develop and implement Stress Reduction Plans for individuals taking account of the transaction between the person, their relationships and their environment.

The next Atlass masterclass is being held on  at our offices in Warwickshire:
Minerva Mill Innovation Centre,
Station Road, Alcester,
Warwickshire, B49 5ET

For more Information & booking a course click here

Call us at 01225 334 111


PBS Training: Positive Behaviour Supports & Low Arousal Approaches

Positive a Behaviour Supports and Low Arousal Approaches: The Studio3 perspective

The training low arousal based courses focus on reactive approaches to manage behaviours. Reactive approaches are necessary but completely sufficient to effect change. Our goal is to apply scientific principles to day to day behaviour management which we call low arousal approaches.

There are four key components considered central to low arousal approaches, and those include both cognitive and behavioural elements:

1. Decreasing staff demands and requests to reduce potential points of conflict around an individual
2. Avoiding potentially arousing triggers, such as direct eye contact, touch, and removal of spectators to the incident
3. Avoidance of non-verbal behaviours that may lead to conflict, such as aggressive postures and stances
4. Challenging staff beliefs about the short-term management of challenging behaviours

Wider changes can be achieved when we combine good behaviour management with Positive Behaviour Suppports.

What are Positive Behaviour Supports?

Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) is an approach mostly used to support people with learning disabilities whose behaviours challenge others, or lead to restrictions for them. It has a strong empirical evidence base and is consistent with the human rights of people with Learning Disabilities (Chan, French, & Webber 2011). PBS uses non-aversive applied behaviour analysis techniques in combination with person centered approaches to achieve the values of learning disability support. Generally, PBS refers to strategies and methods which aim to assist an individual to reduce challenging behaviour and increase their quality of life by teaching new skills and adjusting their environment to promote positive behaviour changes.

PBS recognises that behaviour serves a function with the aim of supporting the individual to learn a new behaviour which serves the same function but is considered less ‘challenging’. PBS interventions have a strong emphasis on prevention.

When PBS is being used you should see that:
Challenging behaviour is seen as functional. The behaviour helps that person to gain or avoid something.

The focus of a PBS plan is teaching new ways of achieving this function, not reducing the challenging behaviour. These reduce as a naturally occurring side effect.

Plans do not use punishment interventions. They are based on increasing functional behaviours, not reducing behaviours.

Learning for people with a learning disability needs to happen at their pace. A slow and steady approach is often required. It is important to make data recordings to show how people grow skills over time.


Our own PBS practitioners in Studio3 provide a number of programmes that focuses on proactive and reactive approaches within an evidenced based framework. Teaching will focus on functional analysis, functional assessment, constructional non aversive approaches. Participants are encouraged to focus on real life experiences. Our focus is slightly different from traditional PBS approaches as a wellbeing framework is used, We focus on the PERMA wellbeing framework (Seligman, 2011) which has been applied to a number of different populations including autism (McDonnell and Gayson, 2014). This model focuses on key elements of wellbeing (positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, achievements). We also strongly emphasise the role of stress as a mediator variable.

We adopt a model where participants receive two days training. They then apply these principles to a service user and then return for a follow up day at 3 months. A key outcome involves the production of good quality Behaviour support plans.


Good quality plans are only effective if they are consistently implemented by staff teams. This is often overlooked in organisations. Resistance to plans varies from organisation to organisation and it is a complicated process. Understanding these resistances can help with the implementation of more effective plans. A good subjective measure is to ask your staff anonymously their opinion about the implementation of plans.

There are a variety of reasons why behaviour support plans may not be implemented, which includes:

The plan is too difficult to understand. In this case, the organisation should consider rewriting the plans and it may also be useful to use reading age readability formulas available within word processing programmes.

Staff do not share the beliefs of the person who has written the support plan.

Staff do not agree with you, the managers, about the content of the plan.

Staff disagree with each other about the content of the plan and how they should implement it.

Plans are not reviewed regularly enough and so staff view them as out of date.

Once in place, behaviour support plans should be reviewed and triangulated – it should be asked “what direct evidence do we have that the plans are being implemented?” It is vital that there is ongoing documenting, discussion and analysis of all such evidence. The evaluation of outcomes should involve the person and family/carers where relevant. Outcome success should be judged on improvements in quality of life not just reduction in challenging behaviours.
We would strongly suggest that over the course of a year implementation audits should be conducted focussing on either specific plans or parts of the organisation which implements a number of plans.


Studio3 routinely works with organisations that are developing PBS cultures. PBS primarily is strongly emphasized in our behaviour management training. Our emphasis is on good quality evidenced based on evidenced based reactive strategies. These strategies help to enhance the PBS Practitioner in their ability to manage behaviours of concern. In sum, to be proactive you need to be good at the reactive.

Contact Studio 3 to discuss how we can assist PBS Practitioners in their ability to manage behaviours of concern.

Meeting of Minds Conference

Meeting of Minds conference – understanding, self-awareness, autism

A scientific conference about autism

9 – 10 November 2017 Copenhagen, Denmark

Check out both programme and speakers at

The 2017 conference centers on different issues in:

Meeting of Minds Conference

  • Participation
  • Self-awareness
  • Identity

Once again the Meeting of Minds conference brings together the minds of professionals and researchers in the fields of autism and related disorders.

Since the first conference in 2003, Meeting of Minds has for years successfully focused on research and the exchange of knowledge between different professionals.

This year the conference focuses on research and knowledge in people with autism and identity – and the understanding of self-awareness and autism. Participation is also a focus in Meeting of Minds 2017.

With these topics the organisers wish to spread knowledge in autism by creating an exchange of research and evidence between the different professionals at the conference.

We look forward to seeing you in Copenhagen in November 2017.

Who the conference is for –

It is with great pleasure that we invite researchers and professionals with a focus on research in autism and related disorders to participate in Meeting of Minds 6 – Participation, self-awareness and identity.



Need more info?

Please call or mail Torbjörn Andersson

Phone: +44 01789432423


Professor Andrew McDonnell STudio 3

Ask the Professor: Low arousal and challenging behaviour people with ADHD

Question: How does arousal relate to emotional and behavioral regulation?

Extract from Joyce Cooper Kahn’s Interview with Professor Andrew McDonnell

Can you define arousal and what we know about arousal in individuals with ADHD? How does the concept of arousal relate to emotional and behavioral regulation?
We are sometimes not aware of our own arousal mechanisms. Arousal regulation has survival value. We know that the arousal system is part of a mechanism that keeps us alert. Debates have persisted about the number of brain mechanisms involved in arousal regulation. The Yerkes Dodson law was focusing on learning and optimizing learning. We all have a ‘sweet spot’ where our arousal mechanism is most efficient. In these situations we are able to perform learning tasks more effectively and of course process information about the world. Both under and over arousal (hypo and hyper) can lead to information processing problems. I think when we consider the importance of arousal in emotional and behavioural regulation it is necessary to understand that the ’Internal world’ of the person does impact on their day to day behaviour. Just imagine driving a car that is stuck in one gear or it varies from time to time which gear works. Self regulation does require an understanding of a persons internal emotional state and relating that to behavior control.

More questions answered by Professor McDonnell in the next newsletter.