Sonya Blandford

BEd/Psych MEd (Guid & Couns) AMAPS

Sonya started out her career as a primary school teacher. She then worked as a Guidance Officer before she moved to London, UK to work for 12 years as an Educational Psychologist. Sonya currently works part time at Minds and Hearts and part time as a Guidance Officer in a North Brisbane Primary School.

During her time as an Educational Psychologist working in an Inner London Borough, Sonya gained broad experience with many types of disability and behaviour problems in schools. Sonya worked with children under five, primary schools and secondary schools. Sonya also worked in behaviour units and special schools. Sonya worked on a Behaviour Improvement Project for nine years that aimed to reduce exclusion, increase attendance and improve behaviour in schools. This role involved helping schools improve policies, training staff and doing individual work with the most complex behaviour cases. Sonya also worked on the Early Years Team working with children 0-5 years of age and their Teachers and Families for five years. This involved assessing and planning interventions for children with complex needs and supporting Early Years settings to manage difficult behaviours and situations. During her time in London, Sonya developed a speciality in ASD and was allocated time to create a role with her colleague that provided individual assessment and intervention, group problem solving sessions, transition support (including co-ordinating a group that summarised the borough’s transition practice) and the training of staff and parents.

Sonya enjoys working with families to assess current needs and to develop a plan to help achieve treatment goals. Sonya believes in looking at the presenting issues in a positive way and working together with the families to decide on the best evidenced based strategies to use. Sonya is available to diagnose under 5’s with ASD and work with children, families and schools up to secondary age.

Sonya has recently met the standards of a 5 day intensive course in Animal Assisted Therapy Human-Canine Team training. Sonya and her labrador Lulu graduated at level one and are working towards level two. Level one means that Lulu is deemed suitable for therapy work, but will need to wear her lead in the clinic. She is also suitable for working with calm, older children and adults. Lulu is working with Sonya at Minds and Hearts on Tuesday afternoons. Research has been continuing to increase regarding the positive impact animals have. As animals are non-judgemental and provide an unconditional love, they not only assist in increasing the engagement between therapist and client, but can also assist as an intrinsic motivator. Animals also have the unique ability to provide immediate feedback regarding a person’s mood, behaviour and method of communication.