The TEAM approach to resilience

For allied health and educational practitioners working with children and young people. Can also be used for resilience building with adults and team building with staff groups. Includes access to session plans and resources.

Meet Dr Vicky Eames, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and developer of our Team of Life programmes

Reducing social isolation and building pro-social behaviour

Unlike other mental health resilience programmes, Team of Life moves beyond an internal and individual focus and acknowledges people’s social and cultural context, helping to reduce stigma.

Since the pandemic, mental health problems have increased in the UK. A recent survey undertaken by NHS Digital found that 1 in 6 children in July 2020 had a probable mental health problem, which is an increase of 50% compared to 2017. Social isolation is strongly linked to mental health problems. Team of Life helps people to recognise and build their support networks and become more aware of their strengths and achievements. As part of our work with schools and NHS Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services, Riverbank Psychology has developed resilience programmes based on Team of Life for children aged 7 and upwards to adults of all ages. Research by the University of Liverpool has shown that the Team of Life helps children to be less socially withdrawn, feel less isolated increased pro-social behaviour.

A strength-based approach underpinned by Narrative Therapy

"Telling stories in ways that make us stronger"

Using the universal language of sport rather than the language of problems, Team of Life invites people to identify key sources of support or ‘team-mates’ in their lives. The use of sporting metaphors helps develop rich, strength-based stories and skills for tackling problems, avoiding obstacles, and achieving goals in life. This builds resilience by building a sense of social support and connected identity. The collective knowledge and resources of teams are acknowledged and shared in playful and creative ways that recognise the contribution people make to one another's lives.
First Team of Life group in Uganda

We loved the above drawing that Lucy Rothwell, Education Mental Health Practitioner with Liverpool Mental Health Support Team did, which really brings the Team of Life metaphor to life.

Key Features

  • Participants decide who they would like to think of as being in their ‘team of life’ from among their family, friends and other people who are important to them

  • Recognising the skills in their teams helps them to build confidence

  • Drawing how they worked together with their team to achieve a goal is an innovative way of telling stories of achievement and hope

  • People are reminded that celebrating goals with a team is much more fun than on your own!

  • Being part of a team makes it easier to think about how to tackle problems together

"But I'm not sporty!"

Team of Life provides a common and universal language for all children, whether or not they like sport

Perhaps you are thinking that Team of Life is for children who are interested in sport? Our research has shown that this is not the case; Team of Life has been used with children of different genders and children who are not so keen on playing or watching sport still benefitted and enjoyed taking part. As it is a highly playful approach children can play with the metaphor and go with alternative interests if they wish. Team of Life also provides a space for some of the problems within the sporting arena to be explored. The exploration of positive sporting values within the programme can also potentially ignite interest in sport among children who have "switched off" from sport. 

In addition, don't worry if you don't know a lot about sport yourself, the language used in Team of Life is simple and we will give you all the tools you need to draw on the sporting metaphors that are used.  

"Quite a lot of people like sports but even if you don't, you still know what it means without having to ask, you sort of understand"  Year 7 Team of Life participant.


Research, led by University of Liverpool in partnership with Cheshire & Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust found groups led by staff in schools trained to deliver Team of Life helped children to:

  • Feel less isolated

  • Be less socially withdrawn

  • Show more pro-social behaviour such as kindness and friendliness


Team of Life can be beneficial for anyone. It can be helpful to all of us to think about the important people in our lives; those whom we have learned from or who have helped us through life. Children and young people who have become or are at risk of becoming socially isolated are particularly likely to benefit, including children who have experienced:

  • Losses, trauma, or hardship

  • Low-level mental health problems

  • Concerns in relation to transition to secondary school

  • Difficulties with friendships

  • Problems related to self-esteem

What children have said about Team of Life

Qualitative research with children who participated in Team of Life highlighted benefits in a number of domains:

Appreciating Others - "It reminds you of who's there for you, and like who can look after you when you're down"

Getting Support - "If I wanna do something I try and ask my parents if they wanna help me"

Improved Interactions - "It helps you realise that sometimes when you be mean to somebody you don't have to be mean to them over a tiny thing"

Team-work - "Yeah, I used to just kind of work on my own but now I like working in a team"

Helping Others - "I think just like being kinder to people and like if someone's sitting there upset I'll go over and talk to them"

Achieving Goals - "Team of Life helped me achieve it and it'll help me because now I know I can achieve my goals I think I might set a few more"

Increased Confidence - "I'm a lot more confident speaking out in class"

What's Included?

Choose between Option 1, 2 or 3

  • Option 1 - Online Course - study at your own pace; approximately 6 hours of study time which is available 24/7 for 90 days

  • Option 2 - 1 day Face-to-face training - 1 day face-face workshop led by Dr Vicky Eames (NB this option cannot be purchased online, please contact us)

  • Option 3 Live Online Training - two half days online workshop led by Dr Vicky Eames (NB this option cannot be purchased online, please contact us)

  • Team of Life 'Age 10-100' Programme - online access to step-by-step facilitators' guidance and session plans to our flagship Team of Life programme. The programme is 5 x 1-hour sessions that can be adapted for groups of different sizes. Some of the core activities can also be adapted for 1-1 and family work

  • Introduction to Narrative Therapy - the approach underpinning Team of Life provides a philosophy and methodology for conversations that places children's stories, knowledge, and skills at the centre

  • Downloadable resources: everything you need to deliver Team of Life including session plans, printable handouts, and optional PowerPoint support

  • Team of Life Facilitator Community - online community accessed via the Team of Life Hub, enabling you to connect with us as well as share practice experience with fellow facilitators

Downloadable Resources Included

Session plans, printable handouts and PowerPoints

All the materials you need to support delivery of the Age 10-100 programme are included. You will be free to download, print and re-use these resources as often as you wish. 

Training Outcomes

  • Understand more about Narrative Therapy and the Team of Life Approach

  • Develop skills for narrative conversations that can be used with children, families and adults

  • Run our Team of Life Programmes within your setting

  • Build resilience and reduce social isolation among your client group

  • Deliver this cross-cultural approach that can be adapted to a range of client groups including BAME and those disadvantaged due to socio-economic status

Option 1 - Online Course

£140 per delegate

Study at your own pace; 7 hours of study time available 24/7 over 90 days
Live Online Training

Option 2 - Face-to-Face Training

£240 per delegate

1 day face-face workshop led by Dr Vicky Eames (NB: this option cannot be purchased online, please contact us)
Buckinghamshire MHST second training cohort

Option 3 - Live Online Training

£180 per delegate

Two half days online workshop led by Dr Vicky Eames(NB: this option cannot be purchased online, please contact us)
Live Online Training

Team of Life Kit

Age 7-11 Programme - guidance and resources

Our Partners and Customers

We have trained practitioners from services and organisations from a range of sectors including the NHS, Education and Third Sector. Some of our partners and customers include:

  • Cheshire & Wirral NHS Foundation Trust; Wirral Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service, Wirral Mental Health Support Team

  • Alder Hey Children's Hospital Trust; Clinical Health Psychology Team, Liverpool Mental Health Support Team, Sefton Mental Health Support Team

  • Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust; Buckinghamshire Mental Health Support Team

  • West London NHS Trust; Hounslow Mental Health Support Team

  • St Helens Educational Psychology Service

  • Cheshire West and Chester Educational Psychology Service

  • Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust; Grenfell NHS Health and Well-being Service, Adult Mental Health Services

  • West Sussex County Council; Thought-Full: Mental Health Support Teams in Schools

  • Hendon Football Club; Silver Jubilee Park Community Hub


Here's what other practitioners have said about our Team of Life training and programmes

Team of Life Online Course

Andrew Hastings - Secondary Behaviour Improvement Teacher, TESSA, St Helens Borough Council

"I am now looking forwards to promoting Team of Life to all 9 high schools in St Helens. I will be using the course across schools for those who are at risk of being permanently excluded. I work closely with referred families and i genuinely believe that narrative therapy may build bonds between school, students and parents."

Team of Life Children's Programme

Sabahat Malik – Senior Practitioner, Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

“I have delivered the Team of Life programme as an EMHP to primary school and secondary school pupils. The engagement, progress and positive impact was quick and very much noticeable after the first few sessions. I had great pleasure in delivering ToL and loved seeing the fruitful impact it had on children and young people who were in need of the support. The impacts of ToL are lasting and truly changing lives. Most of all, the CYPs absolutely loved it and took away valuable, everyday life skills.”

Team of Life

Laura North, Family Worker Buckinghamshire Mental Health Support Team

"One child said ‘ I feel so much happier than I was’’ A child tackled a problem of bullying – loved his advice, ‘’When you are bullied, it is good to tell an adult because holding on is not good’’ From the above statements and from delivering The Team of Life I feel it not only empowers the young people but it lets those working with the young person’s to know more about the great support there is surrounding the children! I am amazed that through the Team of Life you uncover so much about the child’s voice, and that promotes empathy and understanding and builds relationships!"

Team of Life Programme

Jayne Hart, Educational Mental Health Practitioner, Wirral Mental Health Support Team

“I have delivered Team of Life to 4 groups of young people ranging from year 3 to year 6. With regards to the selection of the young people, I tend to discuss in consultation with the SENCO that this is an intervention which would benefit young people with low confidence and self-esteem; young people who could benefit from building resilience and finding it difficult to forge friendships and relationships. I emphasise that the Team of Life is around these young people realising who is in their life and they're to support them and how they can build on this. I find it is a lovely piece of work. I have seen how some young people have flourished and gained confidence to join clubs in and out of school, plus take part in assemblies and school performances. SENCO's have commented that they can see a difference in the young people who have taken part in Team of Life.”

Team of Life Facilitator Training

Dr Laura Tozer, Clinical Psychologist, Buckinghamshire Mental Health Support Team

“The Team of Life training provided by Riverbank Psychology was incredibly helpful to our team. The experiential learning enabled the team to fully embrace the Team of Life approach and we all hugely enjoyed the training whilst learning a great deal. The training provided the opportunity for the team to learn about each other, consider who is in our own ‘team of life’ and reflect on our values. The creative approach Vicky and Mariangels took to deliver the training ensured the team learnt not only how to deliver Team of Life but also understood the narrative principles that underpins the approach. I would highly recommend this training to anyone who is looking to run Team of Life.”

Team of Life Children's Programme

Claire Owens, Director, Next Chapter CIC

“The Team of Life provides a common language that most students understand… I consistently witness students experiencing an appreciation and understanding of the value of support networks and how this has a positive impact on their lives. I have been particularly struck by the importance of stories, which comes from a narrative approach and how this can be used for children to tell their story, with a deeper understanding of how their experiences shape their attitude towards the future, finding key positive learning experiences from difficult circumstances.”

Team of Life Facilitator Training

Dr Hayley Lugassy, Educational Psychologist, Cheshire East Council

"We are keen to begin implementing this wonderful intervention as soon as possible.”

Team of Life Children's Programme

Stephanie Davey, Trainee Education Mental Health Practitioner

"I loved watching the young people grow in confidence throughout the programme and start to share more about their lives with us.’’ 

Team of Life Facilitator Training

Lucy Rothwell, Education Mental Health Practitioner, Alder Hey Mental Health Support Team

(From twitter) Last week we were trained in the Team of Life, which is a strength focused, narrative approach. We thought about how we could use this approach in schools to help CYP identify support systems, strengthen friendships and increase self-esteem. Thank you @riverbankpsych


Our Mission, Our Heritage

Our mission is for all children and young people in the UK to have the opportunity to take part in Team of Life; ensuring they have a sense of connected identity and know they are not alone but have a team around them to help.

While working towards our mission at home we are also keen to honour the heritage of Team of Life and those who have paved the way for our Team of Life work here in the UK. The Team of Life began in Southern Africa in work that the Dulwich Centre Foundation was doing with former child soldiers. A percentage of proceeds therefore go to support ongoing work by the Dulwich Centre with communities in Africa. In addition our pilot work and the development of the Team of Life Kit was undertaken as part of work within NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in the UK. A further percentage of proceeds from sales of the Team of Life Kit therefore go to the NHS.
First Team of Life group in Uganda

Commission Training

If you would like to commission Team of Life training for your team please contact us via [email protected] or complete the contact form to discuss your requirements

Our Trainers

Co-founder Riverbank Psychology

Victoria Eames

Dr Vicky Eames has worked as a clinical psychologist within both NHS adult and child & adolescent mental health services. She is an honorary research fellow at the University of Liverpool. Having worked within the mental health field in the NHS and independently for more than 25 years she is passionate about exploring ways of responding to trauma and developing resilience within community settings. Inspired by the work of David Denborough, Vicky trialled the Team of Life Collective Narrative Practice approach in schools and mental health services on the Wirral, leading to the development of the Team of Life Children's Programme programme and the Team of Life Kit.

Co-founder of Riverbank Psychology

Mariangels Ferrer

Having qualified as a psychologist in Spain in 1993, Mariangels has lived and worked in the UK for over 20 years including ten years in NHS inpatient and community paediatric settings. In addition to her qualification as a clinical psychologist, she has completed master's degrees in both Systemic Family Therapy and Narrative Therapy and Community Work. Mariangels offers training and supervision of practitioners in narrative and systemic practice across the UK as part of the teaching faculty of the Institute of Narrative Therapy. She delivers groups in schools in Trafford utilising the 'Tree of Life' and is engaging Genetic Counsellors from different parts of the UK with Narrative ideas through supervision, group intervention and training.

Schools Lead

Robin Johnson

Robin Johnson has 25 years teaching, pastoral care and senior leadership experience in schools. He has been a form teacher for most of his teaching career as well as a Head of Year, Head of Department and Assistant Headteacher. He is also a children’s author of a novel called Red Sky at Night in which ginger children save the world from alien invasion.


  • 1. Are there any specific qualifications required to become a certified facilitator?

    No specific qualifications are required to attend the training and become a facilitator. We aim to involve service users and experts by experience and young people working as peer mentors in the delivery of Team of Life as well as professionals.

  • 2. Are there any ongoing costs to becoming certified?

    Access to the Team of Life Online Hub is valid for one year. Following this a small additional administration fee (currently £25) is charged in order to have continued access to the Hub including resources that are regularly being updated. The downloadable resources can be printed for use with young people. There is no additional charge for this.

  • 3. How is training delivered?

    Training is delivered face to face, online via Zoom or through a self-study online course.

  • 4. Can I copy or share the Team of Life resources with colleagues?

    No, this would be a copyright infringement. The resources are for individual use by the person who has undertaken training. This is important to ensure that people delivering Team of Life have the necessary understanding of the approach. If you would like to purchase training as an organisation please contact us on [email protected]

  • 5. Can I attend training as a team?

    Yes! We highly recommend attending training as a team as you get added team building benefits due to the experiential nature of the training. Why not take time as a team to think about your shared values, support networks and goals? Contact us for more information.

  • 6. What age are the Team of Life Children’s Programmes aimed at?

    The Age 10-100 programme is aimed at any age and is suitable from approximately age 10 and is 5 sessions long. We have an additional programme aimed at children aged 7-13 that can be purchased separately by facilitators who have trained as a Team of Life Facilitator.

  • 7. Is Team of Life just for children?

    No, Team of Life is for everyone. You can use the approach with families, individuals, adults and staff groups to help build resilience and teams.

  • 8. Do you have to like sport to take part?

    No, our research has found that children enjoy and benefit from taking part in Team of Life whether or not they like sport. Team of Life doesn’t involve any sporting ability. It uses sporting metaphors which provide an easy to grasp universal language that is familiar to people of all ages. Space is provided to share knowledge and experience of sport good and bad.

  • 9. Is Team of Life aimed at boys?

    No, our research has shown that girls enjoy and benefit from Team of Life just as much.

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