Next Training Dates

Free facilitator training places for practitioners in Cheshire & Merseyside

  • 17th & 18th August 2023

    9.30-1pm via Zoom (both dates must be attended)

  • 11th September 2023

    9.30-4.30pm via Zoom

  • 6th & 9th October 2023

    9.30-1pm via Zoom (both dates must be attended)

The TEAM approach to building resilience

Empowering children to develop a sense of connected identity and share their skills and knowledge using Narrative Therapy

Team of Life is a structured programme that helps children to recognise and build their support networks and become more aware of their strengths and achievements. The use of sporting metaphors enables children to develop rich strength-based stories of skill and knowledge for tackling problems, avoiding obstacles and achieving their goals in life. Research by the University of Liverpool has shown that the Team of Life helps children to be less socially withdrawn, feel less isolated and promotes sociable behaviour.

Engaging children with the language of sport not the language of problems

As part of our work with schools and NHS Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services, we have developed a resilience programme for children aged 7-13 using sporting metaphors. The Team of Life is a strength-based approach that comes from a type of counselling called narrative therapy. Using the language of sport, the Team of Life invites people to identify key support people or ‘team-mates’ in their lives. This builds resilience by enabling them to build a sense of social support and connected identity.

Reducing social isolation

Team of Life helps reduce social withdrawal and increase pro-social behaviour

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. Research, led by University of Liverpool in partnership with Cheshire & Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, has shown the Team of Life helps children to recognise the support around them, reduces social withdrawal and increases positive sociable behaviour.

Telling stories in ways that make us stronger

A cross-cultural narrative methodology using sporting metaphors

Given the strong associations between social inequality, race and ethnicity and mental health, more programmes are needed that move beyond an internal and individual focus and take into account people’s social and cultural context. Originating in work with former child soldiers in Uganda (Denborough, 2008), the Team of Life is one such approach that is currently being rolled out within schools and community settings within the UK including survivors of Grenfell Tower.

Key Features

  • Children 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.

  • Children 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.


Children and young people who have experienced, for example;

  • 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.


A randomised control trial led by University of Liverpool showed the programme was more effective than enhanced pastoral care following transition to secondary schools. Groups led by staff in schools trained by us showed the programme helped children to:

  • Feel less isolated

  • Be less socially withdrawn

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

Goal Maps

An example of one of the narrative  activities in the programme are Goal Maps. 

Goal Maps are a really important part of the programme as they help children and young people to share the story of how they worked together with their team to ‘score’ an important goal in their life.

"Goal Maps kinda gave me an idea of other ways to reach my goals and people I could use ‘cause I have many goals but normally I don’t ask people to help me out, I try and do it solo, but it doesn’t always work out, so it really made me think about other people I could ask for help if I need to achieve a goal.”

Charlie's Goal Map

Charlie tells the story of their goal map showing how they worked together with their team to make new friends.

Team of Life Resources

Fully downloadable resource pack that include a comprehensive syllabus of structured sessions, along with all necessary supporting materials to enable facilitators to deliver our Team of Life Children’s Programme.

Team of Life Facilitator Training

Once you have enrolled you will have full access to the Team of Life Hub where you will be able to access all the resources, online training and community to connect with us and other practitioners so that you can be supported in your ongoing Team of Life practice.

  • Team of Life Facilitator Training

    Blended learning options including face to face experiential workshop, online interactive workshop or self-study. See dates below.

  • Team of Life Children's Programme - Facilitator's Manual

    Step by step guidance and session plans enabling you to deliver the programme.

  • Team of Life Resources

    Download, print and re-use session plans, handouts and PowerPoint support.


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.


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

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 Children's Programme

Sabahat Malik – Senior Practitioner, Hertfordshire Partnership 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 true to changing lives. Most of all, the CYPs absolutely loved it and took away valuable, everyday life skills.”

Team of Life

Laura North, Family Worker Bucks MHST

"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 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 EMHP

"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, EMHP, Alder Hey MHST

(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

What children have said about Team of Life

“It helps people to not get sad over small things anymore and feel people are there for them.” 

It reminds you of who’s there for you, and like who can look after you when you’re down.” 

“I started feeling more confidence just ‘cause people around me who I know would help, and that I would have a support from other places, such as home.”

“Yeah like treat people better and erm, like if I see someone who’s feeling down, like go and talk to them.”

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Thank You

  • Team of Life Facilitator Training - one full day or two half days online workshop with Dr Vicky Eames & Mariangels Ferrer

  • Team of Life Children's Programmes - online access to step by step facilitator's guidance and session plans to both the 10 session and new 5 session Team of Life programmes aimed at children aged 7-13.

  • 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.

  • Team of Life Video Library - footage of elements of Team of Life being delivered by David Denborough

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 Children’s 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

  • Ideas for using Team of Life among staff groups