BUSS began as a clinical intervention for children who have experienced disruption to their early development. It was developed by Sarah Lloyd when she was working in a joint Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service / Social Work team supporting foster carers and the children they were looking after. BUSS is intended to sit alongside psychological therapies. It adds an understanding of the impact of that very early disruption (from conception through the first 3 years of life) on a child’s motor development and understanding the importance of loving relationships and an inherent need to move in order to develop bodily regulation. Good bodily regulation is knowing our own body from the inside and being able to do things in a co-ordinated way, usually without having to give it too much thought. Thinking about child development, this foundation of bodily regulation is the bottom of a pyramid on which other things can be built. Once a child has good bodily regulation, play, making friends, being able to think about how they’re feeling, and learning, can develop.
Lots of things can get in the way of this stepped progression through these stages of development at the beginning of a baby’s life, like illness, abuse, or neglect. Where that has happened, children can struggle to move and play in a way that looks smooth and well co-ordinated. They might bump into things or fall over more than their peers. They might over or under respond to things in their everyday environment, like noise or touch. Things like sitting down and writing or eating might be challenging. Sometimes children can describe a sense of not being able to get their body to do what they’re wanting it to do, and develop ways of compensating for that, perhaps by doing things very fast or avoiding situations where those skills are needed.
A lot of work with children who have experienced disruption to their development focuses on relational and psychological therapies. These can be complemented by an intervention like BUSS which is a ‘bottom up’ therapy, building that foundation of good bodily regulation and relationship so that a child or young person is more able to use other relationships and therapies if they might be helpful to them.
BUSS was developed to bring together the importance of loving relationships with the development of bodily regulation. Observations from clinical work, the feedback we have from parents and children and the evidence that we’re gathering from research, shows us that even if this process didn’t happen at the right stage of development, it’s not too late! The brain has amazing capacity to fill in the gaps in foundation sensorimotor systems, when a child or young person is in an environment where they’re loved and well cared for. BUSS can be used from birth to early adulthood and we find that however old a child or young person is, establishing a good foundation of bodily regulation helps with play, emotional regulation, friendships, and learning.
One of the cornerstones of BUSS, is that the relationships that a child and young person has with their parents and carers is the most important relationship. We want to work alongside parents and carers so that they can support the development of their child’s foundation sensorimotor systems. We talk about parents and carers being the main agents of change – we can support and guide, but the work that is done at home is what builds regulation. And it’s great see that, by working in this way, those relationships also grow.
BUSS can be delivered as an individual programme of work, or as part of an early years group. We run (and support other people to run) groups for preschool children and their foster carers and new adoptive parents and their newly adopted children. More recently, we’ve started to work with colleagues in education, developing programmes of work for children in early years settings, so that they can work with and support children and their parents and carers in this way of working.
We hope that you’ll find this website useful – there’s information about the model (including why early motor experiences are so critical to later development), therapy, group work, BUSS in education, and training. There are also reflections from parents and professionals who have used the model. We’re always happy to talk to people so do get in touch with us if we can be of any help – info@BUSSModel.org.
– Louise Michelle Bombèr, Founding Director of TouchBase.org.uk
– Diane McSharry, Education Officer for Children with a Social Worker at Cumbria Virtual School
– Candia Slaughter and Mel Campbell, Specialist Paediatric Occupational Therapists, Therapeutic Services and Trauma Team at Beacon House
"The most interesting part was listening to Sarah explain the model in such an informative engaging, warm, and passionate way"
"A fascinating much needed training. Really well delivered and balance of theory and real life experience."
This will be the most valuable training you could ever do. Totally changed my thinking and understanding of the children I work with. The BUSS Model is the missing piece of the jigsaw and Sarah makes her incredible knowledge so accessible. One not to miss.
"Very well explained- loved the use of analogies, good overview of theoretical underpinnings with practical strategies. Inspiring, Informative, and engaging"
“For her to feel comfortable walking down the stairs without being afraid was the biggest accomplishment I can think of, and in a very short space of time. I would definitely highly recommend this work; an essential understanding of what has been missed or gotten stuck and how it affects the body.”
"Inspiring, excellent, and thought provoking. Loved how active the training session is. The videos were really helpful."
"I found it interesting, thought-provoking, and enlightening. A lightbulb moment!"
“It’s been a fantastic, thought provoking training – highlights simple techniques that can make such a huge qualitative difference to our children’s lives!”
"I think it's worked brilliantly and I've found it easier to fit into my life in terms of childcare and work commitments."
"It’s amazing that something that’s so completely life changing can be so much fun!”
"It was fun! I most enjoyed the interactive parts of the day, and found the atmosphere to be friendly and relaxed throughout. Good use of metaphors and analogies, and videos throughout to aid explanations"
“We were struggling to understand how this physical work could help her emotionally, but the improvement so far has been remarkable. We have noticed that her reactions to unexpected situations are much more measured, school has fed back that she is calmer when she is there and that they can reason with her much more easily, she seems to be able to stay in the moment a little longer and generally seems less angry and frustrated all round. We will be continuing with great gusto and hoping that the improvements will continue!”
“The best thing is that the strategies are easy to do – don’t focus on feelings and emotional issues. Children might enjoy the practical suggestions rather than trying to explain ‘why’ they’re doing something they shouldn’t.”
“Very inspiring trainer: so passionate and knowledgeable with a cheeky sense of humour brought everything alive.”
“Thank you, really motivated to incorporate this into school”
“The impact so far on our daughter is remarkable. Our main concerns were around the way she manages her emotions, mainly at school and when playing with other children. She can feel very angry very quickly at seemingly small things. She also struggles to sit still and can’t cope with unpredictability. These were impacting on her friendships and her learning.”
“My own personal understanding of what’s going on with my child and what they need is incredible. I have learned so much in the last few months and become really creative in how to use the sensory integration techniques in everyday life. Taste tests, exercise balls, balancing and combat crawling fun games that have been adapted to suit my child.”
"I think my balance has really improved - i can do skateboarding now and that makes me feel happy. I feel as if I've accomplished something that I used to think was really scary"
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