People you’ll meet

Therapists & educational professionals

While your child goes through diagnosis and treatment, you may come across some specialist therapists and professionals.

Here is our handy guide to the types of professionals that are there to support your child and what they do.

Most therapies and other professional support is available through the NHS. If you need extra support, talk it over with your child’s paediatrician first.


What is a SENCO?

A special educational needs coordinator (SENCO for short) is a teacher who is responsible for special educational needs at school. All schools have a SENCO. They are usually a teacher or headteacher who takes on this extra role. SENCOs work with other teachers and parents to make sure that children with special educational needs get the right support and help they need at school.


What is an educational psychologist?

Educational psychologists help children or young people who are having problems that stop or limit them doing as well as they could at school. This can be about how they learn or how they participate in school.  Issues might include emotional, social or learning difficulties. Your school will call in an educational psychologist if they feel their support might help your child.


respite care for children with special needs

What is a disability social worker?

A disability social worker usually works for your local authority in a team. They specialise in understanding what you have to handle as a family. Their job is to help you by supporting you in a range of ways including respite care, emotional support and sibling and carer's groups. They will also know about local funding. Contact your local authority to find out more.


What is an paediatric consultant?

A paediatric consultant is a doctor who specialises in caring for children from birth to 18. You'll often meet them for the first time at your Child Development Centre. Their role is to coordinate with all the specialists your child has and develop a rounded understanding of your child's medical and developmental needs.


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What is The Health Professionals Council (HPC)?

They are a regulator set up to protect the public. To do this, they keep a register of health professionals who meet their standards for training, professional skills, behaviour and health.

The HPC currently regulate 15 health professions: arts therapists, biomedical scientists, chiropodists/podiatrists, clinical scientists, dietitians, hearing aid dispensers, occupational therapists, operating department practitioners, orthopedists, paramedics, physiotherapists, practitioner psychologists, prosthetics, radiographers, and speech and language therapists.

All of these professions have at least one professional title that is protected by law, including those shown above. This means, for example, that anyone using the titles 'physiotherapist' or 'dietitian' must be registered with the HPC. Check if your therapist is registered.


What is a psychologist?

A child psychologist is like a therapist. They talk with children and try to help them with their emotions and problems. Often they will work with the whole family and can help a wide range of behavioral and emotional problems.

How to find a psychologist

Directory of Chartered Psychologists: search for a psychologist offering services to the public.

List of Chartered Members: check whether a person is a Chartered Psychologist.

Association of Child Psychologists in Private Practice: this one has a great search facility.

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What is a physiotherapist?

Physiotherapists can help children affected by injury, illness or disability through movement and exercise, manual therapy, education and advice. Physiotherapists help treat physical problems linked to a number of the body's systems, including bones, joints, heart and lungs.

How to find a physiotherapist

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP): The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy is the profession's largest membership organisation.

The Physiotherapy Site: all of the physiotherapy practices registered with the Physiotherapist Site are qualified to practise in the UK and are also registered with the Health Professions Council (HPC), which supervises all UK physiotherapists. In addition to satisfying all the educational and regulatory requirements of the HPC, the Physiotherapist Site has its own more stringent admission criteria for clinics wishing to participate in the network. All Physiotherapists must have at least 5 years’ experience in practice (although 90% have more than 10 years’ experience) and be recognised by most major health insurance providers.

Physio First: Physio First is the organisation which represents physiotherapists in private practice. It was launched in 1952 to promote the highest standards of clinical physiotherapy practice.

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What is an occupational therapist?

Occupational therapists can help children with everyday activities, like washing, eating, going to school and writing. They can give advice on adapting your home to meet your child’s needs. They can assess your child for mobility aids and wheelchairs around the home and at school.

How to find an occupational therapist

If you are not sure where to start, talk it over with your GP, social worker, nurse, physiotherapist, or any other professional who knows you and who may be able to point you in the right direction.

If a referral from a professional is needed, they may be able to do this for you, but you may be able to refer yourself. Be prepared to give information on the difficulty you are having and how that is affecting your life. Ask if there is a waiting list.

The College of Occupational Therapists (COT) has a Specialist Section for occupational therapists working in independent (private) practice. All occupational therapists who are members of COT Specialist Section Independent Practice are fully qualified and registered with the Health Professions Council (HPC).


What is a speech and language therapist?

Speech therapists help children of all ages with different speech and language disorders. They can help children who have difficulty producing and using speech, understanding and using language or have difficulty with feeding, chewing or swallowing.

How to find a speech therapist

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists: this is the professional body for speech and language therapists in the UK.

Health Professions Council: you can check if therapists are registered on this site.

The Association of Speech and Language Therapists in Independent Practice: independent therapists may be contacted via this website. The Association of Speech and Language Therapists In Independent Practice (ASLTIP) provides information about independent speech and language therapists throughout the United Kingdom.


What are music, art and drama therapists?

Art therapists help people express thoughts and feelings through creative activities. This can be in art, music or drama.

How to find a music therapist

How to find an art therapist

Health Professions Council (HPC)

How to find a drama therapist

The British Association for Dramatherapists (BADTH)
Health Professions Council (HPC)


What is a dietician?

A Dietitian is a food and nutrition expert. A Dietician helps to promote nutritional well-being, treat disease and prevent nutrition- related problems.

How to find a dietician

The title ‘dietician’ can only be used by appropriately trained professionals who have registered with the Health Professions Council.

The British Dietetic Association: Established in 1936, this is the professional association for dietitians.

Other dietician groups that you might find useful:

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