We didn’t know where to turn next…then we found Lee. He was recommended to us by a family friend and we really didn’t know what to expect. No one in our family had ever had therapy before but we were willing to give it a go. And all I can say is: THANK GOD WE DID!
Lee spoke with Jacob once a week via video call, his approach was gentle and soothing and normalised something that in our house had become this gargantuan beast of stress and negativity. He helped Jacob* to understand what was happening to his body when he was experiencing episodes of anxiety, panic and surges of adrenaline. Lee drew basic sketches while they talked and presented them to Jacob so that Jacob had a very clear visual representation of what was happening to him. He gave him techniques to help alleviate the adrenaline surge and Jacob’s inbuilt reaction to flee/avoid a situation that he perceived as ‘dangerous’ or ‘threatening’.
Each week they worked through different elements to adjust Jacob’s mindset and help him to understand what it was that was bothering him so much and how he could resolve those issues himself. Building his confidence and his self esteem also played a major part in this. Lee encouraged Jacob to keep a very basic daily diary of his achievements, and this definitely helped him to see that he was achieving things on a daily basis. Each session was incredibly positive and really focussed on the successes of that week no matter how small. And bit by bit we started to see improvements and by the start of the Spring Term he was going in to school every day without any problems. We are aware that his anxieties are still with him, albeit to a lesser degree, and we work on a regular basis to keep them in check and employ the techniques Lee has taught him, but I genuinely don’t think he/we would have made this progress without Lee’s support and ability to shine light on his darkest of weeks.
I asked my son how he would describe Lee and he said;
‘He’s very friendly and very empathetic. He unscrambles my worries and he always stays calm. Sometimes you (mum and dad) get a bit emotional about it, Lee helps me to talk about things without getting frustrated or upset. I always feel better once we’ve had a chat.’
As a parent, seeing your child in any form of distress and not having the tools to ‘fix the problem’ is heart breaking. I will be forever grateful that we were introduced to Lee.
*name changed to protect annonymityTestimonial from a parent
I have known Lee for four years now. With over ten years’ experience as a senior leader in top independent schools in Cambridge I am well aware of the challenges teenagers face and the support some of them desperately need to achieve their full potential. I am equally familiar with just how tough it is to find someone who actually makes a difference. There are plenty of kind and well-meaning individuals around, but Lee is by far the best at actually making a difference on a practical level. I have seen students he has supported make remarkable progress, academically and in terms of their well-being and mental health, in a matter of weeks. Those I have been extremely concerned about have gone on not only to secure a place at a top university (something unthinkable prior to his support) but to thrive there equipped with resilience, independence and the confidence to ask for support when it was needed.
What makes Lee different is that he is much more than a ‘friendly, approachable, independent ear’, though this is undoubtedly true too. Actual, practical advice is the foundation of every interaction. ‘Homework’ is given and it makes a difference. Progress is measured and visible to the individuals involved. Discretion and confidentiality are a given and never in doubt. Were a member of my own family to be in need of support and mentoring, his would be the first number I would call. I cannot recommend Lee highly enough.
Dr Lucy SweatmanDr Lucy Sweatman
To Whom it may concern
Lee Parker- Cambridge Academic Performance
Lee Parker from Cambridge Academic Performance has been working with children in our school since the middle of the summer term. This began with an initial trial with one child for a six week period and as a result of that we now employ Lee on a weekly basis to work with three children at a time.
We are using Lee to provide SEMH intervention for children with a range of difficulties from a medium level to very severe needs. Lee works in a CBT way with the children usually over a 6 week period.
As a mental health practitioner we have found that Lee’s work is very different to other counselling/ mental health intervention we have had in the past. Lee’s work is focussed on helping the children overcome practical difficulties which are causing barriers to their mental well being and learning in the classroom. He is excellent at giving both school and the children simple practical tools which can easily be implemented to lead to rapid change in the classroom.
Lee is also the most perceptive mental health professional I have worked with in recent years. He quickly understands exactly what the problem is with the children and builds up excellent relationships with them in a very short space of time. His whole methodology is solution focussed which is very different to professionals we have used in the past where children have had long periods of counselling work, which have made them feel better but nothing in their school behaviour or learning has actually changed.
Lee also writes detailed reports which we have been able to use successfully for referrals to outside agencies and his advice has been invaluable in planning for the mental health needs of children who have been having real difficulties in school.
I would not hesitate to recommend the services of Cambridge Academic Performance for working with children with SEMH in school. This is the most perceptive and successful mental health intervention we have been able to access during the five years I have been in this role.
Sarah Barratt, Inclusion CoordinatorSt Matthews Primary School, Cambridge
Julian Davies, Principal Abbey College Cambridge writes:
Lee Parker has worked with us in Abbey College Cambridge for four academic years and has proved a tremendous asset to the school and its community during this time. He has an approach to the counselling of young people with psychological needs that enables them to talk through sensitive and highly personal issues, often for the first time.
Before working with Lee, we found many students would therefore not seek help with their problems. With Lee’s approach we are seeing a far higher uptake of support with students reporting that they are being helped by their sessions with him. An example of the approach taken by Lee is the rebadging of counselling, as academic mentoring. This has the effect of circumventing the stigma of language and enables students to tie the support they receive to the ultimate purpose of their time in our college – academic work.
This has proven of particular benefit to us as many of our students come from countries and cultures that have a less sophisticated understanding of the problems young people can have. This can result in students being very reluctant to talk about problems for fear of negative judgments being made and for fear of negative consequences from family and peers. As such ‘counselling’ can be viewed negatively and shunned. Lee’s approach successfully overcomes these barriers and enables such students to start to understand their problems and make progress in overcoming them.
We hope to continue to benefit from Lee’s work into the foreseeable future.
Principal, Abbey College Cambridge
13th November 2015Julian Davies, Principal Abbey College Cambridge,
Abbey College Cambridge
Parent Feedback from a Mother who is also a Parent coach:
It became clear to us that it was important to find the right way to help our Yr 11 daughter gain confidence and study skills more than targeting a particular subject. With Lee’s approach, our daughter has learnt tips to manage all her revision and exam techniques which has helped her stay calm and increase her confidence. We noticed as the sessions progressed, our daughter would look forward to them, and was full of beans afterwards.
As both a parent, and someone who coaches parents myself in parenting skills, I am acutely aware of the stress and lack of confidence many children, teens and young adults face. This stress directly affects their self esteem which is already shaky in adolescence and their ability to reach their true potential.
I would recommend Lee’s sessions to any parent who is looking for ways to help their child feel more confident. As parents, we felt it was the best investment of our money and our daughter’s limited time to go with Lee’s approach.
As a parenting educator, I am very happy to continue recommending Lee‘s service to other parents.
Judy July 2015Parent Feedback
“Lee helped me in so many ways, and I was so sad to say goodbye to him. The best thing is, though, that he has given me the tools to survive without help. I went straight into a job after my degree and am now completing a Masters alongside working full time.”
Anonymous BSC Student,
Cambridge University 2013
“I used to think that trying to get help (for the big issues or for the small issues) was a sign of weakness, and was not for me. I am so glad that I asked Lee for help, as now I also feel able to get help from my friends and family.”Ally PhD student,
Cambridge University 2013
“ It fills an obvious gap that is not purely about revision technique and is not counselling for emotional problems, but falls into the middle area of academic stress and worry that many students have to deal with.”
Parents of a GCSE student July 2014
“As a conscientious person I wanted to do more work as quickly as possible whilst making no errors at all. This resulted in a large amount of unnecessary strain, which actually hindered my effectiveness and lowered my levels of achievement.”
Jenny, August 2013
I am delighted to write in support of Lee Parker. I have known Lee professionally for the last six years where we both worked with young people experiencing a first episode of psychotic illness in Cambridgeshire.
What I learnt most from Lee over this time was that having a practical, solution focused approach to problems and focusing on the positive ability and strengths of individuals rather than difficulties was both highly valued by the people he worked with, and very successful. He had a particular gift for engaging young people and students and providing tailored, individualised packages to help them reach whatever goals they had, whether academic or otherwise.
Lee is passionate about his work, and has always gone the extra mile to help young people. He is approachable, discrete and completely professional.
I would have complete confidence in recommending him to any young person who requires some additional help in achieving their goals.Dr Belinda Lennox,
BMedSci BM BS MRCPsych Clinical Senior Lecturer Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist
Lee Parker currently works within CATS College in Cambridge and provides an independent Service to support some of our students.
As the school College Nurse, I have referred a few students to Lee over the past few months. He has supported students who struggle with depression, anxiety, general well- being and other mental health issues.
Lee is very professional, communicates extremely well with our students and offers practical and simple solutions to help them excel in what they do.
I have receive a lot of positive feed- back from students as they find Lee Parker very professional yet flexible, non- judgmental, a good listener and his solutions have been extremely helpful.
I find Lee Parker to be very skilled, experienced, hardworking and reliable.
There is a need for his services within our college and other Schools/ CollegesGloria Quartey,
CATS College Cambridge, Nurse
I worked with Lee Parker for 6 years, between 2007 and 2013, in the award winning Cambridge community mental health team CAMEO. Lee is extremely professional, discrete, hard-working, reliable and trustworthy. He is highly knowledgeable about mental health, well-being, and about how to optimise academic and occupational performance, whether this involves overcoming a disability or enhancing existing strengths. He has many years experience working with students with a wide range of difficulties including Asperger’s syndrome, depression and anxiety. Lee has excellent communication and people skills and offers practical solutions that enable students to attain their goals. I recommend him very highly.Dr Graham Murray,
Graham K Murray PhD MD MRCPsych University of Cambridge