Little Troopers runs a free tri-service therapy programme offering military-specific support for school-aged children in England from reception to age 18.

Funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, the programme offers a course of six, one-to-one sessions, delivered by a qualified therapist, face-to-face at the child’s home or in a local space agreed with each family. Each session focuses on a different topic related to military life, including emotional regulation, uncertainty and change, relationships, resilience and life-story work.

There is also an option for community groups and schools to book a group workshop for military teens.


One child who has been helped by the programme is Harry*, who is nine and lives with his mum, dad and younger brother.

His dad serves in the army and since Harry was born, has only been home for two of Harry’s birthdays. His dad was deployed for six months in both 2018 and 2019. Then, during the pandemic, Harry had to move in with his grandparents for six months because his mum is a nurse and she was caring for COVID patients. Following this stressful time, Harry’s dad was deployed again in 2021 and 2022.

Since 2018, the family started noticing problems with Harry’s behaviour. This was disruptive at school and also stopped the family from going on days out or booking a holiday.


Harry’s school already had lots of support in place for military children. His Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) worked with the family, but when his referral to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) was rejected, both his family and school were at a loss as to what to try next. It was then that the SENCO found out about the Little Troopers Therapy Programme and, with Harry’s family’s permission, referred him to the one-to-one scheme.

Within just a few weeks, Harry was allocated a therapist from the Owl Therapy Centre who worked through the programme. The sessions delved into Harry’s feelings about his dad being away and encouraged him to reflect on his experience of being a military child.


Harry and his therapist completed activities in the sessions including drawing, writing and mindfulness and Harry learnt new techniques to help manage his feelings whenever he feels sad and overwhelmed. When Harry started to open up about his feelings at home, Harry’s mum was able to contact the therapist who offered her additional support and reassurance. Harry was also able to take print-outs of the activities home to work through with his mum.

Harry’s mum explains: “The programme has made a huge difference. He has opened up a lot more at home. He’s been using the techniques he picked up on the programme and is much better at expressing how he is feeling.

“The programme has made such an impact on our lives; we’ll be grateful for a long time.”


Another child who has benefited is Jack*, who is seven. Jack’s dad, who serves in the special forces, is regularly deployed overseas, usually at short notice and sometimes on consecutive assignments. He regularly misses Christmas and Jack’s birthdays, and Jack rarely gets to speak to his dad while he’s away.

Jack and his family were settled in one location with a good support network until summer 2022 when the family were posted to the other end of the country and Jack had to move for the first time.

Jack found the move upsetting and stressful. He began to get angry, have tantrums and cried, asking to move back to his old house. His mood meant that it was tricky for him to make new friends at his new school, especially as none of his peers were military children. This quickly led to Jack not wanting to go to school.


Jack’s mum explains: “The move triggered a change in Jack’s behaviour, but I think a lot of what he was feeling was built-up, high levels of stress from constant change and uncertainty over the years.”

Jack’s mum approached the school for help and was referred to the SENCO team for an assessment, but she felt that Jack really needed support that was specific to military life.

During this time, a nursery worker from Jack’s brother’s nursery mentioned the Little Troopers Therapy Programme to Jack’s mum and she self-referred him to the programme.

Within a few weeks, Jack was assigned to a local therapist from the Owl Therapy Centre. She met Jack in person every week for six weeks to deliver a bespoke programme of one-to-one therapy that explored the challenges he has experienced, including deployment, separation and moving home and school.

The one-hour sessions were delivered in the comfort of Jack’s home so that he felt comfortable enough to open up and share his feelings.


His mum says: “The programme has been amazing and I am so thankful that the nursery mentioned it to me. It was really easy to self-refer and within a few weeks Jack was getting the help he needed.

“Every week he would look forward to his session and it made him feel special that his feelings and experiences were being acknowledged and heard. The therapist went out of her way to get to know Jack and make the sessions more personal.

“The sessions have made him feel proud about being a military child and I think they will help him cope with change in the future. I think that every single military child could benefit from something like this.”

The family is now planning to use the parent video series that is part of the programme to continue exploring Jack’s feelings together at home.

Referrals can be made by a parent, school, community group or welfare worker. For more information, see

*Names have been changed.

Related Posts