Ali Knowles - Creator of Ollie and his Superpowers


When I first crossed paths with ThoughtBox, it was immediately apparent just how much we had in common, both in terms of the work were are doing to support the emotional health of young people and also in our approaches to support the whole person in finding resilience to help themselves. The Ollie concept encourages children to think, to take control, to question and to finds solutions – just as the ThoughtBox curriculum aims to do –  we don’t give children fish, we teach them how to fish!

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Ollie and his Superpowers was my first offering, the idea emerging after becoming a cognitive therapist four years ago. I realised that we didn’t need another text book on how to help children with emotional and behavioural issues.  We needed something simple but effective.

I initially dealt with adult clients, but soon realised my affinity with children after one came along to a consultation. Soon after ideas for my book were born.

The concept is simple: ask a child to draw a heart and they can. Ask a child to draw an emotion and they can’t. By making emotions superpowers we give kids something they can relate to and control. If we can deal with issues while they are kids it makes so much difference to how they develop. By using the Ollie concept, we can help young people to leave unwanted emotional baggage behind as they grow into adults.

The true power of this model is that it is strength focused. Rather than being a therapy model that tells you what you should do, it asks you what you think you should do and gives you the tools to make the changes that best suit you as an individual.  As I have always said, “some therapies give you fish, the Ollie model teaches you to how fish!”

The Ollie model encourages both young and old to celebrate their individuality and to question their feelings and make decisions based on what’s right for them and what will help them be the best version of themselves.

Very much like ThoughtBox, the Ollie concept embraces the idea that one size does not fit all in a therapeutic model. Children are very individual and should be encouraged to be the best version of themselves whatever that may be.