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Therapeutic Parenting

What is Therapeutic Parenting?

Therapeutic Parenting dramatically improves outcomes for children and Foster Parents.

Therapeutic Parenting is

– a deeply nurturing parenting style, with a foundation of self-awareness and a central core of mentalization, developed from consistent, empathic, insightful responses to a child’s distress and behaviours; allowing the child to begin to self-regulate, develop an understanding of their own behaviours and ultimately form secure attachments –

Therapeutic parenting is a term commonly used for Foster Parents, Adopters, Special Guardians and Kinship Carers who are looking after children who may have suffered trauma. This may be through early life neglect and/or abuse. Therapeutic parenting is also used for biological children, particularly where there may have been pre-birth trauma, separation, illness or any other factor affecting the child’s functioning and understanding of the world, or affecting their attachment. Many biological parents also find therapeutic parenting styles useful to use with children who are on the autistic spectrum or have high cortisol levels and/or ADHD.

In fact, therapeutic parenting is beneficial for all children due to its reliance on firm boundaries and structure with a strong empathic and nurturing response.

The aim of therapeutic parenting is

– to enable the child to recover from the trauma that they have experienced. This is done by developing new neural pathways in the child’s brain to help them to link cause and effect, reduce their levels of fear and shame, and to help them to start to make sense of their world.

The TRUE Model (Therapeutic Re-parenting Underpinned by Empathy/Experience) was devised by Sarah Naish and enhances placement (family) stability and also dramatically reduces instances where Foster Parents feel unsupported.  This fostering agency  has taken very seriously the research carried out by the Hadley Centre (Bristol University) into compassion fatigue and foster care, and the isolation,  blame and resulting family (placement) breakdown which may result from compassion fatigue. The TRUE model relies on three distinct supporting professionals;

1) The Supervising Social Worker, responsible for ensuring all statutory targets are met, including effective training, safeguarding etc. Closely liaising with the Attachment Project Worker, and supervising the Child Support Worker.

2) The Attachment Project Worker, responsible for providing meaningful, empathic listening and working through solutions where there are deep levels of trauma resulting in exceptionally difficult behaviours. The APW also plays a vital role in helping the Foster Parent to stay connected to the child and to avoid compassion fatigue or blocked care. The APW is supervised by an attachment therapist or similar, using the Dan Hughes model of intervention DDP. (Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy).

3) The Children’s Support Worker, responsible for maintaining a relationship with the child, ensuring their point of view is reflected and heard at meetings and contributing to planning. The CSW plays a vital role by maintaining continuity for the child by ensuring visits are made if the child should go to a respite placement. This role has become more important due to frequent changes in the child’s statutory Social Worker.