The model underpinning our work
The model that underpins all of our work is an attachment focused approach that reflects the importance of therapeutic relationships.
Our model of care/treatment reflects the process of Dyadic Development; this is based on the premise that the emotional development of children and young people is dependent upon and highly influenced by the nature of the carer-child relationship.
Such a relationship, especially with regard to the child’s attachment security and emotional development, requires on-going, dyadic (reciprocal) experiences between carer and child. The carer is attuned to the child’s subjective experience, makes sense of those experiences, and communicates them back to the child.
Dyadic Developmental Practice has been developed by Dan Hughes over the past twenty years. It is based on a theoretical understanding of attachment and intersubjective relationships; and the impact of developmental trauma.
When a child’s early attachment history consists of abuse, neglect, and/or multiple placement breakdown’s, s/he has failed to experience the dyadic interaction that are necessary for normal development and s/he often has a reduced readiness and ability to participate in such experiences. Many children, when placed in residential care that provide therapeutic parenting, are able to learn, day by day, how to engage in and benefit from the dyadic experiences provided by the carer.
For successful intervention, the model suggests a strong focus on parenting principles, that facilitate security of attachments and which incorporate an attitude based on: (PACE) playfulness, acceptance, curiosity, and empathy.
Playfulness: is about creating an atmosphere of lightness and interest when you communicate. It’s about having fun, and expressing a sense of joy. Playful moments reassure both that their conflicts and separations are temporary and will never harm the strength of their relationship. Having a playful stance isn’t about being funny all the time or making jokes when a child is sad. It’s about helping children be more open to and experience what is positive in their life, one step at a time.
Acceptance: is about actively communicating to the child that you accept the wishes, feelings, thoughts, urges, motives and perceptions that are underneath the outward behaviour. Unconditional acceptance is at the core of the child’s sense of safety. Accepting the child’s intentions does not imply accepting behavior, which may be hurtful or harmful to another person or to self. The carer may be very firm in limiting behaviour while at the same time accepting the motives for the behaviour.
Curiosity: without judgement, is how we help children become aware of their inner self, reflect upon the reasons for their behaviour, and then communicate it to their carers. Curiosity is wondering about the meaning behind the behaviour for the child. Curiosity lets the child know that the adults understand. Children often know that their behaviour was not appropriate. They often do not know why they did it or are reluctant to tell adults why.
With curiosity the carers are conveying their intention to simply understand why and to help the child with understanding. The carers intentions are to truly understand and help the child, not to lecture or convey that the child’s inner life is wrong in some way.
Empathy: lets the child feel the carer’s compassion for them. Being empathic means the carer actively showing the child that the child’s inner self is important to the adult and he or she wants to be with the child in their hard times. With empathy, when the child is sad or in distress the carer is feeling the sadness and distress with them and lets the child know that. The carer is demonstrating that he or she knows how difficult an experience is for the child. The carer is telling the child that they will not have to deal with the distress alone.
We strongly believe that through our expertise, positive role modelling and therapeutic ‘parenting’ undertaken by the team, facilitates Young People to fully experience appropriate attachments. These relationships empower Young People to build, possibly for the first time, a trusting relationship, which impacts on all areas of their development and future progress
A securely attached Child or Young Person learns trust and reciprocity, which serves as a template for all future emotional relationships. It allows them to explore their environment with feelings of safety and security, which leads to healthy cognitive and social development.
Children and Young People develop the ability to self-regulate, which ensures effective management of their impulses and emotions, thereby reducing unsociable and harmful behaviours.
A secure attachment with our carers, acting as therapeutic parents enables Children and Young People to also gain empowering feelings of self-worth and develop a better balance between dependence and autonomy. We believe furthermore, that it enables their pro social moral framework to be developed, where empathy and compassion towards others is developed. By working closely with the Child or Young Person, this also provides a defence, resourcefulness and resilience against current and future stressors and trauma.