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What is Therapeutic Care?

Updated: Oct 26, 2023



Introduction


The purpose of this article is to try and provide some understanding of what ‘therapeutic care’ means in regard to its use in the children’s residential home setting.


Differentiating between therapeutic care and therapy can sometimes be difficult. It is not uncommon for people to assume that working in a therapeutic way means engaging in therapy itself in the traditional sense. However, much more can be achieved and better outcomes attained, if those involved in providing care recognise that they can support their young people on a day to day basis in a therapeutic manner. Here we set out the distinction and highlight some ways that carers can play a significant role in the delivery of therapeutic care.


Training & Development


In recent years, there has been a focus on training care team members within residential care on therapeutic approaches. The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) states that ‘therapeutic approaches’ is a term used to describe ways of working in which residential childcare workers use a therapeutic perspective in their day-to-day social work with children and young people.


The SCIE provide further clarification which explains that these approaches:

  • Help staff attain a better understanding of how young people’s early life experiences have shaped their internal working models

  • Provide an explanation of how those experiences drive the young person’s actions and behaviours

  • Help staff recognise the emotional needs of young people and looks at efficient ways of building their resilience.

It is important to recognise that these approaches do not replace therapeutic interventions such as evidenced based trauma focused therapies. These would be specialisms like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and other therapies that requires one to spend years in training and their qualification to be recognised by a licensed governing body such as the BACP or HCPC. These therapies remain a crucial part of the overall support package to young people but differ from therapeutic care in that they are more precise in their focus and delivery.


Think of therapeutic care as a wraparound service and a way of being.


Carers working in a therapeutic way may considering the following when supporting their young people:


Environment:

Therapeutic care practices might take into consideration the nature of the environment the young person is living in, by this we might reflect on how important it is for the environment to encompass a calm and nurturing feel.


Family & lived experiences:

We must all recognise that young people living in care are likely to have come from a background which lacked safety, nurture, and routine. Of course this is not always the case but focusing on those areas are likely to contribute to the improvement in young people’s lives.


The PACE model of care:

Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity, and Empathy is a great way to foster engagement with young people and lends itself nicely to working therapeutically.


Considering how we talk to young people, the tone of our voices when interacting with them, the practice of active listening and showing curiosity and enthusiasm. These are all ways of working therapeutically and can allow for the young person to feel safe, listened to, and respected.


Working therapeutically is something we can all aim to do. Doing so should provide a calmer, safer living environment, that also allows for better relationships to be developed between the young person and members of the care team. It requires carers to be aware of how a young person’s early life experiences have contributed to the development of internal working models, and how these in turn drive behaviours. It can help caregivers make sense of the presenting behaviours being shown and instils a mindset suitable for helping build resilience.


Through regular training, support in team consultation and one to one work with key workers and young people, our team at bMindful Psychology work with many carers across both children’s homes and foster care settings to support them in developing a solid understanding of the therapeutic care model.


This approach has demonstrated that better outcomes for the young person can be achieved, is regularly commended by ofsted and importantly supports the wellbeing and retention of care teams working in a hugely demanding environment.


If you would like to find out more about how bMindful can support you please feel free to contact us on 0161 510 0111 or email hello@bmindfulpsychology.co.uk


Thanks for reading!

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