What is Therapeutic Fostering? Things to Know About Therapeutic Fostering

on November 7, 2018

At Fostering People, we take a unique approach. We believe that all children, and young people, who come to be cared for by one of our foster carers, should receive therapeutic fostering. This is because we believe it is the most successful and supportive way to help them with the difficulties they will have faced.

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All You Need to Know About Therapeutic Foster Care

therapeutic foster care

Therapeutic Fostering Defined

All foster carers, through their outlook and their training, are focused on providing for the needs of a foster child in their care. However, therapeutic fostering requires additional skills. They aren’t just ‘parenting’ the child in their care but doing so in a way which therapeutically helps to give the child skills to cope with the difficulties they may face, whether that be low self-esteem, trauma or loss.

This requires the foster carer to take a conscious approach to thinking and learning about the child and understanding what has happened in their life to date. They then use this knowledge skilfully to support the child’s development on a psychological, emotional and social level.

The ultimate aim of therapeutic fostering is that a child will develop the resources to thrive, despite any difficult start in life. They should grow in confidence, be more capable socially, and engage with those around them and their education.

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There’s no set model

While training is provided to enable our foster carers to care therapeutically; we acknowledge that it cannot be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. However, all approaches have at their core a willingness of the foster carer to think specifically about the child in a therapeutic way.

Therapeutic fostering is not the same as a weekly defined session with a therapist. This can indeed be helpful for some children in foster care. Therapeutic fostering, however, is about making the foster child’s home environment therapeutically supportive in all their interactions with the foster carer.

At Fostering People, we have been provided with instrumental help in equipping our foster carers with therapeutic fostering techniques by Dan Hughes and Kim Golding, authors of the book Creating Loving Attachments: Parenting with PACE.

PACE stands for Play, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy. These principles provide the bedrock of therapeutic parenting. These principles allow a child to begin to build attachments with their caregiver and, ultimately, start to heal from their trauma. The result is helping a child to become more secure, confident and happy.

This type of parenting approach, offered in a foster care setting, is particularly vital for children who have experienced attachment difficulties during their early life.

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Being a PACE Foster Carer

While training is provided to enable our foster carers to care therapeutically; we acknowledge that it cannot be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. However, all approaches have at their core a willingness of the foster carer to think specifically about the child in a therapeutic way.

It is the PACE approach which gives our foster carers the skills to understand a child’s experience and work with the child to understand the causes and rationale behind their behaviours. This approach allows parents to see behaviour as a signal of need, at an emotional and psychological level. This elicits a more proactive response which is nurturing rather than a reactive discipline approach which can serve to exacerbate problems.

In our experience, foster children who are cared for by foster carers trained in the PACE approach, thrive. They become more open to attachment and trust in the support being given to them. Their self-esteem grows, and, in turn, they are better able to manage their own negative behaviours and responses.

Kim Golding has provided training to many of our social workers so that they can, in turn, support our foster carers in using a therapeutic approach. We are immensely proud that our foster parents are equipped with the tools to transform the lives of children in care.

You can find out more about therapeutic fostering here.

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