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green leaf icon

Adoption and Special Guardianship Support Services

We are a creative and dynamic multidisciplinary team that offers an innovative assessment
and therapeutic service for adoptive parents and special guardians

green leaf icon

Adoption and Special Guardianship Support Services

We are a creative and dynamic multidisciplinary team that offers an innovative assessment
and therapeutic service for adoptive parents and special guardians

green leaf icon

Adoption and Special Guardianship
Support Services

We are a creative and dynamic multidisciplinary team that offers an innovative assessment
and therapeutic service for adoptive parents and special guardians

green leaf icon

Adoption and Special Guardianship
Support Services

We are a creative and dynamic multidisciplinary team that offers an innovative assessment
and therapeutic service for adoptive parents and special guardians

Post Adoption Support for Parents and Special Guardians

It is widely recognised that working with children and young people who have experienced early life adversity, trauma and neglect requires specialist knowledge, expertise and skills. Children who have been adopted or are under the care of special guardians often have profoundly complex developmental needs. Some may have been exposed to prenatal adversity or suffered from multiple attachment disruptions and neglectful care during critical periods of brain development.  This can result in a child suffering from a wide range of emotional, behavioural and cognitive difficulties arising from developmental trauma.

Parenting traumatised children can be extraordinarily challenging and often more difficult than originally anticipated.  The caregiving challenge is often so great that it requires a therapeutic web of resources and significant emotional resilience.  Our team is committed to providing a uniquely personalised, respectful and collaborative service for adoptive families and special guardians.  Our aim is to work closely together in genuine partnership with families and professionals to support them achieve the best positive outcomes.

Children who have experienced early life adversity can heal from trauma when the web of relationships around them are deeply resourcing and rich with therapeutic intent.

Post Adoption Support for Parents and Special Guardians

It is widely recognised that working with children and young people who have experienced early life adversity, trauma and neglect requires specialist knowledge, expertise and skills. Children who have been adopted or are under the care of special guardians often have profoundly complex developmental needs. Some may have been exposed to prenatal adversity or suffered from multiple attachment disruptions and neglectful care during critical periods of brain development.  This can result in a child suffering from a wide range of emotional, behavioural and cognitive difficulties arising from developmental trauma.

Parenting traumatised children can be extraordinarily challenging and often more difficult than originally anticipated.  The caregiving challenge is often so great that it requires a therapeutic web of resources and significant emotional resilience.  Our team is committed to providing a uniquely personalised, respectful and collaborative service for adoptive families and special guardians.  Our aim is to work closely together in genuine partnership with families and professionals to support them achieve the best positive outcomes.

Children who have experienced early life adversity can heal from trauma when the web of relationships around them are deeply resourcing and rich with therapeutic intent.

Post Adoption Support for Parents and Special Guardians

It is widely recognised that working with children and young people who have experienced early life adversity, trauma and neglect requires specialist knowledge, expertise and skills. Children who have been adopted or are under the care of special guardians often have profoundly complex developmental needs. Some may have been exposed to prenatal adversity or suffered from multiple attachment disruptions and neglectful care during critical periods of brain development.  This can result in a child suffering from a wide range of emotional, behavioural and cognitive difficulties arising from developmental trauma.

Parenting traumatised children can be extraordinarily challenging and often more difficult than originally anticipated.  The caregiving challenge is often so great that it requires a therapeutic web of resources and significant emotional resilience.  Our team is committed to providing a uniquely personalised, respectful and collaborative service for adoptive families and special guardians.  Our aim is to work closely together in genuine partnership with families and professionals to support them achieve the best positive outcomes.

Children who have experienced early life adversity can heal from trauma when the web of relationships around them are deeply resourcing and rich with therapeutic intent.

Adoption Support Fund

Adoptive and SGO families need to apply for ASF funding through their local authority or a Regional Adoption Agency.  ASF funding is provided for both specialist therapeutic needs assessments and therapeutic intervention that are within the scope of ASF.

For each child, the ASF provides a maximum of £2500 for specialist assessments and up to £5000 for therapy   Access to ASF funding is available for each child up to the age of 21yrs or 25yrs if they have an ‘Education and Health Care Plan’.

For more information about ASF funding and eligibility criteria for children and young people please visit their website: www.gov.uk/guidance/adoption-support-fund-asf

parent and children playing with blocks

Adoption Support Fund

Adoptive and SGO families need to apply for ASF funding through their local authority or a Regional Adoption Agency.  ASF funding is provided for both specialist therapeutic needs assessments and therapeutic intervention that are within the scope of ASF.

For each child, the ASF provides a maximum of £2500 for specialist assessments and up to £5000 for therapy   Access to ASF funding is available for each child up to the age of 21yrs or 25yrs if they have an ‘Education and Health Care Plan’.

For more information about ASF funding and eligibility criteria for children and young people please visit their website: www.gov.uk/guidance/adoption-support-fund-asf

parent and children playing with blocks
parent and children playing with blocks

Adoption Support Fund

Adoptive and SGO families need to apply for ASF funding through their local authority or a Regional Adoption Agency.  ASF funding is provided for both specialist therapeutic needs assessments and therapeutic intervention that are within the scope of ASF.

For each child, the ASF provides a maximum of £2500 for specialist assessments and up to £5000 for therapy   Access to ASF funding is available for each child up to the age of 21yrs or 25yrs if they have an ‘Education and Health Care Plan’.

For more information about ASF funding and eligibility criteria for children and young people please visit their website: www.gov.uk/guidance/adoption-support-fund-asf

parent and children playing with blocks

Adoption Support Fund

Adoptive and SGO families need to apply for ASF funding through their local authority or a Regional Adoption Agency.  ASF funding is provided for both specialist therapeutic needs assessments and therapeutic intervention that are within the scope of ASF.

For each child, the ASF provides a maximum of £2500 for specialist assessments and up to £5000 for therapy   Access to ASF funding is available for each child up to the age of 21yrs or 25yrs if they have an ‘Education and Health Care Plan’.

For more information about ASF funding and eligibility criteria for children and young people please visit their website: www.gov.uk/guidance/adoption-support-fund-asf

purple leaf icon

Referral and first steps

To access ASF funding each family will need to approach their Local Authority ‘Special Guardian and Adoption Support Team’ and request an assessment for adoption support.  It is the Local Authority that originally placed a child which has the primary responsibility up to a period of three years for assessing a child’s needs.  Following this time frame, it is the Local Authority in which the child is currently living that become responsible for the assessment of need.   Once an adoption support assessment has been completed, the Local Authority can make a referral to our services or alternatively another service of your choice.

Upon receiving your adoption support referral, we review the information sent by the Local Authority to establish whether our service can provide what is needed.  Our next step is to:

  • Get in touch and talk you through the various steps involved in seeking support through the ASF fund and what timeline to expect for each stage in the process
  • Provide a detailed cost estimate for a Therapeutic Needs Assessment to the Local Authority who will then submits this to the ASF

Once ASF approval has been granted, we will get back in touch with you to discuss commencing a therapeutic needs assessment.  Typically, approval for funding takes around 4 weeks, following which we will allocate the work to one of our psychologists who will complete the Therapeutic Needs Assessment between 6-8 weeks.  A second cost estimate for therapy will be submitted following a feedback meeting in which therapeutic recommendations are agreed.

purple leaf icon

The Assessment Process

Children who have been adopted or are under the care of special guardians often have profoundly complex needs arising from developmental trauma. Due to the complexity of developmental trauma our assessments tend to be much more multi-layered. To help us capture this complexity children and families are generally seen over several sessions. This also offers us a dedicated space to build a more systemic understanding of the therapeutic needs of the whole family. Our aim is to develop an understanding of:

  • The nature of child’s early life experiences, including prenatal and postnatal experiences of bonding and attachment
  • What was happening in a child or young person’s life during infancy, early childhood, adolescence through to current age
  • The impacts of early life experience on home and school life at this moment in time
  • Any unfolding mental health difficulties that may be emerging
  • A child’s own unique ways of surviving adversity and how that may be helping or hindering them in dealing with everyday challenges
  • The therapeutic needs of parents and the potential impacts of current caregiving challenge
  • The strengths, skills, resiliencies and resources of the child and family

Our ASF assessment process typically involves:

  • Reviewing all the relevant social care background information on the child and requesting a search for additional paperwork where necessary
  • Meeting with parents/carers on their own
  • Meeting with the child or young person together with parent/carers
  • Meeting with the child or young person on their own where this is safe and appropriate
  • Consultation with other professionals involved in supporting a child (teacher, social worker, mental health practitioners, GP etc.,)
  • Administering a selected range of questionnaires and psychological screening measures

As a service, we integrate key principles of neurobiology into a comprehensive approach to working with children, families and the wider community in which they live. This means we value:

  • Adopting a biologically respectful approach to understanding the impacts of trauma on the developing nervous system
  • Understanding that trauma is a chronic disruption of safety and connection
  • Working to build a therapeutic web to create opportunities for healing at home and school
  • The unique therapeutic role parents (relatives, teachers and friends) play in the healing process
  • Developing therapeutic activities that are sequenced to match a child’s unique developmental needs
  • Supporting and resourcing parents through the caregiving challenges they may face

In many ways, the assessment can be seen as a first tentative step towards healing. It offers us the space to gently begin to explore what happened and what didn’t happen in a child’s early life and think about how this helps us understand what’s happening now.

purple leaf icon

What happens next?

Once our therapeutic needs assessment has been completed, the next step involves;

  • Arranging a therapeutic planning meeting with parents/carers and key professionals
  • Share our recommendations relating to the sequence of each piece of therapeutic work
  • Working together to prepare flexible therapeutic goals matched to the unique needs of each child and family

Our priority is establishing safety and stability at home and school.  Preparatory therapeutic work usually involves:

  • Establishing baseline physiological state (using appropriate measures) to support enhancing a child’s regulatory capacities
  • Stabilising overly sensitised stress regulating systems and reducing a child’s sensitivity to threat
  • Increasing a child’s capacity to access co-regulation
  • Resourcing parents to sensitively respond to caregiving challenges
  • Nurturing a child’s capacity to experience safety in connection
  • Supporting readiness for learning in school

Additional Assessments

On occasion, a dual approach to the therapeutic care of children and young people who have experienced early life adversity may be helpful, especially if they are struggling with emerging mental health difficulties or other developmental problems.  We may suggest that a more specialised assessment with a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist who is sensitive to the complex therapeutic needs of chronically traumatised children and young people.  We work closely with a small team of Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists who place a lot of emphasis on more gentle and holistic ways of working with young people and their families.

We understand how hard it is for parents and carers to take this step but often a combined approach to the therapeutic care of traumatised children can add an additional layer of support and stability while growing a child’s capacity for regulation.  We may also recommend further additional assessments that are approved under ASF fund:

purple leaf icon

Referral and first steps

To access ASF funding each family will need to approach their Local Authority ‘Special Guardian and Adoption Support Team’ and request an assessment for adoption support.  It is the Local Authority that originally placed a child which has the primary responsibility up to a period of three years for assessing a child’s needs.  Following this time frame, it is the Local Authority in which the child is currently living that become responsible for the assessment of need.   Once an adoption support assessment has been completed, the Local Authority can make a referral to our services or alternatively another service of your choice.

Upon receiving your adoption support referral, we review the information sent by the Local Authority to establish whether our service can provide what is needed.  Our next step is to:

  • Get in touch and talk you through the various steps involved in seeking support through the ASF fund and what timeline to expect for each stage in the process
  • Provide a detailed cost estimate for a Therapeutic Needs Assessment to the Local Authority who will then submits this to the ASF

Once ASF approval has been granted, we will get back in touch with you to discuss commencing a therapeutic needs assessment.  Typically, approval for funding takes around 4 weeks, following which we will allocate the work to one of our psychologists who will complete the Therapeutic Needs Assessment between 6-8 weeks.  A second cost estimate for therapy will be submitted following a feedback meeting in which therapeutic recommendations are agreed.

purple leaf icon

The Assessment Process

Children who have been adopted or are under the care of special guardians often have profoundly complex needs arising from developmental trauma. Due to the complexity of developmental trauma our assessments tend to be much more multi-layered. To help us capture this complexity children and families are generally seen over several sessions. This also offers us a dedicated space to build a more systemic understanding of the therapeutic needs of the whole family. Our aim is to develop an understanding of:

  • The nature of child’s early life experiences, including prenatal and postnatal experiences of bonding and attachment
  • What was happening in a child or young person’s life during infancy, early childhood, adolescence through to current age
  • The impacts of early life experience on home and school life at this moment in time
  • Any unfolding mental health difficulties that may be emerging
  • A child’s own unique ways of surviving adversity and how that may be helping or hindering them in dealing with everyday challenges
  • The therapeutic needs of parents and the potential impacts of current caregiving challenge
  • The strengths, skills, resiliencies and resources of the child and family

Our ASF assessment process typically involves:

  • Reviewing all the relevant social care background information on the child and requesting a search for additional paperwork where necessary
  • Meeting with parents/carers on their own
  • Meeting with the child or young person together with parent/carers
  • Meeting with the child or young person on their own where this is safe and appropriate
  • Consultation with other professionals involved in supporting a child (teacher, social worker, mental health practitioners, GP etc.,)
  • Administering a selected range of questionnaires and psychological screening measures

As a service, we integrate key principles of neurobiology into a comprehensive approach to working with children, families and the wider community in which they live. This means we value:

  • Adopting a biologically respectful approach to understanding the impacts of trauma on the developing nervous system
  • Understanding that trauma is a chronic disruption of safety and connection
  • Working to build a therapeutic web to create opportunities for healing at home and school
  • The unique therapeutic role parents (relatives, teachers and friends) play in the healing process
  • Developing therapeutic activities that are sequenced to match a child’s unique developmental needs
  • Supporting and resourcing parents through the caregiving challenges they may face

In many ways, the assessment can be seen as a first tentative step towards healing. It offers us the space to gently begin to explore what happened and what didn’t happen in a child’s early life and think about how this helps us understand what’s happening now.

purple leaf icon

What happens next?

Once our therapeutic needs assessment has been completed, the next step involves;

  • Arranging a therapeutic planning meeting with parents/carers and key professionals
  • Share our recommendations relating to the sequence of each piece of therapeutic work
  • Working together to prepare flexible therapeutic goals matched to the unique needs of each child and family

Our priority is establishing safety and stability at home and school.  Preparatory therapeutic work usually involves:

  • Establishing baseline physiological state (using appropriate measures) to support enhancing a child’s regulatory capacities
  • Stabilising overly sensitised stress regulating systems and reducing a child’s sensitivity to threat
  • Increasing a child’s capacity to access co-regulation
  • Resourcing parents to sensitively respond to caregiving challenges
  • Nurturing a child’s capacity to experience safety in connection
  • Supporting readiness for learning in school

Additional Assessments

On occasion, a dual approach to the therapeutic care of children and young people who have experienced early life adversity may be helpful, especially if they are struggling with emerging mental health difficulties or other developmental problems.  We may suggest that a more specialised assessment with a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist who is sensitive to the complex therapeutic needs of chronically traumatised children and young people.  We work closely with a small team of Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists who place a lot of emphasis on more gentle and holistic ways of working with young people and their families.

We understand how hard it is for parents and carers to take this step but often a combined approach to the therapeutic care of traumatised children can add an additional layer of support and stability while growing a child’s capacity for regulation.  We may also recommend further additional assessments that are approved under ASF fund:

purple leaf icon

Referral and first steps

To access ASF funding each family will need to approach their Local Authority ‘Special Guardian and Adoption Support Team’ and request an assessment for adoption support.  It is the Local Authority that originally placed a child which has the primary responsibility up to a period of three years for assessing a child’s needs.  Following this time frame, it is the Local Authority in which the child is currently living that become responsible for the assessment of need.   Once an adoption support assessment has been completed, the Local Authority can make a referral to our services or alternatively another service of your choice.

Upon receiving your adoption support referral, we review the information sent by the Local Authority to establish whether our service can provide what is needed.  Our next step is to:

  • Get in touch and talk you through the various steps involved in seeking support through the ASF fund and what timeline to expect for each stage in the process
  • Provide a detailed cost estimate for a Therapeutic Needs Assessment to the Local Authority who will then submits this to the ASF

Once ASF approval has been granted, we will get back in touch with you to discuss commencing a therapeutic needs assessment.  Typically, approval for funding takes around 4 weeks, following which we will allocate the work to one of our psychologists who will complete the Therapeutic Needs Assessment between 6-8 weeks.  A second cost estimate for therapy will be submitted following a feedback meeting in which therapeutic recommendations are agreed.

purple leaf icon

The Assessment Process

Children who have been adopted or are under the care of special guardians often have profoundly complex needs arising from developmental trauma. Due to the complexity of developmental trauma our assessments tend to be much more multi-layered. To help us capture this complexity children and families are generally seen over several sessions. This also offers us a dedicated space to build a more systemic understanding of the therapeutic needs of the whole family. Our aim is to develop an understanding of:

  • The nature of child’s early life experiences, including prenatal and postnatal experiences of bonding and attachment
  • What was happening in a child or young person’s life during infancy, early childhood, adolescence through to current age
  • The impacts of early life experience on home and school life at this moment in time
  • Any unfolding mental health difficulties that may be emerging
  • A child’s own unique ways of surviving adversity and how that may be helping or hindering them in dealing with everyday challenges
  • The therapeutic needs of parents and the potential impacts of current caregiving challenge
  • The strengths, skills, resiliencies and resources of the child and family

Our ASF assessment process typically involves:

  • Reviewing all the relevant social care background information on the child and requesting a search for additional paperwork where necessary
  • Meeting with parents/carers on their own
  • Meeting with the child or young person together with parent/carers
  • Meeting with the child or young person on their own where this is safe and appropriate
  • Consultation with other professionals involved in supporting a child (teacher, social worker, mental health practitioners, GP etc.,)
  • Administering a selected range of questionnaires and psychological screening measures

As a service, we integrate key principles of neurobiology into a comprehensive approach to working with children, families and the wider community in which they live. This means we value:

  • Adopting a biologically respectful approach to understanding the impacts of trauma on the developing nervous system
  • Understanding that trauma is a chronic disruption of safety and connection
  • Working to build a therapeutic web to create opportunities for healing at home and school
  • The unique therapeutic role parents (relatives, teachers and friends) play in the healing process
  • Developing therapeutic activities that are sequenced to match a child’s unique developmental needs
  • Supporting and resourcing parents through the caregiving challenges they may face

In many ways, the assessment can be seen as a first tentative step towards healing. It offers us the space to gently begin to explore what happened and what didn’t happen in a child’s early life and think about how this helps us understand what’s happening now.

purple leaf icon

What happens next?

Once our therapeutic needs assessment has been completed, the next step involves;

  • Arranging a therapeutic planning meeting with parents/carers and key professionals
  • Share our recommendations relating to the sequence of each piece of therapeutic work
  • Working together to prepare flexible therapeutic goals matched to the unique needs of each child and family

Our priority is establishing safety and stability at home and school.  Preparatory therapeutic work usually involves:

  • Establishing baseline physiological state (using appropriate measures) to support enhancing a child’s regulatory capacities
  • Stabilising overly sensitised stress regulating systems and reducing a child’s sensitivity to threat
  • Increasing a child’s capacity to access co-regulation
  • Resourcing parents to sensitively respond to caregiving challenges
  • Nurturing a child’s capacity to experience safety in connection
  • Supporting readiness for learning in school

Additional Assessments

On occasion, a dual approach to the therapeutic care of children and young people who have experienced early life adversity may be helpful, especially if they are struggling with emerging mental health difficulties or other developmental problems.  We may suggest that a more specialised assessment with a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist who is sensitive to the complex therapeutic needs of chronically traumatised children and young people.  We work closely with a small team of Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists who place a lot of emphasis on more gentle and holistic ways of working with young people and their families.

We understand how hard it is for parents and carers to take this step but often a combined approach to the therapeutic care of traumatised children can add an additional layer of support and stability while growing a child’s capacity for regulation.  We may also recommend further additional assessments that are approved under ASF fund:

Therapeutic Approach

Healing from trauma is always a delicate balance between safety and risk. One of the central tasks of trauma therapy for children and their families is to create a sense of safety in connection. As a service, our approach to the therapeutic care of children who have suffered early life adversity is deeply informed by an understanding of the neuroscience of development, attachment and trauma. This research tells us when working with chronically traumatised children it’s important that therapy happens in the right sequence and at the right time. Adopting a sequential approach to therapy for developmental trauma is key to healing and recovery. Our aim is to replicate the normal sequence of brain development that may have been interrupted because of a child’s early life experiences of trauma and neglect.

Working with the brainstem

The developing brain of the baby in utero is especially vulnerable to the impacts of maternal stress hormones and other neurotoxins such as alcohol and drugs that can easily disrupt the delicate neural architecture of the brainstem. Bonding post birth is a continuation of the sensory connection established pre-birth.  Early impaired bonding experiences (especially during the perinatal period; 0-8wks) or traumatic attachment disruptions in early life can lead to disturbances in baseline states of arousal (calm, alert, alarm, fear and terror) linked to survival reactions; fight, flight, freeze and submit.

What this means is that chronically traumatised children;

  • Do not have the capacity to regulate baseline states of arousal simply because their nervous system has adapted to help them survive
  • Cannot easily access resting states of calm or alert because their system is primed to survive – i.e. fight, take flight, freeze or submit
  • Their ‘baseline resting state’ of arousal is likely to one of alarm or fear keeping them locked into cycles of highly dysregulated brainstem-based survival states.

Dr Bruce Perry, an inspirational Neuroscientist and Psychiatrist from the Child Trauma Academy, tells us that the brain is rhythmic, and rhythm is regulating.

We know that early life trauma disrupts the rhythmic flow of the brainstem and midbrain systems.  When working with the brainstem we’re working directly with ‘The Threatful Self’ which is why the therapeutic focus of our work is targeting diminishing vigilance and restoring rhythmic regulation by;

  • Supporting regulation of baseline physiological states to reduce (hyper-reactive and hypo-reactive) levels of arousal
  • Stabilising overly sensitised stress regulation systems and reducing a child’s sensitivity to threat
  • Increasing a child’s capacity to access co-regulation through rhythmic interactions
  • Increasing a parent’s or carer’s capacity for self-regulation
  • Resourcing caregiving challenge

Our brainstem-based interventions focus on rhythmic activities and rhythmic interactions to provide patterned, repetitive neural input into the brainstem and diencephalon to through;

  • Animal assisted therapies – canine and equine
  • Nature assisted therapies
  • Drumming, musical and movement activities
  • Yoga-based movement activities accessing brainstem and medulla to regulate the breath
  • Therapeutic massage combined with Neuroaffective touch
  • Parallel play to support co-regulation
  • Sensory rich activities to support sensory integration
  • Therapeutic parenting to support co-regulation and heal impaired bonding
  • Scaffolding ‘readiness for learning’ at home and/or school through nature assisted and animal assisted therapeutic activities

Working with the emotional brain

Children who have suffered from early life adversity, trauma and neglect have often never experienced safety in connection.  Therapeutic work focussing on processing traumatic memories may take years before it is safe enough to commence.  While decisions about the timing of therapeutic interventions are made on a case by case basis, we generally like to drop below the trauma to stabilise the innate alarm system and allowing for the possibility of safety in connection to begin to take root.

When the nervous system is mediated through the ‘threatful self’ this means that the innate alarm system and the innate connection systems are working together to secure safety.  It also means that there has needed to be a departure from connection to survive.  Safety and nurture are biological imperatives; in the absence of connection, vigilance increases, and the self disappears.

To re-establish stability in both the innate alarm and innate connections systems (which are brainstem-based) working with the emotional brain needs to focus on diminishing vigilance and nurturing reconnection through:

  • Building nature-assisted nurture surrounds to promote reconnection
  • Neuroaffective touch to stabilise innate alarm and innate connection systems
  • Nurturing safety in connection through sensory rich theraplay activities
  • Working in parallel with creative arts-based activities, including rhythmic music and movement
  • Resourcing caregiving challenge
  • Healing impaired bonding and building a stable foundation for attachment

To support diminishing vigilance and nurturing safety in connection our therapeutic work with the emotional brain often includes:

  • Animal/Nature assisted therapeutic activities and interventions
  • Drumming, musical and movement activities
  • Creative arts including drama
  • Yoga based movement activities to support rhythmic regulation of breath
  • Therapeutic massage and Neuroaffective therapeutic touch
  • Attachment based play therapy
  • Attachment based EMDR
  • Sensory rich theraplay activities
  • Therapeutic parenting supporting co-regulation
  • Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy to build safety in connection
  • Scaffolding ‘readiness for learning’ at home and/or school through nature/animal assisted therapeutic activities

Working with the thinking brain

A child who is chronically traumatised is often deeply compromised in their ability to access the same learning opportunities as their same-age peers.  Educationally based therapeutic activities that are more consistent with the sequence of brain development offer greater support for these children.  Often a less structured educational experience is more effective in supporting a child’s ‘readiness for learning’.  In school teaching may need to be combined with therapeutic educational activities ‘outside’ of a structured learning space, so the nervous system gets the opportunity to experience safety in the world.

At home and school, we work with the thinking brain to create more rhythmic opportunities for learning to emerge through:

  • Restoring a more stable sense of identity
  • Supporting the emergence of new experiences of safety in the world
  • Creating optimal learning spaces to support the emergence of self-regulation
  • Supporting the process of seeding a new narrative of self

Supporting the emergence of safety in the world is key to forging a more stable sense of self and for supporting the emergence of safety in the world.  To achieve this our therapeutic work with the thinking brain includes:

  • Attachment-focussed EMDR
  • Attachment-focused Play Therapy
  • Creative arts therapies including, music, movement, yoga and drama
  • Family therapy
  • Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy
  • Therapeutic life story work

Therapeutic Approach

Healing from trauma is always a delicate balance between safety and risk. One of the central tasks of trauma therapy for children and their families is to create a sense of safety in connection. As a service, our approach to the therapeutic care of children who have suffered early life adversity is deeply informed by an understanding of the neuroscience of development, attachment and trauma. This research tells us when working with chronically traumatised children it’s important that therapy happens in the right sequence and at the right time. Adopting a sequential approach to therapy for developmental trauma is key to healing and recovery. Our aim is to replicate the normal sequence of brain development that may have been interrupted because of a child’s early life experiences of trauma and neglect.

Working with the brainstem

The developing brain of the baby in utero is especially vulnerable to the impacts of maternal stress hormones and other neurotoxins such as alcohol and drugs that can easily disrupt the delicate neural architecture of the brainstem. Bonding post birth is a continuation of the sensory connection established pre-birth.  Early impaired bonding experiences (especially during the perinatal period; 0-8wks) or traumatic attachment disruptions in early life can lead to disturbances in baseline states of arousal (calm, alert, alarm, fear and terror) linked to survival reactions; fight, flight, freeze and submit.

What this means is that chronically traumatised children;

  • Do not have the capacity to regulate baseline states of arousal simply because their nervous system has adapted to help them survive
  • Cannot easily access resting states of calm or alert because their system is primed to survive – i.e. fight, take flight, freeze or submit
  • Their ‘baseline resting state’ of arousal is likely to one of alarm or fear keeping them locked into cycles of highly dysregulated brainstem-based survival states.

Dr Bruce Perry, an inspirational Neuroscientist and Psychiatrist from the Child Trauma Academy, tells us that the brain is rhythmic, and rhythm is regulating.

We know that early life trauma disrupts the rhythmic flow of the brainstem and midbrain systems.  When working with the brainstem we’re working directly with ‘The Threatful Self’ which is why the therapeutic focus of our work is targeting diminishing vigilance and restoring rhythmic regulation by;

  • Supporting regulation of baseline physiological states to reduce (hyper-reactive and hypo-reactive) levels of arousal
  • Stabilising overly sensitised stress regulation systems and reducing a child’s sensitivity to threat
  • Increasing a child’s capacity to access co-regulation through rhythmic interactions
  • Increasing a parent’s or carer’s capacity for self-regulation
  • Resourcing caregiving challenge

Our brainstem-based interventions focus on rhythmic activities and rhythmic interactions to provide patterned, repetitive neural input into the brainstem and diencephalon to through;

  • Animal assisted therapies – canine and equine
  • Nature assisted therapies
  • Drumming, musical and movement activities
  • Yoga-based movement activities accessing brainstem and medulla to regulate the breath
  • Therapeutic massage combined with Neuroaffective touch
  • Parallel play to support co-regulation
  • Sensory rich activities to support sensory integration
  • Therapeutic parenting to support co-regulation and heal impaired bonding
  • Scaffolding ‘readiness for learning’ at home and/or school through nature assisted and animal assisted therapeutic activities

Working with the emotional brain

Children who have suffered from early life adversity, trauma and neglect have often never experienced safety in connection.  Therapeutic work focussing on processing traumatic memories may take years before it is safe enough to commence.  While decisions about the timing of therapeutic interventions are made on a case by case basis, we generally like to drop below the trauma to stabilise the innate alarm system and allowing for the possibility of safety in connection to begin to take root.

When the nervous system is mediated through the ‘threatful self’ this means that the innate alarm system and the innate connection systems are working together to secure safety.  It also means that there has needed to be a departure from connection to survive.  Safety and nurture are biological imperatives; in the absence of connection, vigilance increases, and the self disappears.

To re-establish stability in both the innate alarm and innate connections systems (which are brainstem-based) working with the emotional brain needs to focus on diminishing vigilance and nurturing reconnection through:

  • Building nature-assisted nurture surrounds to promote reconnection
  • Neuroaffective touch to stabilise innate alarm and innate connection systems
  • Nurturing safety in connection through sensory rich theraplay activities
  • Working in parallel with creative arts-based activities, including rhythmic music and movement
  • Resourcing caregiving challenge
  • Healing impaired bonding and building a stable foundation for attachment

To support diminishing vigilance and nurturing safety in connection our therapeutic work with the emotional brain often includes:

  • Animal/Nature assisted therapeutic activities and interventions
  • Drumming, musical and movement activities
  • Creative arts including drama
  • Yoga based movement activities to support rhythmic regulation of breath
  • Therapeutic massage and Neuroaffective therapeutic touch
  • Attachment based play therapy
  • Attachment based EMDR
  • Sensory rich theraplay activities
  • Therapeutic parenting supporting co-regulation
  • Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy to build safety in connection
  • Scaffolding ‘readiness for learning’ at home and/or school through nature/animal assisted therapeutic activities

Working with the thinking brain

A child who is chronically traumatised is often deeply compromised in their ability to access the same learning opportunities as their same-age peers.  Educationally based therapeutic activities that are more consistent with the sequence of brain development offer greater support for these children.  Often a less structured educational experience is more effective in supporting a child’s ‘readiness for learning’.  In school teaching may need to be combined with therapeutic educational activities ‘outside’ of a structured learning space, so the nervous system gets the opportunity to experience safety in the world.

At home and school, we work with the thinking brain to create more rhythmic opportunities for learning to emerge through:

  • Restoring a more stable sense of identity
  • Supporting the emergence of new experiences of safety in the world
  • Creating optimal learning spaces to support the emergence of self-regulation
  • Supporting the process of seeding a new narrative of self

Supporting the emergence of safety in the world is key to forging a more stable sense of self and for supporting the emergence of safety in the world.  To achieve this our therapeutic work with the thinking brain includes:

  • Attachment-focussed EMDR
  • Attachment-focused Play Therapy
  • Creative arts therapies including, music, movement, yoga and drama
  • Family therapy
  • Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy
  • Therapeutic life story work
adoption-illustration

Therapeutic interventions approved by the ASF

Restoring a child’s capacity to experience safety in connection is key to healing and recovery.  While there is no single therapeutic approach that holds that key alone, we believe that working from the bottom-up (starting with the brainstem) and sequencing therapeutic interventions that target disrupted connections and poorly organised brains systems offers us a neurobiological and relational gateway to healing.

  • Attachment-informed EMDR
  • Creative Therapies (music, art and drama)
  • Dyadic Art Psychotherapy
  • Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP)
  • Systemic Family Therapy
  • Sensory Integration Intervention
  • Theraplay
  • Therapeutic Life Story Work
  • Therapeutic Parenting
adoption-illustration

Therapeutic interventions approved by the ASF

Restoring a child’s capacity to experience safety in connection is key to healing and recovery.  While there is no single therapeutic approach that holds that key alone, we believe that working from the bottom-up (starting with the brainstem) and sequencing therapeutic interventions that target disrupted connections and poorly organised brains systems offers us a neurobiological and relational gateway to healing.

  • Attachment-informed EMDR
  • Creative Therapies (music, art and drama)
  • Dyadic Art Psychotherapy
  • Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP)
  • Systemic Family Therapy
  • Sensory Integration Intervention
  • Theraplay
  • Therapeutic Life Story Work
  • Therapeutic Parenting
adoption-illustration

Therapeutic interventions approved by the ASF

Restoring a child’s capacity to experience safety in connection is key to healing and recovery.  While there is no single therapeutic approach that holds that key alone, we believe that working from the bottom-up (starting with the brainstem) and sequencing therapeutic interventions that target disrupted connections and poorly organised brains systems offers us a neurobiological and relational gateway to healing.

  • Attachment-informed EMDR
  • Creative Therapies (music, art and drama)
  • Dyadic Art Psychotherapy
  • Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP)
  • Systemic Family Therapy
  • Sensory Integration Intervention
  • Theraplay
  • Therapeutic Life Story Work
  • Therapeutic Parenting
adoption-illustration

Therapeutic interventions
approved by the ASF

Restoring a child’s capacity to experience safety in connection is key to healing and recovery.  While there is no single therapeutic approach that holds that key alone, we believe that working from the bottom-up (starting with the brainstem) and sequencing therapeutic interventions that target disrupted connections and poorly organised brains systems offers us a neurobiological and relational gateway to healing.

  • Attachment-informed EMDR
  • Creative Therapies (music, art and drama)
  • Dyadic Art Psychotherapy
  • Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP)
  • Systemic Family Therapy
  • Sensory Integration Intervention
  • Theraplay
  • Therapeutic Life Story Work
  • Therapeutic Parenting

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Request a consultation