The therapeutic foundation from which we build our practice, is the model of DDP (Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy). The PLACE model stems from DDP and works with Play, Love, Acceptance, Curiosity, and Empathy within safe, trusting, and compassionate relationships that enable our young people to make sense of past traumas and attachment difficulties. Our young people have experienced significant trauma, attachment difficulties, and/or abuse or neglect, and need robust, safe, and thoughtfully sensitive relationships. We believe in practicing our model through every level of our company.
DDP values empathy with the intentional building of safe, positive, and authentic relationships with children, families, and between staff. The philosophy and work is about alliance, not compliance, and acceptance, not judgment. Distressed children and young people need to experience adults as safe and fun to be with, which they are unlikely to have experienced before, largely having had negative experiences of unsafe, untrustworthy, and hostile adults or carers. Keeping the child close builds trust, allows appropriate independence, and aids the teaching of new skills. This offers the child a secure base from which to develop. The clear message given by the adults within our model is; “I can take care of you, I will take care of you, and I want to take care of you.”
All children and young people need love, but for the many young people who have experienced trauma and early attachment difficulties, they require parenting in a unique way that provides the experience of safety, and opportunities for secure attachments, which they have sorely missed. Our children and young people need adults to be attuned and to experience themselves through safe adults’ eyes, and for the adults to be robust and prepared to be able to process and accept the challenging nature of our young people’s past experiences, current behaviours, and emotions. Intersubjectivity (one’s experience influencing the other’s experience) is crucial with reciprocal relationships that allow our young people to see that they impact us, and that we impact them, and to trust in this process safely. Acceptance is a key component of this, for our adults to accept some of the more troubling thoughts and emotions that young people can experience, and to accept the whole child for everything they think and feel, whilst maintaining safety around behaviour with appropriate consequences. This all forms a wider framework to enable our young people to let us understand their inner worlds and help them to make sense of this with them.
Providing in-service training in Dyadic Developmental Practice aids understanding of why the children behave as they do, and creates a robust framework for managers and staff to work together with a common purpose. This reduces their experience of oppositional behaviours as a personal attack, and reduces conflict about ways of working with and caring for the child.
The ethos and core attitude of support with and amongst staff is Acceptance, Curiosity, and Empathy, with an emphasis on reflective practice and accountability. Supportive spaces are provided for staff to embrace the model as a team and understand the functioning of their team, to provide the best possible support within our model for our young people. Individual clinical and therapeutic support is also offered for staff, where needed. Structure and predictability are essential, and daily routines for young people are adhered to and change is prepared for. Rituals for celebrating success, Birthdays, and anniversaries are in place and take account of the children’s capacity to manage excitement and achievement. Opportunities to share positive experiences and have fun are in place. The children and young people can experience seeking and accepting adult soothing and comfort, rather than aggression as the best ways of dealing with anxiety and stress. When children have ‘fallen out’ or behave dangerously with staff or with each other, safety and relationship repair are at the forefront of consequences.
Our therapeutic model and ethos in the homes is supported by our Specialist Services Team who provide direct work, therapeutic consultation to our staff teams, supporting the therapeutic needs of the children in our services.