Tag Archives: support

CITIZEN SMITH #ParentPower

 

 

 

 

Life Story Work – There must be a better way?

Hey Sarah, let’s sit down and look at that book about that time you got molested in the park, I’ve got some photos of your assailant. Let’s have a look at them, I know he loved you really. Look here’s you and the police officer that did your forensic examination. How are you feeling?

There are many important things we have to handle as adoptive or foster parents, but to me helping a child make sense of ‘their journey’ has always felt like the most overwhelming.

In this aspect of our role we must act as both counsellor and parent – because what is termed ‘life story work’ is unquestionably counselling and it is unquestionably work. Work we are uniquely ill-equipped to undertake. Work that, in my mind, is important beyond our imagination.

Life story work makes me feel grossly inadequate and it can turn me into an arsehole because when I hear on the news, following one hideous event or another, that “counselling has been made available” to the victims I actually feel jealous on behalf of my child. Jealous! Jealous that I’m left to bumble my way through helping my child make sense of their own traumatic experiences. Jealous of people who have experienced horror I cannot imagine and who are perfectly entitled to receive support. How screwed up is that!

And I am not sure I believe that the PTSD experienced by those who witnessed, for example, the London Bridge attack is so different from those feelings experienced by an abused child, or one whose very life was repeatedly threatened through neglect. Or indeed the additional traumas of severance following removal.

If I were a counsellor being fairly paid to support a person who had experienced what our children have experienced (Complex PTSD) I would be putting a deposit down on a holiday home after the first meeting. It’s for the same reason that I fully understand why parents delay or avoid it, or those who often, like me, wait for their child to prompt us with an enquiry so that I can steel myself and say “Oh I’m glad you asked me that” before dragging out ‘the book’.

These events need professionals, and when I think of us, the army of amateurs coming to counsel our children through their PTSD I wonder how the media would treat our arrival at the scene of a terrorist incident. Equipped, as in my case, with good intentions, tissues and a spiral bound wipe-clean book of their tragedy.

But we know that there is no army of free counsellors to help our children, it can take 18 months to get just one CAMHS referral, and even all those counsellors who, in my imagination, descend on the scene of a tragedy like robot hoovers have to go back to their charging points until the next time they are needed.

So as always we must step up, and equip ourselves to become the professional, the counsellor, equipped to help our children process the events that brought them to us, and to do so over the course of many years. We’ll buy more books, attend more courses, learn from each other and our mistakes but always with that voice in our heads “There must be a better way than this”.

@mistersglluest

The Potato Group News

 

 

BAMBOO SCAFFOLDING 

In order to access many everyday activities, my son needs ‘bamboo scaffolding’, flexible and adaptable low key support – when I get this right it is largely invisible to others . . . .unless they have ever witnessed my son without this support.

Several years ago, I had to declare my teenage adopted son homeless due to repeated violence, threats and damage to our home and car over a long period. In the years that have passed since then, I remain his daily support for food, transport, emotional regulation and sorting benefits etc. as services do not appear to recognize he has any support needs at all. Now in his twenties, he lurches chaotically from near crisis to near crisis. Over several months he has been in a particularly low mental state. Over several months I have also been feeling depleted and was struggling to function on a day to day basis (after many years of providing high level support). How to try to nudge this situation in a better direction? Idea – a high risk holiday! Our son was excluded from education for more than half of his school life but each year I clutched at straws to find one activity in which he could participate and gain self esteem.

Currently he is doing Muay Thai (Thai boxing) regularly and together we planned a short trip to Thailand during which time he could do some training. My partner was unable to travel as he is awaiting an operation, so the first high risk was travelling alone with my son. A home-based education service working with him in his early teens insisted on 2:1 workers due to risk – but adoptive parents frequently carry risk 1:1 or 1:3 or more with siblings.

Bamboo Scaffolding: part one – getting there

I researched flights, resort, hotel etc. online, planning flight to be as short as possible, hotel as familiar as possible, and as close as possible to a Muay Thai gym. My partner paid for the holiday and from that point we accepted that we had ‘written off’ this money . . .even if we did not make it to the airport to set off. Previous holidays have had to be cut short e.g. a week booked in a caravan was abandoned after slightly more than 24 hours after credible threats to trash the caravan. Scaffolding means planning and anticipating situations my son will struggle with and adapting them to give him a better chance of managing. Schools in our experience never understood scaffolding, nor embraced inclusion.

Treating all pupils equally meets neither the needs of the child nor the sprit nor the letter of current equalities legislation – giving differentiated support and making ‘reasonable adjustments’ does. My deeply traumatised son still confuses the feelings of excitement and fear and is highly anxious in situations which he finds stressful – regularly dissociating into fear expressed as extreme anger.

Packing My son lives independently. I got his passport from him before we booked, as all forms of ID are often lost in his chaos. His washing machine is broken but he has not allowed us into his home over many months to arrange repair or replacement. I bought a few new clothes and partly packed a suitcase for him. I picked him up from his house to finish packing at ours, he promptly tipped everything out of the small case, announced he was only taking hand luggage as clothes were cheaper there, and took little more than one pair of pants and a toothbrush – I did manage to sneak one set of clothes into my case for emergencies. He was already ranting that there was no way he was going to wait at the airport for hours and we really didn’t need to check in until 30 minutes before the long haul flight.

I was deliberately vague about the flight time and hoped for the best. We had to set off the moment he was ready; my partner drove us; we drove slowly to try to reduce an excessive airport wait. The short stay departures car park was a nightmare finding a space and then walking a long way to the connecting bridge to departures. We joined the check-in queue and as we passed through passport control I breathed a sigh of relief – there was a chance we would actually set off. The next challenges were the slow and crowded zigzag queues for hand luggage and body scan and I could see him starting to fidget, clench his fists etc – at this point I have to stop myself ‘wittering’ empty reassuring phrases. I have learnt it is best to remain silent or nod empathetically that …it is a piss-take and FFS – absorb the emotion and ‘let them rant’.

We entered the departure lounge with still at least an hour before going to our gate. At last we were called to the gate and onto the plane, the very back seats, cosy for me, 5’ nothing, but decidedly cramped for my 6’ son, and as the hours went by increasingly hot and uncomfortable. Due to my son’s anxiety levels and neediness he can appear very self-centered. He took every bit of discomfort as if deliberately targeted at him and showed no empathy that we were all in the same boat (or the same crowded plane in this case). From time to time I offered distractions or sweets – scaffolding to aid his emotional regulation and I remained hypervigilant to absorb restlessness and ranting hoping we would not be responsible for a mid-air incident.

Seven hours, a two-hour transit, and a further seven hours was a huge challenge for a young man who finds the third hour of a three hour train journey difficult. Arriving bleary eyed I tried to spot the signs towards pre-booked transfers. Any hesitation led to rants from my son that I was dithering, and the likelihood of him storming off in the wrong direction. Luckily we found the tour operator quickly and once on the minibus taxi he fell deeply asleep, we were dropped at our hotel, checked in and given two rooms a few doors away from each other on the 5th floor. We had arrived in Patong, ‘party central’, not the typical destination for an exhausted 60 something!

To be continued: Look out for part 2 – What we did when we got there and the advantages and disadvantages of social media And Part 3 – How we avoided a Thai jail and . . .did we get home safely?

www.thepotatogroup.org.uk

Summer plans at The Adoption Social

It’s almost Summer Holiday time and indeed for some, the holidays have already started, so we thought we’d best let you know what’s going on here…

We’ve decided to take a break for the entire Summer holiday, giving you just the Weekly Adoption Shout Out each week from Friday to Sunday as usual.

We both feel that we need to re-assess what The Adoption Social means to us, to you, whether we need to branch out, or stop or diversify or…we don’t know, but in order to this about all that, we need to step back completely for a while. July and August are traditionally quieter months for The Adoption Social anyway, so we hope you won’t mind us stepping away for a bit.

However, we will still be around if you need an ear or a shoulder, you’ll find us at @puffindiaries and @boysbehaviour. We started The Adoption Social because of our amazing online community, and we both definitely want to remain a part of that community too – because we still need support and help with our families, and because you know, you lot are pretty nice people!

If you have any thoughts about what The Adoption Social means to you or where you see it in the future, then please by all means email us at theadoptionsocial@gmail.com, and we’ll take your thoughts, ideas and messages into consideration when we think about where we’re going to go and what we’re going to do.057

For now, here’s the dates that we’ll be running #WASO, and their themes:

22-24 July                 ‘6 Weeks’
29-31 July                 NO THEME
5-7 August               ‘Fight, flight or freeze’
12-14 August           NO THEME
19-21 August           ‘Sun or storm’
26-28 August           NO THEME
2-4 September        ‘How do you feel today?’
9-11 September      NO THEME

We’ll be returning week commencing 12th September and we’ll let you know our plans then or shortly thereafter.

Brighter Thinking – a new animation

Recently on Twitter, The Open Nest invited adoptive parents to share ways they felt unsupported by friends and family, and also share the ways that their support networks got it right too.
To view all of the suggestions, you can search on Twitter using #Allchildrendothat.

The aim of this research was to inform a new animation, to be produced by the charity, following the success of it’s previous animation The Lost Children of Trauma. And last week, our very own Sarah (also of The Puffin Diaries and Trustee of The Open Nest) and Amanda Boorman of The Open Nest, launched the new animation – Brighter Thinking.

And here it is:

Now we need your help again in getting it seen. So please share it far and wide – with your local authority, with your friends and families, with anyone you think would benefit from seeing it. It not only shows how adopters feel they could have been supported better, but it acknowledges the good bits too and highlights how prospective adopters might be better supported in the future.

And finally, we’d like to say a big thank you to all of those who contributed to this film in anyway. Your input and experiences are vital in getting better support for adopters and adoptees.

Support opportunity for adoptive couples

Today we’re bringing you a guest post and opportunity from The Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships…

Have you and your partner been arguing more since adopting?

Have the summer holidays exposed some cracks in your relationship?

Ever feel like you are ‘on your own’ and no one understands the pressures of being an adoptive parent?

Don’t let these concerns grow; there is no better time to seek support.

At The Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships (TCCR) we are offering NEW, FREE, government funded support in a new service called Adopting Together – Relationship Support for Adoptive Parents.

This specialist service offers a safe space to reflect on how adoption has impacted on your couple relationship. It allows for better communication between couples where they can freely share the difficulties they are experiencing in order to improve the quality of their relationship.

Programme Head Julie Humphries says “Our innovative approach is unique as, unlike other Adopting Togetherparenting programmes it avoids the usual focus on mothers and parenting, instead looking at you as a couple. By helping your relationship, the aim is to improve life for you AND your children. Participation will help you strengthen your bond and allow you to concentrate on building or growing your family in a happy and harmonious way.”

The support is run in London and starts in September. Here is a brief Q&A for couples who are interested in attending

Who can receive the support?

The Adopting Together Service is open to all post-adoption parents and we welcome both heterosexual and same-sex couples.

What type of support is offered?

We offer two types of face to face therapy.  Couples will be seen in either couples therapy or parent groups and work with our experienced therapists to get support to address some of the issues that are impacting on their relationship.

What are the Adopting Together Parents Groups?

One option A FREE group-based programme designed to support adoptive couples with their relationship and their parenting with the benefit of allowing you to share your experiences.

What’s involved if we join the Parents Groups?

You and your co-parent will meet with our expert group workers and they will be able to answer any further questions you might have and decide if the group is the right sort of help for you and your family.

You will then join a series of 16 weekly, 2 hour sessions with a small number of other adoptive couples who might be going through similar situations. The sessions give you the opportunity to improve your relationship, yourself and your parenting skills. There is a mixture of creative activities, video clips and discussions with the group leaders.

The group is a safe space to explore things that might be difficult and sad, as well as a space for lively discussion, fun and meeting other people who might be going through similar situations.

What is the Adopting Together Couple Therapy Service?

A FREE therapy service designed to support adoptive couples with their relationship and their parenting.

What is involved if we join the Couple Therapy Service?

You and your co-parent will meet with a specially trained therapist for up to 20 weekly 50-minute sessions. In these sessions you will get the chance to explore your relationship and any issues that may be concerning you.

What difference will it make?

TCCR has nearly 70 years’ worth of experience and is world leading in the field of couple therapy. Seeing a therapist has made a big difference to thousands of relationships, here are just some of the things our clients have said about what couple therapy did for them:

“I was so worried about seeking help and I wonder why it took me so long”

“It was a very professional service. I have got all I wanted form it.”

“It has brought me and my partner closer together”

Interested?

We ae allocating free spaces now…

You can find out more or register for a consultation appointment by emailing adoptingtogether@tccr.org.uk or call: 0207 380 1950, then you may be offered one of two options, either Adopting Together Parents Groups or Adopting Together Couples Therapy.

New single adopters network launched

We’re pleased today, to bring you news of a new network that has recently launched, especially for single adoptive parents…logo FINAL

Hello!  I’m Sarah a single adopter to a gorgeous 8 year old.  When I started my adoption journey 3 ½ years ago I didn’t really think about how much support I would need.  I made the decision to adopt and assumed I would get the support I needed when I needed it.  As we all know though, the reality is often very different.

Throughout the approval process all the training I received was aimed at couples, which is understandable.  I don’t have anyone to takeover when he’s having a meltdown and I feel like I want to join in.  Since my son moved in 16 months ago it has been a rollercoaster ride, with some amazing highs, and a lot of difficult lows.  Throughout that time I’ve been lucky that my social worker has been good, but my son is from a different LA and they are not quite so good.  To start with there were no support groups near me and I couldn’t have gone to an evening meeting anyway.

All of this got me thinking about the type of support I wanted and needed.  I spoke to a number of other single adopters to see how they felt and a clear message came out – they wanted a support group specifically for single adopters to focus on their issues.  In some cases they didn’t know any other single adopters, had very little support from their LA’s and felt isolated.  That’s not right and needs to change.  Whilst there are many similarities between the experiences of couples and singles adopting there are of course differences, and recognising and supporting those differences doesn’t always happen.

From these discussions the idea for the Single Adopters Network was born.  I decided to create a support network just for single adopters and I wanted it to be one everyone could access.  My intention is for the group to be a supportive, friendly and non-judgemental community purely for single adopters, or those thinking about adopting by themselves.  It is an online network, so it doesn’t matter where in the country you are, you can join and get the support you need when you need it.  There is a secure forum where you can ask for advice and support each other, as well as a resources area with useful information that is only accessible to members.  There will also be a monthly call, via a teleconference system for anonymity, which will give you the opportunity to talk to other single adopters from across the country from the comfort of your sofa, so no worries about babysitters!  All of this is designed to support us in building a strong, supportive community where we can help each other through the difficult times, but also celebrate the good times together.

I’m so pleased that the network launched on Saturday and if you’d like more details about the group and how to join the website is www.singleadoptersnetwork.com

I can be contacted via email sarah@sarahpfisher.com or mobile 07817 544707 if you’d like further information or to have a chat.  I’m also on twitter @fishercoaching

I’m passionate about building a supportive, friendly and non-judgemental community to help single adopters like me so, if that’s what you would like, come and join us.

Finally, I want to thank www.theadoptionsocial.com for their support I really appreciate it.

Sarah

www.singleadoptersnetwork.com
@fishercoaching
sarah@sarahpfisher.com

My thoughts and Experiences of Contact by Amanda Boorman

To start our second Sore Points in adoption week on CONTACT, Amanda Boorman from The Open Nest, tells us about her thoughts and experiences.

As a peer support charity we get calls from adopters asking advice and direction to services for many things. After running for two years I would say the most common issues we are asked about are access to short breaks, aggressive behaviour, problems at school and problems with professionals who ‘don’t get it’

Surprisingly issues with contact and life story very rarely come up.

At the opposite end of this, adults who were adopted report life history, identity and incorrect file information as being one of the key unresolved and painful issues for them.

It is a subject that when discussed can bring up a lot of emotion, anxiety, anger and confusion. I believe the issues of life story and contact in adoption are due a big public debate despite hardly featuring at all in the current adoption reform.

The pervading opinion remains that if a child has been removed from its parents, then by definition those parents do not have rights to seeing or hearing from that child again. To seek contact and the continuing of previous relationships is potentially disruptive and damaging for the child. It is recognised that having to maintain contact could be off putting for prospective adopters.

contact AB

But it is rarely as clear cut as that.

By the time a child or children is removed, social workers have put together the case for removal and presented it to court. It goes without saying that the records involved in this process will focus on the parents failings in relation to their child/children. It is unlikely that future carers will have much more of ‘the family story’ than these failings and scraps of file  information gathered during that process.

Perhaps the debate about contact begins with questioning the quality of, and commitment to, the recording of birth family history before the connections are severed.

This information is not just about parents, it’s about culture and place and extended family history. The programme ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ does not just focus on parents it goes generations back and recipients gain positively from information about family members they have never met even if some of this is sad.

In my adopted daughters case she arrived with a life story that if it were summed up would say:

A cruel and uncaring mother who despite numerous offers of help refused to change, she was selfish, obstructive and very aggressive. She may have been prostituting herself as her daughter has different skin colour to her siblings.

The children were unkempt and living in chaos. They had head lice, skin rashes and ear infections. The children have been removed into temporary foster care on many occasions in order to try and help the parents.

A stubborn disruptive father who will not engage with services and shouts out in meetings, often in front of the children.

There have been many reports to social services from neighbours which describe the mother shouting at the children and slapping them and then causing trouble with the neighbours if they tried to intervene

Based upon this I accepted the professional view that no contact was in the best interests of my daughter and her brothers.

A couple of years after placement I chose to seek out her parents myself. My dad was a history teacher and history, particularly biography, is something we all enjoy as a family. I found the scrap book of disjointed photos that arrived from the foster carers and the file reports lacking in any real and meaningful life history. I felt without detailed history, both good and bad, I couldn’t support my daughter properly.

After meeting her parents the story I had to share with my daughter was:

A mother with an undiagnosed learning disability. Her father was tragically killed at sea when he was in his twenties leaving her (6 months old) her mother and three young siblings. She was prey to a local paedophile at a young age and then abused in local authority care where she was placed due to her subsequent challenging behaviour. Previous relationship with a violent man and a pregnancy with this man that ended up in late stage miscarriage.

Having had an African American great grandfather she and her family have a dark skin colour which has been passed down to her daughter.

One sister is a detective constable who tried to help the family but as a single mum found it impossible. Another is a nurse and the third emigrated to Australia where she cares for the elderly.

The mum is unable to parent without intensive support but when given empathy is fully aware of her failings and honest about these failings. She is very loving but when under pressure becomes anxious and aggressive. She made many calls to social services pretending to be a neighbour and reporting herself. She believed the children should have been removed sooner in the absence of intensive parenting support. She feels social services didn’t ‘get it’. She is unable to read or write without support. She needs help to make it to appointments.

A stubborn but loyal father who is considerably older than the mother. He has previously bought up five children with no local authority involvement. He was extremely fearful of losing the children, he has a deep mistrust of social care systems and is over protective of the mother. When treated with respect he is gentle and generous

There is no doubt that my adopted daughters birth parents failings damaged her. So did the service she received from the state as a vulnerable child. I have no doubt her parents were not easy to deal with. There did however seem to be missed opportunities to gather correct information that could help my daughter understand her family history and identity better as she grew up.

Maintaining contact with an extended family beyond your own can be extremely challenging, especially with scant information and no support. It can also be costly and involve lots of travel.

Making a decision to begin contact or maintain it when the information is damning of parents or news letters are constantly unanswered is almost impossible, especially without a meaningful and safe connection having been established between the two families in advance of the adoption placement.

Where contact has been properly evidenced as being damaging or potentially damaging to children this also needs careful and therapeutic input towards healthy endings that put the child’s needs first. Children should be given therapeutic support to make individual decisions about contact.

This approach would require specialist and committed long term support work. In times of austerity, budget cuts and an adoption agenda focused on recruitment, as well as adoption continuing to be placed culturally as a saving mission, the resources are simply not there. Evidence gathered from adult adoptees about their experience of contact or lack of it is also missing as a means to inform good practice.

In a very small nutshell our family experience of contact has been that we are glad we made it happen.

We wish we had been given more support. It’s been emotional and messy. It’s produced amazing and happy memories and has also triggered some very tricky stuff that has needed to be dealt with therapeutically.

As an adult my daughter tells me that when she struggled after contact it was the saying goodbye again not the contact itself she found difficult. She is glad she got to know her lovely gentle father but the pain of losing him recently is hard. She wonders if it would have been easier not to have known him than deal with the grief. She has forgiven her mother but not forgotten what her failings caused to her and her brothers. She remains angry with her about this (and tells her so) but also loves her unconditionally. She loves her policewoman Aunty who is a role model and is proud of her brave grandad who risked and lost his life for others.

She no longer feels she is from a ‘bad’ family and identifies positively with her home town. Contact got to the truth warts and all.

Sometimes as an adopted person she hates her mum….both of us.

The Open Nest Charity provides a neutral, safe and calm environment for both sibling and birth family contact www.theopennest.co.uk

Anna Writes: What’s helped

Phonto

Our resident columnist Anna is back again after a break for our Adoption Sore Point week, this time talking about what’s helped her…

A couple of posts in and I feel as though I’d like to offer some balance, I can’t change my experiences, they are as they are, but I have been reflecting on some of the things that I have found helpful along the way.

I was adopted at the end of the 1970’s at a time when the adoption of a child was more often through relinquishment than removal and the general consensus seemed to be that ‘what babies don’t know, won’t hurt them’ – the theory being that if you adopted a child young enough, they wouldn’t ever know any different (I’m not entirely sure what the thinking was around older children…)

Now, although adoption support is still not universal, it is at least being recognised as necessary and the advent of the adoption support fund (ASF) will hopefully provide some much needed intervention and support for all of those impacted by adoption. Adopted people are over- represented within the mental health system in the UK, it seems as good a time as any to begin to address this and get the right support in place for families, sooner.

For me, one of the most helpful things growing up, was knowing other people who were adopted- living in the middle of nowhere this was a bit of a challenge, but there was another boy in my school who was adopted. We never talked about it (and nor did my adopted brother and I, save for one conversation where he told me he never wanted to discuss it again) but it was enough to know there were other people. I wasn’t the outsider that I felt like.

As a bit of a music/ comedy/ literature fiend growing up- I discovered some of my favourite artists were adopted, Wendy James from Transvision Vamp, Jackie Kay, Jeanette Winterson and the comedian Stewart Lee and each time I discovered another I felt less alone. I had fantasy conversations with them and they just got me, and I them, because in my head they would know what it felt like, adoption was a shortcut to understanding.

I also had therapy, lots and lots of therapy, from 14 onwards- unfortunately my parents, not being au fait with attachment theory bundled me off to a boarding school at 16 as they found it hard to cope with my me-ness, so for two years I felt rejected, abandoned and displaced all over again, without really understanding why, but at least I had my music, my books and my friends, a surrogate family of people who put up with me in spite of (or maybe because of) how I was.

At 18, I moved away and had my first experience of person centred counselling, it was via the University counselling service and lasted a whole year- accessing a whole year of therapy was wonderful ..and at last I didn’t have someone telling me that what I was feeling was wrong, or ungrateful, or weird, my counsellor accepted me, completely, and wow!…that was powerful. The idea that someone could accept all the different parts of me, the light and the shade was almost overwhelming, and the fact that I could internalise some of it helped immeasurably over the following few years..

And I wanted more, so at various times since, I have engaged in the same kind of counselling, I am still seeing the same counsellor I started seeing 8 years ago when I found my birth mother and she is amazing, she doesn’t judge, she doesn’t offer me her version of events or interpret, she just listens, and accepts and she even went out and bought a copy of ‘The Primal Wound’ by Nancy Newton-Verrier in order to understand me better: now that’s commitment..

With hindsight, I think what would have helped me at home growing up would have been lots of expressed love backed up with a healthy dollop of evidence, the time and space to talk about being adopted, empathic understanding (including asking how I was feeling) firm boundaries and an ability to hold my needs in mind- I’m sure my adoptive parents did their best, and certainly thought they were doing it- but unfortunately the things that I needed most (love and acceptance) were traded in for money and projected wants.

Please don’t get me wrong, I know that my adoptive parents really tried and I certainly didn’t give them the easiest ride, but the generation chasm between us and my adoptive mothers unresolved attachment issues coupled with some fairly regular corporal punishment (it was the 80’s…)  did not make for a secure base.

Not everyone wants to be a therapist, but many people already have the skills, values and attributes to offer children unconditional love, empathy and genuineness, but people shouldn’t have to provide that in a vacuum- the ASF offers many types of therapeutic support, several of which are specifically aimed at the whole family, which I hope, can only be a good thing.

So below, I have reproduced the list of recommended therapies potentially accessible via the ASF, to highlight what’s available now- and it’s great that it is (although a comprehensive glossary of all the different therapies would be helpful too) I hope that the choice on offer reflects the needs of those accessing it and that alternatives to the list aren’t discounted out of hand either.

The Adoption Support Fund will pay for therapeutic support and services including but not restricted to:

Therapeutic parenting training
Further more complex assessment (e.g CAMHS assessment, multidisciplinary assessment including education and heath, cognitive and neuropsychological assessment, other mental health needs assessment.)
Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy
Theraplay
Filial therapy
Creative therapies e.g. art, music, drama, play
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)
Non-Violent Resistance (NVR)
Sensory integration therapy
Multisystemic therapy
Psychotherapy
Specialist clinical assessments where required (e.g. Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder)
Extensive therapeutic life story work
Respite care (where it is part of a therapeutic intervention)

Source: First4Adoption, 2015

Anna. W

He’s not *that* strong is he?

Another guest post today from an anonymous mum – sharing her experience of Child to Parent Violence.

We don’t experience the same levels of violence that other families do. And we’re very lucky that now, at 8, it appears to be slowing down and petering out a little…although I know it could return. Peaks and troughs – that’s how we roll.

But when it was at it’s worst, we experienced scary violent moments – the worst, for me, were the black eye (after I held him and got headbutted), the concussion and the threatening with cutlery thing. They stand out, but there are many moments where I have been hit, punched, landed on, kicked, scratched, or had threats of all those things.

After being headbutted, I approached our post adoption social worker and asked for safe holding training.

“We don’t approve of restraining methods” I was told.

Oh. Well I’ll continue to get hurt then shall I?

“Here, have some theraplay/counselling/life story work instead” was the response. It didn’t matter how I worded it, what I said, how I tried to tell them that I’d gotten hurt.

Friends would say:
He’s 5 – how can he hurt you?
He’s 6 – come on, he’s not *that* strong is he?
He’s 7 – can’t you hold him, so he can’t hit you?
He’s 8 – he just needs to work that anger out, have you thought about Karate?

Along with the lack of support from our post adoption support term, those comments made me feel absolutely useless. I questioned myself, wondering whether it was my fault for getting in those situations, maybe I was causing the anger somehow.
Deep down, I knew that this was my son’s way of communicating something really hurtful to me, although we struggled to decipher what that was, but the lack of understanding and support made it difficult to hold that thought in mind, especially when repeated day after day, year after year and when suffering the physical and emotional pain of violence from your child.

These days there is less anger, and we take a step back. Rather than trying to help him calm and regulate with soothing words and reassuring touches, we make sure he’s in a safe space and stay reasonably close by to make sure he doesn’t get hurt.
But I know that we will have to investigate NVR in the future to protect him, and to protect ourselves and I’m not prepared to wait until it’s too late.

And I now know that we are not the only family who experiences this, and I’m not ashamed anymore. We need to speak about this to make sure that those children, and those families that live with this kind of violence don’t feel alone, or judged, or unsupported.

The Apple Tree Centre and CPRT

Today we’re pleased to bring you a guest post from the newly launched Apple Tree Centre…

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We are Rosie and Jenny, two Play Therapists and mothers to small children. Just this month, we launched The Apple Tree Centre in Sheffield.   As part of our work to support children, young people and families, we are running Child Parent Relationship training courses for parents and carers.

Child-Parent Relationship Therapy (CPRT) is a structured training programme for parents and carers. Delivered by qualified and experienced Play Therapists, the course introduces parents to the essential principles and skills used in Non-Directive Play Therapy, so that they can become “therapeutic agents” for their own children. The training is usually provided to small groups of adults, in ten weekly sessions of two hours each. Additional individual support can be offered if this is needed.

Play is really important to children because it is the most natural way children learn, process experiences and communicate their thoughts and feelings. Bearing this in mind, we train parents and carers to conduct special 30-minute playtimes with their child in their own home, using a kit of carefully selected toys. The adults learn how to respond empathically to their child’s feelings, build their child’s self-esteem, help their child learn self-control and self-responsibility, and set therapeutic limits during these playtimes. For 30 minutes each week, the child is the absolute focus and the adult creates an accepting atmosphere in which the child feels safe to express themselves through their play. This is not a ‘normal’ playtime. It is a special playtime in which the adult follows the lead of the child. Within this half hour, there is no criticism of the child or the play, no praise, no questioning or instructions for the child on what to do or how to do it, and no evaluation of the child’s behaviour or what he or she has produced.

During these special playtimes, the parent/carer will build a different kind of relationship with their child, and the child will discover that they are capable, valid, understood, and accepted just the way they are. When children play under these conditions, they are free to explore their worries in the play and, in the process, release anxieties, stresses, and burdens. The child will then feel more positive about themselves and this will bring about significant differences in their behaviour. CPRT trains parents and carers to focus on the child rather than the child’s problem, and they will begin to react differently to their child both inside and outside of the special playtime.

Co-founders Jenny Reid and Rosie Dymond at the launch of The Apple Tree Centre

Co-founders Jenny Reid and Rosie Dymond at the launch of The Apple Tree Centre

The course is delivered through a mixture of presentations, video clips, group discussions, demonstration and skills practice, including discussion and debrief of the play sessions carried out at home.

Parents are taught

  • to identify and respond to their children’s feelings
  • to use active and reflective listening skills
  • to set effective limits, and
  • to enhance their children’s self esteem.

CPRT is equally suited to enhancing already positive parent-child relationships, enabling parents to support their children through particularly difficult experiences, and helping to build relationships which are new or have been damaged by ill health or life events. The system has proven effective in many different situations, including

  • families with step parents and children
  • foster and adoptive families
  • parents who are imprisoned
  • families affected by physical and mental illness
  • children recovering from trauma and abuse.

CPRT was developed in the United States by Dr. Gary Landreth, from the University of North Texas: a respected practitioner and teacher of Play Therapy. The programme is relatively new to the UK. However, the principles on which it is based have been used therapeutically since the 1960s, and the programme is constantly adapted to ensure that it is equally appropriate for parents, carers and families in Britain. We are really excited to be able to offer the training here in Sheffield, and look forward to contributing to the evaluation of its effectiveness here in the UK.

If you’d like more information about what we offer, please look at our website: www.appletreecentre.co.uk