Sarah Naish talks about Therapeutic Parenting in a real life setting
Foster Carers and adopters usually trudge in to our training, feeling worn out, drained and rather like they would prefer to be spending this precious free time relaxing instead!
When they leave they are inspired, enthusiastic and say;
'It’s like the lights have gone on! I now believe I can really do this'!
'Everything now makes sense. I feel truly inspired'.
'I wish I had had this training years ago. It will make such a difference to me'.
The reason? I adopted 5 siblings with attachment difficulties, 17 years ago. Once the children were all reunited and placed with me, traumatic issues from their birth family began to resurface more, and I found myself on a crash course about Attachment, Trauma and Therapeutic Re-parenting. With shame I remembered all the adoptive and foster families I had inadvertently patronised as a well-meaning Social Worker. Now I understood what it was like to live with children with Attachment Disorder!
They taught me how to be a therapeutic parent, and what attachment disorder meant. I then took all the strategies I had learned and opened my own fostering agency, which I ran until March 2015. We gained an Ofsted 'Outstanding' grading in direct recognition of our successful therapeutic model which kept children in placement and supported foster carers very effectively, offering them a true understanding of their task.
We knew that we needed to give more carers the tools they really needed to heal children, so I then started Inspire Training Group, and began delivering training to lots of fostering agencies and local authorities. We now work intensively helping foster carers and adopters as well as supporting professionals to become high level specialists in therapeutic parenting through our training.
As a Therapeutic Parent I learned the importance of routines and boundaries, never being vague, being 100% reliable, as well as the necessity to always be thinking outside the box and about the effects of the children's early missed nurture. I also learnt, and now teach all about how the children need a different kind of parenting. Take all the star charts and throw them away!
It has been extremely tough to try to get all the children to where they need to be, and there have been many days where it all seemed too much. I have learned about secondary trauma, and 'compassion fatigue'. This is when the carer literally 'runs out of care'. We are carrying out the first research into this in the UK. I now help foster carers, adopters and supporting social workers to recognise compassion fatigue and give them strategies to overcome it.
The most important thing was to break the 'cycle of abuse' and to help my children to form reciprocal relationships. The best reward has been seeing the children grow into adults who are securely attached, have reciprocal relationships, and good parenting abilities.
My main motivation now, is to help as many foster carers and adopters as I can to achieve the same, or better, feel inspired to make a real difference and to become dedicated therapeutic foster carers and adopters themselves.
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