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4 reasons why we use the therapeutic fostering approach

Many children in care need extra support in healing from their troubled pasts, which is why at Fostering People, we’re dedicated to fostering therapeutically. Discover why below.

January 3 2023 - 3 min read

Foster partent showing Therapeutic Fostering

What is therapeutic fostering?

The sad reality is that most of the children who need fostering have suffered significant trauma in their early lives, such as abuse, neglect, domestic violence or the death of a parent. We call these Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), and they can often lead to issues with a child’s emotional, social and psychological development. As such, sometimes the love and stability from a foster family isn’t enough on its own, and these children need extra support to recover from their turbulent pasts.

Part of this comes in the way of therapeutic fostering. It’s an effective, specialist approach that is committed to delivering life-changing outcomes for kids and young people. A variety of challenges can arise when you’re fostering a child with a troubled history, such as unruly behaviour, emotional instability and mental illness. Therapeutic fostering teaches us to tackle these issues through understanding the reasons behind the behaviour, rather than simply reacting to it. When a child lashes out because they lost a game, for example, it’s more often than not rooted in something deeper. Perhaps it’s because losing makes them feel like a failure, triggering emotions from their past.

Essentially, it’s about digging into the reasons why a child is behaving the way they are, and using therapeutic fostering tools to help them overcome it.

What does therapeutic fostering look like?

Therapeutic fostering is a parenting style and philosophy that has a plethora of techniques to help children make positive strides forward.

Being part of the child’s therapy plan

For some children, it might be decided as part of their individual care plan that they’ll benefit from seeing a specialist therapist. They'll work with the child to provide professional guidance and counselling that in turn, supports the work of foster parents. Being closely ingrained the child’s therapy plan is a huge benefit as it ensures the work continues at home.

Empathising with the child

Fostering therapeutically means having empathy by the bucket-load. Listening, talking and putting yourself in the child’s shoes will enable you to understand where their emotions are rooted. Only then can you help them to explore what they’re feeling and work with them to find better coping strategies.

Looking past their behaviour

Reacting to an angry child with annoyance, impatience or frustration will never help them break their behavioural cycle. It can, in fact, make their behaviour worse. When you foster a child using the therapeutic approach, you need to see the behaviour as an indicator of something much deeper. They are trying to communicate with you but lack the tools to do so appropriately. Showing unwavering love and care no matter what they say or do will demonstrate your commitment to them and help them open up.

The PACE model

Our particular approach to therapeutic fostering is grounded in the PACE model. This stands for Play, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy. These are all vital elements in building trust and confidence within children. All of our social workers are given PACE training so they’re equipped to support our foster parents. Fostering children using this model can counter the impact of childhood trauma and help young people get their lives back on track.

4 reasons why our therapeutic fostering approach works

  1. Often, many children don’t receive therapy unless they have access to a therapist or CAMHS. (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services). This means only those children who are most in need receive 121 therapy services. At Fostering People, all our staff and foster parents receive training and support on PACE parenting, which in turn ensures all children receive therapeutic support to help with their individual trauma.
  2. We offer ‘Reflect’ groups, which enables foster parents to have therapy sessions themselves to help them process and reflect on their own experiences of parenting their foster child. This helps significantly to understand why certain behaviours are being exhibited, and provides practical solutions to help children find healthier ways to express their emotions.
  3. Therapeutic fostering is holistic in the sense that we are trying to improve a child’s psychological, emotional and behavioural development. Rather than dealing with incidents as isolated cases, we take a child’s behaviour and look at it as a whole, noticing patterns or triggers that give us insight into the child’s world.
  4. We provide all of our foster parents with training in therapeutic fostering to enable them to support children from different backgrounds. It’s a methodology that might be different to how you have parented before, but you don’t need prior experience. We’ll give you all the tools and support you need to become an amazing therapeutic foster parent.

Could you foster a child in need?

There are thousands of children who currently need the love and support of a foster parent. If you think you could give a vulnerable child the care and support they need, please get in touch with our expert team today.

Or, download our Fostering Process for Beginner’s guide for a complete overview of fostering.