A 15 week programme of Attachment-Based Therapy for parents and their children.
Using Dan Hughes ‘PACE’ parenting techniques
Nurturing Parents consists of 8 weekly group sessions for parents, 3 weeks of 1:1 Parent therapy and 3 weeks of Parent/child therapy.
The programme enables parents to understand their role in their children’s emotional well being and gives them space to consider how their own emotional state impacts their children. It focuses on enabling parents to foster emotional dialogue within the family. Children’s emotional issues are better managed in a family where the dynamic is positive and robust enough to maintain firm boundaries whilst also displaying love and empathy.
The Beck at Gipsil has worked for several years providing therapeutic support in the East community and in Leeds schools. We have identified a gap in the provision of mental health services where there is a large number of referrals for children with attachment issues and/or traumatic early life experiences. Many of these children have exhausted cluster support services but do not meet the CAMHS thresholds.
Working with these children & young people in isolation cannot fully address the issues. Attachment issues have to be addressed within a family context and the children/YP need to build safe and supportive relationships within their own family in order to develop resilience and to be able to thrive.
Children in families who have difficulties may have come to believe that their parents aren’t safe and can’t always be turned to for comfort and help. They can develop insecure attachment patterns and defensive behaviours.
This therapy helps children learn to trust their parents and helps the parent to develop the following skills:
Playfulness - bringing enjoyment to the parent child relationship.
Acceptance - creating psychological safety for the family.
Curiosity - demonstrating a desire to know the other more deeply.
Empathy - acknowledging and communicating an accepting response to emotional experiences.
PACE: a way of thinking, feeling, communicating and behaving that aims to make the child feel safe because it is based on how parents communicate and bond with very young children. A child experiencing parenting with PACE will begin to develop emotionally and to believe that their parent will meet their needs.
Nurturing Parenting techniques are useful in all family situations and for all age groups. They enable parents to contain and hold strong emotions such as; jealousy, sorrow or anger whilst also offering empathy and interaction with their child. Some child development psycho-education also aids parents to understand the key stages of development and how emotional issues develop in children.
The course is challenging but supportive; delivered by therapists who are experienced in working with parents and children. Parents will learn ‘brain based’ emotional parenting techniques that recognise recent developments in neuroscience, alongside the importance of listening skills, empathy and inter- subjectivity.
Participants will be supported to understand their own attachment patterns and the impact of how they were parented on their parenting style. They will learn about basic attachment ideas and the use of empathy and mindfulness in developing positive attachments
Initially all parents are assessed; once they join there is an 8 week group programme followed by 3 individual sessions with parents and if appropriate 3 therapist sessions with parent & child together. These are used to encourage skill development and positive attachment behaviours and help to embed the techniques they have learned in all family life.
This programme draws heavily on Dr. Dan Hughes’ Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy; an effective form of treatment developed for children who have experienced significant Developmental Trauma. A large empirical outcome study across three countries is currently in process, and will be submitted to peer-reviewed journals following outcome data processing.
You can find more information on DDP at:
For our evaluation we will use the Parent Stress Scale pre and post programme. This scale was developed by Berry and Jones (1995) and will provide a measure of the changes in parental stress levels over the 15 weeks. Lower levels of parental stress are related to: higher levels of parental sensitivity to the child; improved child behaviour and a greater quality of parent-child relationship.
Berry, JD,& Jones, W,H (1995) The Parental Stress Scale: initial psychometric evidence. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 12, 463-474.
About our therapists:
SUE CAMPBELL reg BACP (accred)
Sue Campbell is a fully qualified and BACP accredited counsellor and supervisor with many years of experience of working with children, young people and adults. She has recently completed her DDP level 1 training and is also a qualified teacher with experience of working with groups of all ages. Until recently she was the Counselling Co-ordinator for The Beck at Gipsil where she set up and managed their team of counsellors working in 17 schools in the Seacroft Manston Cluster. She has also worked in adult training, facilitating groups in management and leadership skills and values based approaches. She has designed and delivered programmes for school staff around self-harm and safeguarding.
GEORGIA COOPER reg MBACP
Georgia is an experienced, fully qualified and BACP registered counsellor (since 2002) and has run issue based group work since 1998. She works across education, NHS and the voluntary sector and has a small private practice. She supervises many trainee and qualified counsellors including school therapists in the Seacroft Manston cluster. She runs the counselling service at the Northern Dance School and is a visiting therapist on the oncology wards in Leeds. She has many years experience devising and delivering learning opportunities; in Further & Higher Educational settings, informal groups and in a training capacity. In 2014 she was lead tutor of a CPCAB level 3 & level 4 Certificate in Counselling Children. She recently completed Level 2 of a Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy training and is now delivering DDP therapeutic interventions to adoptive families as part of a package of support offered by an adoption charity based in North Yorkshire.
This article first appeared in the June 2017 issue of BACP Children & Young People, published by the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy ©2017
A copy of the article can be downloaded below: