“If a community values its children, it must cherish their parents” – John Bowlby, 1951
At Beacon House, we are passionate about working with networks who are supporting families at risk of breakdown, where children are identified as being ‘In Need’ or meeting criteria for child protection procedures. We also sometimes work directly with families (or their professional networks) where care proceedings have been initiated, where the parties are open in principle to supporting therapeutic intervention prior to a final hearing. Please note that this sometimes requires an extension to standard timescales, as long as this is safe for the child.
The role that we take is somewhat different from that of an independent expert; we commence every piece of work with an overarching question of “What would need to be put in place for everyone in this family to be safe, and have their needs well met?”
Our work is inspired and shaped by the pioneering writing and research of Dr Patricia Crittenden. Crittenden’s key text, ‘Raising Parents’, shines a light on attachment throughout the lifespan, and the impact of parents’ own early years and developmental experiences on their capacity to safely parent their own children.
“Supporting – cherishing – parents is central to caring for their children. Doing so makes emotional sense, functional sense, and economic sense; parents are the only resource that is never cut back. Moreover, they are the architects of society; let’s value all parents and assist those that need help”
Patricia Crittenden, 2008.
We offer three different pathways for families at risk of breakdown – all with a primary focus of meeting the emotional and psychological needs of the caregiver, and facilitating them to do the same for their children:
- Case Consultation to the Allocated Social Worker
- Case Consultation to the Professional Network
- Parental Therapeutic Needs Assessment
Consultation to the Allocated Social Worker
Why choose this?
This option is useful when:
- There are parts of a family’s situation that are difficult to understand
- There are multiple significant needs, and it is difficult to know which to prioritise
- Things feel ‘stuck’, or expected change is not happening
- It is difficult to accurately assess risk
- Aspects of the case are having a powerful impact upon the allocated worker
What is involved?
Key background reading is undertaken by the consulting Psychologist (e.g. chronology, PAMS assessment, assessments by other mental health professionals).
The Allocated Social Worker meets with the consulting Psychologist (either at one of our clinics, or the Social Worker’s usual base), and is guided through the process of developing a trauma and attachment informed, psychological formulation of the case.
The Social Worker is supported to connect with the emotional and psychological impact of the case for them, and thus, understand the ‘helping’ attachment relationship more deeply. This understanding is incorporated in to the formulation.
What happens next?
Initial recommendations are shared during the consultation session. Recommendations are likely to include:
- Attachment and trauma informed strategies for working with the family
- Priority needs to be addressed (i.e. those most likely to result in timely change)
- How to sequence interventions
- How to optimise the attachment relationship between parents and professionals
A written case formulation will be provided by the consulting Psychologist within two weeks of the consultation.
Case Consultation to the Professional Network
Why choose this?
This is a useful option when:
- A case is complex, with the potential for risk of harm to children or young people is significant, and a number of different agencies are involved
- There are parts of a case that are difficult to understand, and there is a lack of consensus within the professional network
- There are multiple significant needs that require the input of a large number of professionals, and it is difficult to know which to prioritise
- The professional network is not working as effectively together as everyone would like
- Professionals, and the family, feel stuck and frustrated
- Aspects of the case are having a powerful impact upon the all of the professionals involved, which may be manifesting as difficulties in relationships between professionals
What is involved?
Key background reading is undertaken by the consulting Psychologist (e.g. chronology, PAMS assessment, assessments by other mental health professionals)
The entire professional network meets with the consulting Psychologist (either at one of our clinics, or a convenient location for the network), and is guided through the process of developing a trauma and attachment informed, psychological formulation of the case.
Considerable time is dedicated to supporting the entire professional network to connect with the emotional and psychological impact of the case for each individual, and the network as a whole. The patterns of survival, defence, attachment, resilience and compassion within the team will be ‘brought to life’ in the room, and the network will be supported to observe these patterns with acceptance, curiosity and respect. This understanding is incorporated into the formulation.
What happens next?
We ask professional networks to approach these consultations with openness, honesty and self-reflection. Therefore, we do not minute or record what is shared.
In the final part of the meeting, the consulting Psychologist will facilitate the network to bring their reflections together in to a clear and concise plan for future working.
Parental Therapeutic Needs Assessment
Why choose this?
Empirical evidence tells us that the most powerful way to meet the emotional and psychological needs of a child is to meet the emotional and psychological needs of their caregiver. Creating a safe and secure care environment in the home has more profound and long-lasting impact than any individual therapy provision or even a number of discrete therapies.
Working alongside West Sussex County Council, we have developed a specialism in meeting the therapeutic needs of vulnerable parents. Often, parents come to us with a history of significant adversity, disruption, loss and trauma. They may have been removed from their own birth family. They may have insecure and mistrustful attachments with professional caregivers. They may find it difficult to relate openly to ‘help’, as help may feel threatening, overwhelming, or confusing.
A Parental Therapeutic Needs Assessment may be appropriate when there is a recognition that a parent’s own psychological and emotional vulnerabilities are serving to inhibit their capacity to parent their own children in the way that they would want to. We are very happy to work alongside statutory services to proactively engage parents who are anxious, ambivalent or unsure.
What is involved?
We commence all of our assessments with a professional network meeting. It is really important for parents to know that all of the professionals around them are working together in a joined-up way, and that there is an overall commitment to supporting them therapeutically. This meeting happens with the knowledge of the parent, but they would not usually be in attendance. This is an opportunity for professionals to share both their concerns and their hopes.
Following this, we would typically undertake any background reading, and meet with the parent over two to three hours to complete a clinical interview and administer psychological measures. Our aim is to develop a psychological ‘formulation’ of the parent’s difficulties, both as an adult in their own right, and as a parent. This involves developing an understanding of:
- The parent’s own early years environment, early experiences of care, and developmental experiences.
- The story of the parent’s key transitional stages (e.g. childhood to adolescence, adolescence to adulthood).
- Understanding any significant life events, including the experience of becoming a parent.
- A detailed picture of how difficulty and distress impact upon daily life, including the challenges of parenting.
- The factors that seem to make things worse, or stop them from getting better.
- How the parent experiences ‘help’, in the context of their own attachment pattern, and how they relate to professional caregivers.
- The parent’s strengths, resources, skills and qualities.
All of this information is then brought together, underpinned by psychological theory and research evidence. We draw upon this understanding to generate our therapeutic recommendations for the parent.
What happens next?
Our assessment letter will be ready within three weeks of the last assessment appointment. This letter will include our formulation, and detailed recommendations for the type of therapeutic intervention that we think would be most helpful. We will invite the parent and allocated Social Worker to come back to meet with us face-to-face, to share our formulation and therapeutic recommendations. We usually conduct this meeting in two parts, allowing the parent to be the first person that our feedback is shared with.
Where therapeutic intervention is recommended, a phased programme will be devised, allowing the commissioning service to regularly review progress before commissioning the next phase. Please see ‘How will progress be reviewed?’
The psychological interventions that we use with vulnerable parents include:
- Cognitive Analytic Therapy
- Comprehensive Resource Model
- Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing
- Integrative Psychotherapy
- Internal Family Systems Therapy
- Mentalization Based Treatment
- Schema Therapy
- Sensorimotor Psychotherapy
If, as part of a Parental Therapeutic Needs Assessment, it becomes clear that the parent-child relationship could be further supported by a dyadic intervention, this will form part of our recommendations. Most often, individual intervention with parents will be sequenced to take place before their child is brought into a therapeutic space with them.
How will progress be reviewed?
Therapeutic progress is something which is continually reviewed throughout the intervention. During the feedback and treatment planning meeting with the parent and Social Worker, the intervals for review will be agreed. Review can take the form of a telephone call between therapist and Social Worker, a written report, or a professional’s review meeting.
Alongside this, we have three main ways that we evaluate therapeutic progress:
- During the Therapeutic Needs Assessment, the parent will be asked to fill out a number of questionnaires, which will be re-administered at the end of each piece of work.
- At the start of the therapeutic intervention, the parent will be asked to identify three therapeutic goals, and scale them to show how well they feel they are achieving those goals. We will review these goals and the scaling at the end of therapy.
- At the end of therapy, both parent and referrer will be asked to tell us how satisfied you feel with your experience of coming to Beacon House, and whether you feel the difficulties you have been working on have improved.
How do I make a referral?
You can request a referral form by contacting the clinic on 01444 413939. Alternatively, you can email email@example.com. Please specify which service you are requesting: case consultation, professional network case consultation, or therapeutic needs assessment and your preference of whether the work should take place from our Cuckfield or Chichester clinic. If you are unsure of the right option, please feel free to request a free of charge initial telephone conversation with Dr Laura France, Adult Services Lead, to help you to select the most appropriate service.
Your referral form and supporting documentation will be reviewed by our Adult Services Lead, who will then provide an estimate within three working days. We are usually able to commence work immediately on the receipt of a Purchase Order number. We do not have a waiting list and can usually organise the first appointment within two weeks.
Our commitment to working therapeutically with parents is rooted in our commitment to the safety, protection and well-being of children. Please see our Safeguarding Policy here.
Getting in Touch
If you have any questions about our services please feel free to pick up the phone to us on 01444 413 939 or send us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org, we welcome informal conversations about whether we are the right service for you. To make a referral please click here.
(Please do not send Post or attend for Therapy)
Registered Name Beacon House Psychological Services Ltd
Registered in England and Wales.
Registered Address AD5 Littlehampton Marina, Ferry Road, Littlehampton BN17 5DS
Registered No: 09205920Chichester 01243 219 900Cuckfield 01444 413 939Enquiry: Message Us