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Therapeutic training

Therapeutic training and clinical supervisions are essential components of staff support and professional development in our home, enabling staff to provide trauma-informed care, build therapeutic relationships, manage challenging behaviours and foster positive outcomes for the children and young people.

At First 4 Care we work closely with Sheila O’Connor who is a registered Social Worker and has trained in different models of therapeutic interventions for children and young people for over 25 years. During this time Sheila has worked within therapy and therapeutic teams within the voluntary/charity sector, local authorities and NHS CAMHS. Sheila also works with adoptive children, young people and their families.

Sheila is a trainer and has for many years developed and delivered training to foster carers, Social Workers, and residential staff. Sheila has currently completed the taught component in advance psychotherapy training for adult work, as she believes that supporting the adults in the child’s life is of equal importance. She is presently awaiting accreditation.

First4Care   – Therapeutic Model

Evidence based therapeutic models and interventions are at the core of all work that is undertaken by First 4 Care staff with children and young people. First 4 Care closely follow the NICE guidelines for young people placed in residential homes. The main theories are Attachment, Developmental Trauma and Child Development and the main two core models which have been integrated by First4Care are Dr Dan Hughes’ Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP) element which is referred to as PACE (playfulness, acceptance, curiosity and empathy), and the Secure Base model, developed by Professor Gillian Schofield and Dr Mary Beek (this model was recommended in the Government White Paper, Care Matters (2007) as a basis for training foster carers). PACE is an evidenced based approach to working with children who hold complex trauma. This therapeutic approach has become increasingly used in helping children with attachment and trauma related experiences within both foster homes and residential homes throughout the UK. The PACE approach is family based and focuses on the facilitation of the children’s ability to establish attachment security with carers. The Secure Base model is drawn from attachment theory, and adapted to include an additional element, that of family membership, for children who are separated from their birth families. By integrating the two models, First4Care aims to offer a balanced approach to support for children removed from their family of birth.


To offer appropriate therapeutic support to a young people/children placed in the care of First4Care residential homes in a measured and timely manner based upon recent guidelines provide by NICE as well as wider research into how best to support children removed from their family of birth. The therapeutic support that is offered is carried out within the ethos of the ‘team around the placement’ approach which includes the young person/child’s network. The child’s network may include the residential staff, (namely the key people), the young person/child’s Social Worker and Education i.e., school or tutor., as well as birth parents, where deemed safe to do so.


First4Care offers a programme of support based upon the individual child’s identified need, as indicated after an assessment period within the home. The programme of support is also based upon the placing Local Authority’s care plan and timescales with regards to how long the child may remain within the care of First4Care home. This is due to the fact that some Local Authorities may place a child with a view to return a child to their birth families, or to transition a child into a long foster family. Or for older children in their late teens that may be placed with a long term view to remain until transitioning to independent living.

An integrative approach is used by First4Care homes which includes the following:

  • Psychological approaches by clinical psychologists such as Dan Hughes and his developmental approach, and his work on ‘block trust’ and ‘blocked care’
  • Secure Base by Beek & Schofield.
  • Ecological Systems Theory
  • Developmental trauma and attachment theory
  • Behavioural approaches i.e., expectations set out and modelled, & rewards based progress
  • Training, e.g. attachment in relation from infancy to adolescence , relational developmental trauma, narrative and social stories, loss, self-harm, supporting the child who has experienced sexual abuse etc.
  • Narrative work
  • Therapeutic life story work
  • The Child’s Voice
  • The Signs of Safety mapping tool
  • PACE & Secure Base training