Secure Base Model
Working therapeutically with children and young people is a cornerstone of successful childcare.
Read about our therapeutic approach to enhancing children’s lives.
What is Therapeutic Care?
Many agencies supporting young people will say they offer therapeutic care. But what does therapeutic care actually mean?
To us, therapeutic care means following a consistent parenting approach within a theoretical framework, which helps carers identify and meet a child’s specific needs.
It means we use approaches that are supported by decades of research on child development, therapeutic interventions and children’s outcomes.
Supporting children who have suffered trauma or adverse childhood experiences requires more than just ‘good enough’ parenting.
Providers offering residential, fostering or education services to vulnerable children must consider therapeutic models and interventions, as we have, if they are to prioritise children’s outcomes.
Secure Base - A Therapeutic Approach
Throughout all our services, we use therapeutic approaches underpinned by The Secure Base model.
The Secure Base model was developed through a range of research and practice dissemination projects led by Professor Gillian Schofield and Dr Mary Beek in the Centre for Research on Children and Families. The model provides a framework for therapeutic caregiving which builds resilience and helps infants, children and young people move towards greater security.
When you think about it, a secure base is at the heart of any successful caregiving environment, whether that’s within a birth family, foster care, residential care or education.
Children need to feel secure in their relationships with the adults who look after them. Where children have not experienced the kind of sensitive parenting that promotes security and resilience, they will find it difficult to trust and will struggle with managing their thoughts, feelings and behaviour.
Therefore, caregivers need to be supported and equipped to offer a consistent, reliable base from which children can explore, and also have the capacity to offer a safe haven for reassurance when there are difficulties in order to assist healthy childhood development.
How does it work?
The Secure Base model is drawn from attachment theory and adapted to include an additional element, ‘family membership’, for children who are separated from their birth families.
The model proposes five dimensions of caregiving Availability, Sensitivity, Acceptance, Co-operation and Family Membership, each of which is associated with a corresponding developmental benefit for the child.
The dimensions overlap and combine with each other to create a secure base, as represented above. For example, a caregiver who is playing with a child in a focused, child-led way may be doing so with sensitivity and acceptance as well as demonstrating availability and promoting co-operation.
It was recommended in the Government White Paper, Care Matters (2007) as a basis for training foster carers and was subsequently incorporated into the Skills to Foster preparation programme, produced by the Fostering Network (2009, 2014).
How do we use secure base?
All our services focus on reflective practice and therapeutic interventions underpinned and informed by ‘The Secure Base Model’. It is incorporated into our recruitment process, our fostering assessments, staff supervisions and appraisals and our day-to-day work.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to be an expert on Secure Base or know anything about it when you join Family Care. We will take you through it step-by-step.
Our in-house therapists train all our fosters carers and staff to work within the Secure Base framework, so you’ll be comfortable with it in no time at all. If you’re applying to become a foster carer you will learn about the model in your Skills to Foster training, and we hold several training events on Secure Base every year.
We have also established a professional relationship with Professor Gillian Schofield who led the project that developed Secure Base.
Gillian attended our annual roadshow in 2016 and led a conference training event the following year to the benefit of all our foster carers and staff.
We have since remained in contact with both Gillian Schofield and Mary Beek to share ideas and progress. This support has helped us make sure we use The Secure Base Model in the right way.
Want to know more?
The model was developed in the Centre for Research on Children and Families at the University of East Anglia. And it doesn’t just apply to caring for young people, it also applies to Schools and within teams.