Report 58: Therapeutic approaches to social work in residential child care settings

Impact on staff

It allows you to look behind the behaviour to see what’s causing the problem with the young people, [I] feel Sanctuary enables you to do this no matter how short a time you have to work with the child.

Residential child care worker

Did the training help people to learn?

In general, staff were satisfied with the training in the therapeutic models, and felt the training gave them enough knowledge to begin to put the various models into practice.

In the survey, just under 69 per cent of those who had received training said they were ‘very confident’ or ‘completely confident’ that the training had given them an understanding of how to implement the model, and the necessary skills to do so.

What impact did the training have on practice?

Overall, the evidence from interviewees was that all of the models had improved practice in some significant way. This included changes in the way that staff view and respond to the children in their care, and in particular to challenging behaviour.

Some of the main changes included:

Staff reported a shift in perspective from managing – which often meant containing – behaviour, to a focus on trying to understand what children had been through and why they might be behaving in a particular way.

Stressful situations were felt to be easier to handle, and staff placed less emphasis on punishing challenging behaviour and more on negotiating with the young person, with positive overall effects.

Eight out of ten survey respondents said their practice had either shown some improvement or had improved significantly as a result of the model-specific training they had received.

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