Therapeutic observation of an infant in foster care

Wakelyn, Jenifer (2011) Therapeutic observation of an infant in foster care. Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 37 (3). pp. 280-310. ISSN 0075-417X

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Abstract/Book Review

The paper describes a clinical research study of therapeutic observation of an infant in foster care. Infants and children under five represent more than half of all children entering care in the UK. The emotional needs of this population tend to be overlooked. This study aimed to find out about the experience of an infant or young child in care, to learn about possible reasons for the under-detection of mental health and emotional difficulties in a group of particularly vulnerable children, and to inform training and support for professionals. Therapeutic observation has been reported to be a cost-effective, home-based component in multidisciplinary treatments for infants and young children with a range of difficulties. The study found that the model was acceptable to foster carers and provided a child-centred perspective to the professional network. Grounded theory analysis of the observational data produced a description of dynamics around the infant in foster care, varying from experiences of emotional connectedness and containment (Matrix) to those of confusion, pressure and fragmentation (Tornado), dissociation (Machine), and drift or provisionality (Limbo). Observational data suggested that when ‘Tornado’, ‘Machine’ and Limbo dominate, organisation is driven by trauma rather than by development. This increases the risk of losing contact with the emotional reality of children's experiences. Dilemmas are also explored in relation to the transition from foster care to adoption. The study highlights the role of specialist training to support emotionally responsive caregiving for infants and young children in care. Further research is suggested to investigate the application of this model with infants and young children in a range of care contexts.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Available online: 24 Oct 2011
Uncontrolled Keywords: Looked After Infant, Foster Carer, Transition to Adoption, Therapeutic Observation, Clinical Research, Grounded Theory
Subjects: Children, Young People and Developmental Pyschology > Adoption & Fostering- Social Welfare
Children, Young People and Developmental Pyschology > Adoption & Fostering- Psychology
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services
Depositing User: Ms Linda Dolben
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2012 12:02
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2016 10:28

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