The By the Bridge Therapeutic Philosophy
At By the Bridge, the children in our care are at the centre of everything that we do. We see our Foster Parents as our primary resource to enable opportunity for growth and recovery for our children. We see the family environment as having real potential for creating a continuously available arena for therapeutic healing. Through nurturing therapeutic parenting, our families offer our children the essential relational experiences they have missed. Therapeutic Parenting requires a different approach to traditional parenting. It places important emphasis on a depth of nurture, empathy and attunement. It is a relational, resourceful and skilful way to parent our children who we know have been impacted by experiences of trauma and adversity.
“…it shows me ways of talking, listening and understanding from the child’s point of view.”
Kerrie, By the Bridge Therapeutic Foster Parent
We always hold in mind that our children view relationships based on past relational, social and cultural experiences. We know they have been influenced and shaped by all they have seen, heard and experienced, and this can become conflicting and confusing as they experience a caring, nurturing and respectful engagement with their Foster family. We understand that our children have developed defences, known as adapted behaviours, and we appreciate that although these adapted behaviours can be harmful, destructive and often self sabotaging, they have been the strategies that have allowed them to survive the harsh environments they were subjected to. We understand that our children are responding and reacting through their display of behaviour from a place of survival.
Therapeutic parenting considers that offering consequences to presenting challenging behaviours will have little to no effect. We encourage our Foster Parents to see the need behind the behaviour, and to focus on meeting the need rather than working consequentially with the behaviour. At By the Bridge we are curious about the things we cannot see. We ask, “What has happened to you; what have you lived through?”, rather than “What is wrong with you?” We seek to understand the narrative of our children’s lives and how it has impacted their internal world and sense of self. We encourage the child to tell their life story at their own pace, and for them to experience the relational qualities of being seen, heard and empathised with. We ask our foster parents to creatively and playfully attune to the child, inviting them into the relationship. It is via this connection that the child experiences the parent-child attachment and this helps the child to begin to make meaning of their experiences and to form a positive sense of identity. The child’s experience of being in relationship helps them develop the confidence to explore and share what is held internally.
“I have more self awareness and a better understanding of how I can tackle situations in a therapeutic way.”
Joanne, By the Bridge Therapeutic Foster Parent.
Our fundamental aim is to provide the very best opportunity for our children to feel safe, have healthy relationships, and heal and grow into emotionally, psychologically and physically healthy, happy individuals who will thrive in the world. We celebrate and positively reinforce the resilience of our children as we explore their hopes and dreams while continuously being delighted by the uniqueness of who they are.
By placing children with carefully matched, therapeutically trained families, we aim for our children to be given a reparative and healing experience that will contribute significantly to their recovery from all that has been missed and the trauma that they have endured.
Our therapeutic philosophy for responding to our children’s complex presentations is underpinned and informed by cutting edge theory, science and research. Our staff and Foster Parents are therapeutically educated and trauma informed, and they are supported by a team of professionally trained psychotherapists. Professional curiosity is embedded in all of the therapeutic work. Reflective practice and personal and professional development is continuously integrated into our work within the organisation.