Towards an understanding of the 'therapeutic' in foster care: An exploration of foster carers' capacities to help heal children with trauma

Christopher Harkness

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This paper explores foster carers' therapeutic capacities. This topic arises from advances in knowledge of the adverse effects of complex trauma on children's social, emotional and cognitive development. A growing expectation of fostering agencies is that their carers work within a therapeutic framework. Knowledge of foster carers' therapeutic capacities has importance, because while foster carers are the primary agents of therapeutic change for these children, the skills and processes in which they do so are not well understood. Eighteen foster carers who work within a therapeutic framework were interviewed about their perceptions of therapeutic care. Their responses were analysed using an ecological systems framework. Foundational to therapeutic care is the mesosystem, the relationship between the foster carer and the child. Key elements of this relationship are safety, trust and love. There are two other aspects to therapeutic care: the microsystem, which represents therapeutic capacities that foster carers exercise to help in the recovery of these children, and the exosystem, which includes the networks of support that foster carers require to exercise therapeutic care. This paper will present key findings relating to foster carers' therapeutic capacities. I will also consider some key implications for fostering agencies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-72
Number of pages8
JournalChildren Australia
Volume44
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019

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