Psychotherapies in a foster care setting

The provision of foster care in the UK has now to accommodate a situation where increasing numbers of young people require therapy. 65% of foster children in care at 31st march 2017 had experienced abuse or neglect. As a consequence, many were traumatised. There is a real need for people considering foster care to opt to become therapeutically trained. It is likely that moving forward, training will focus more and more upon the merits of this approach. For some children, specialist intervention is required to ameliorate the effects of traumatic experiences. Therapeutic foster carers are required to provide background support for children that may be receiving therapy. A basic understanding of the different types of therapy employed is useful in terms of knowledge building.

Therapeutic foster care: psychotherapies.

There are different kinds of psychotherapies. Essentially, they are described as ’talking treatments’ involving both therapeutic conversations – as well as interactions – between the therapist and a child. The family may also be involved. The intention is to effect behavioural change through a shared understanding of problems and how best they may be resolved. Many psychotherapies are ‘relationship based treatments’ which aim to bring improvement to a young person’s relationships. The relationships themselves can be used as the means to deliver improvements. In this blog, we start by detailing three psychotherapeutic  approaches.

  1. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – this is one of the most researched  types of psychotherapy. It is delivered in various formats as a collaborative treatment. It can be one to one with a child, young person, with parents or family or in a group. The uses of CBT extend across a range of mental health conditions. These can include: post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, eating disorders, anxiety disorder,  and obsessive compulsive disorder. CBT helps children and young people to recognise their feelings as well as the bodily feelings that accompany them. It also helps them to clarify their thought processes as well as develop coping strategies.
  1. Mentalization based treatment (MBT) – this treatment is based on the idea that people who may have attachment difficulties or borderline personality disorder suffer from a poor ability to mentalise. It is used to treat depression, self harming, anxiety and early development trauma. MBT allows children and young people when helped by a therapist, to improve their ability to recognise the feelings and thoughts they have. They are then encouraged to think about whether they are valid. This can be helpful in aiding children and young people to resist impulses and decide upon a different way to behave. Mentalization is encouraging the ability to ‘think about thinking’. The ability to draw back from thoughts and urges that could be potentially harmful is encouraged – as is the facility to comprehend the thinking behind them. Understanding the thoughts, emotions, needs and wishes of others is also a goal.
  1. Mindfulness -this is a mind/body approach that facilitates people in changing the way they think about their experiences. This relates particularly to stressful experiences. The idea is to pay attention to thoughts and feelings and manage them better through not being caught up in them.

Foster a change in your life: join Rainbow.

If you have been thinking about foster care as a career, you’ll have so many questions: how long does it take to become a foster carer? Will I be allowed to foster if I don’t own my own home? Do you have to have a garden to foster? Do foster carers have to have a medical check?

What is therapeutic foster care? We have all the answers to your questions and can give you an accurate idea about what fostering involves. After talking with us, you might decide to think about therapeutic foster care. We offer the best in training so you will be able to offer a child or young person a secure and stable home. Call 020 8427 3355 and find out if fostering can bring you the rewards it has brought to so many of our foster carers.

Visit our fostering news page: latest stories at

More birthdays to celebrate in our Rainbow foster care community – that’s the good news at the end of today’s Rainbow!