Attachment-Focused Residential Care Treatment Model recognizes that children develop a healthy sense of self, regulated emotions, thoughtful actions and reciprocal relationships when they experience their parents, guardians and other caregivers as a safe haven and secure base from which to explore the world. Many things can disrupt secure-attachment-promoted healthy development. Attachment-focused parenting, therapy and other forms of care teach kids and their caregivers skills to “build the bonds of attachment,” and keep development on track — or get it back on track if it has gone off.
DDP stands for Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy. Daniel A. Hughes, Ph.D., a Clinical Psychologist, created Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP) as a treatment for families with adopted or fostered children who had experienced neglect and abuse in their birth families and suffered from significant developmental trauma.
DDP is an evidence-based treatment approach that is effective for children with complex trauma, reactive attachment disorder (RAD), and other disorders of attachment. It is an approach that is primarily family-focused. The various elements of dyadic developmental psychotherapy, such as a focus on relationships, attunement, inter-subjectivity, and sensitive responsiveness are all well researched elements of effective treatments.
PACE is the central therapeutic intention held throughout all interactions in our Attachment-Focused Residential Treatment model. We invite connection and accountability by using the attitude of PACE, which leads to a secure foundation for healthy, safe, and fun relationships. PACE is used to help make children feel a sense of emotional safety so that they can learn to accept care and direction from our staff.
All residential staff are extensively trained to use the attitude of PACE. This “connection before correction” approach is a way to address problems in a way that doesn’t threaten the child. We understand that many of the children in our program will try to “be in charge” of staff emotions and that these children feel a sense of safety from controlling the emotions of others. PACE is a way to protect children and staff from letting strong emotions “hijack” their abilities to make safe decisions. Over time children learn to manage their own feelings and practice “being in charge” of themselves instead of trying to aggressively control others.
“It is the connection between the (staff) and the child that is central to (her success in treatment), not the corrections that are applied. Connection – not correction – is repeatedly able to guide a child in a positive manner without sacrificing her autonomy and individuality.”
— Adapted from Daniel A. Hughes, Ph.D., Attachment-Focused Parenting, 2009
Therapeutic “Transitional” Community
A Therapeutic “Transitional” Community allows children to practice attachment skills and learn that interpersonal relationships can be satisfying by experiencing meaningful transitional attachments. The community is designed to be a temporary stepping-stone to enable children who struggle with relational safety to learn and practice how to form and maintain healthy attachments. Intense focus on safety and relational reciprocity is emphasized in daily community living. Once a youth is able to practice attachment and interpersonal relationship skills within the therapeutic community the youth returns to new or existing families and their larger community.
A Therapeutic “Transitional” Community is a place where…
- youth learn to accept care and support from others
- youth can learn to notice good intentions
- youth learn to identify, communicate and regulate emotion
- youth begin to understand the consequences of one’s behaviors for others
- youth begin to understand the consequences of others’ behaviors for oneself