What we offer

The team at Atkinson has a wealth of experience and has developed significant strategies to challenge each young person’s expectation of life. For many young people, it is the first time that they have lived in a home where they receive such a high focus of care and support, allowing them the opportunity to gain insight into how their life is significantly different to their peers in society.

When young people arrive, we provide a full health screening, including mental and physical health, neurodisability and substance misuse, alongside an educational assessment, which informs our ‘psychological formulation’ for each young person.  This helps us to understand their story and their ongoing needs.

We aim to help children and young people understand and manage their emotions more effectively through trauma informed parenting.  Understanding their story, providing emotional as well as physical security and helping them to process their trauma is fundamental for recovery.  Being emotionally regulated will reduce risky behaviours and make it possible to return to a positive lifestyle in the community.

Our team and our partners

Each young person has their own key worker and case co-ordinator to meet their needs and work through issues that are highlighted in the placement plan. Some of these issues may include feeling safe, relationships with peers, self-esteem, self-confidence, healthy social relationships, attitudes and boundaries.  Staff maintain close contact with parents, carers and social workers to keep them updated with their young person’s progress and any developments.

We work with a dedicated Health and Wellbeing team, which includes our integrated Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).  An important part of their role is to support our staff in looking after the very complex and often challenging everyday care needs of our young people.  They also, where appropriate, address acute presentations of mental health difficulties and monitor young people’s mental health during their stay.  The CAMHS team consists of a Principal Clinical Psychologist, two Advanced Mental Health Practitioners who are also trained in Social Work and a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist. 

Our Health and Wellbeing Team Co-ordinator oversees our wider Health and Wellbeing team, which includes a Speech and Language Therapist, Occupational Therapist, a specialist exploitation worker, specialist substance misuse workers, our Nurse and our G.P.s.  In addition, a Dentist and Optician visit as required.

Why are we using Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP)?

We have recognised that all of our children and young people have experienced some form of trauma which affects their emotional and social development. As a result, we must ensure our staff have the knowledge and skills to manage our children therapeutically.

Following research and consultation with our Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) colleagues we believe the principals of Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP) (Dan Hughes) best meets the needs of our children and young people.  The therapy is theoretically based on models of attachment theory and intersubjectivity, which is consistent with the needs of children and young people who have experienced developmental trauma.

Although DDP was originally developed as a psychotherapeutic intervention for families who were fostering or had adopted children, Dyadic Developmental Practice, delivered outside of a clinic setting, is now being seen to have much wider applications.

Following on from our work with a Consultant DDP Therapist and training at both Level 1 and Level 2 DDP, our CAMHS and senior Care colleagues have been able to deliver therapeutic parenting training to our staff team across the home, which is specifically adapted to our secure setting and anchored in the principals of DDP.  Crucially, this training addresses the needs of the staff team in helping them to stay emotionally attuned to the young people they work with.  Together they can provide the child with a corrective developmental experience that will help them to grow and heal emotionally.