Our therapeutic approach

The primary objective of the home is to provide, above all, a place of safety for young people. We aim to do this by creating an environment that is physically and emotionally containing – where staff are predictable in their responses to young people and where consistent boundaries around young people’s behaviour and social interaction are communicated and maintained.

The home’s approach to working with young people secured under welfare orders is to help them to explore, as far as possible, their own understanding of the nature of risk that has led to them being secured, to help them see what other choices they may make in the future and to help them practise new skills in living.

Secure Stairs

Atkinson is fully aligned with the ethos of ‘Secure Stairs’. This is an NHS England initiative rolled out across the secure estate in partnership with the Department for Education, the Ministry of Justice and the Youth Custody Service. This framework for integrated care recognised that:

  • our young people have complex needs and have experienced trauma
  • we need to help our young people make sense of their stories (what we call ‘formulation’)
  • we need to use this understanding (or formulation) to think about how we care for our young people now and how we plan for their future
  • we need to take care of our staff team (with supervision, training and support) so that they can take care of our young people
  • we need a ‘whole systems approach’; ‘every interaction matters’

Secure Stairs ensures that we have emotional, resilient staff who are well-trained and have the right skill set, and who are given opportunities to reflect on their practice. 

It also emphasises the importance of psychological formulation, which helps us to make sense of each young person’s presenting needs. Specialist interventions are then tailored specifically to each young person, with the aim of achieving sustainable change on their transition back into the community.