The Development of Therapeutic Models

For organizations and professionals who provide services for children and young people who are in residential and foster care, education and therapy.

What is a Model?

In recent years there has been worldwide research about the ordinary developmental needs of children and young people as well as the specific needs of those who are in ‘out of home care’. There has been a focus on what is needed to promote child development and to help children recover from trauma to achieve positive long-term outcomes.

A Therapeutic Model is a way of describing the way a whole organization works to enable recovery for children and young people from adverse life experiences such as abuse and neglect, which have impacted negatively on their development. A Model can be conceptualised in a document, providing guidance and a common reference point. It will reflect the way the whole organization works, with all policies and procedures aligned with it.

Unfortunately, in many societies experiences of trauma are becoming increasingly commonplace. The expertise developed in work with children and young people who once would have been considered to be in a minority, is now also becoming relevant to the wider population, such as many children in the mainstream education system.

It is clearly beneficial for most people and organizations who work with children to have an understanding of trauma and how to respond to it. This is called becoming Trauma-Informed.

What is included?

A Model will include the therapeutic approaches and methods involved in the direct work with children and young people. It will also include how all aspects of the organization, such as, leadership, management, core values, policies and procedures, staff support and training, are effectively integrated within the model. The organizational culture needs to support and facilitate the work with the young people in a complimentary way. A successful model must be one that links all aspects of the organization’s work to the children’s needs – in other words the whole organization must be congruent in the best interests of the child.

A Model will be underpinned by appropriate research informed theory, which will guide the approaches adopted in a practical way.

Because many of these children and young people need therapeutic daily care as well as specific therapies – every aspect of their daily life at home and school is a therapeutic opportunity. This means that we need a model of how needs will be met in all aspects of the child’s daily experience.

How we will work together

Patrick works in collaboration with the organization to produce a culturally sensitive model. It will be specifically designed to the needs of the children and young people within the organizational and cultural context. This enables the model to be developed in a way that is unique to the organization and children it works with. The organization will have its own model, informed by evidence from research and focused on outcomes.

An effective step by step process has been developed, which enables an efficient way of working with clear time scales. The work will be planned according to the organization’s resources and needs.

Models that Patrick has been involved in developing have been attachment and trauma-informed, and draw from the field of neuroscience as well as other disciplines.

Patrick’s Experience

Patrick Tomlinson leads this service and has over 25 years’ experience in developing services for traumatized children and young people. He has vast experience working at every level within organizations and since 2008 as an independent development specialist. He has worked with acclaimed organizations and helped develop therapeutic models that have gained national and international recognition.

Since 2010 Patrick has worked on Model Development projects in Australia, Ireland, Japan and UK.

Patrick’s work with the Lighthouse Foundation in Melbourne, Australia has been referred to in a new publication on best international practice in therapeutic residential care,

“In Australia, the most clearly articulated model of Therapeutic Residential Care is that offered by the Lighthouse Foundation (Ainsworth 2012; Barton, Gonzales and Tomlinson 2012) that owes much to the Cotswold Community in the UK.” (McNamara, 2015).

McNamara, P.M. (2015) A New Era in the Development of Therapeutic Child Care in the State of Victoria, in, Whittaker, J.K., del Valle, J.F. and Holmes, L. (2015) Therapeutic Residential Care for Children: Developing Evidence-Based International Practice, London and Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Benefits of Developing a Model

a) The development work in itself can be helpful in evaluating where the organization is at and agreeing the direction it should go in. This can be especially useful at key points in the organization’s growth.

b) The work involved will be a positive experience of team building and creating a shared vision, values and commitment.

c) A clearly articulated model clarifies the task and reduces confusion – leading to a higher level of congruence, with improved outcomes.

d) A high quality model should further consolidate the organization’s position – in terms of being a high calibre service provider, attracting referrals, funding and good quality staff.

e) A model creates a shared language and processes that can help integrate different professional disciplines.

f) The completed model is owned by the organization and can become a valuable part of its intellectual property.

g) With an established model, publishing papers, a book, holding a conference all help to establish the organization as a leading authority in the field. This may support a strategic plan of expansion and/or maintaining a niche position as a specialist service provider.

Client Testimonials

I have had the pleasure to work collaboratively with Patrick Tomlinson Associates for over 3 years. The key to the success of the work has been the way we have established a strong working relationship across international boundaries. Patrick has brought a variety of essential skills to the projects that we have worked on. He has demonstrated great knowledge and expertise, reliability, high quality work, and has always delivered on time. His service has been very productive and cost effective, due to his ability to systematically work through any potential challenges that would take a less evolved individual many additional months.

We have been providing therapeutic programs for traumatized children and young people at the Lighthouse Foundation for over 20 years. We are now in a position where we are ready to achieve our strategic aim of transferring our practice model to organisations across Australia and then internationally, thanks to the enormous contribution of Patrick Tomlinson.

Rudy Gonzalez
Executive Director, Lighthouse Institute, Melbourne, Australia

I have been leading a 3 year research project funded by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. We are researching worldwide, effective approaches in working with traumatized children in residential and foster care. I have consulted with Mr. Patrick Tomlinson for over 2 years by email and he has visited Japan in 2012 and 2013 to work on the project.

How Patrick has helped us in showing the definite way of therapeutic care and the way of thinking for traumatized children based on his experiences, which we have long been looking for!

In Japan most looked after children (90%) used to be placed in large institutions and 10% are in foster families. And it is just recently by the advice of United Nation the authorities start discussing to minimize the institutions to group homes and increasing foster families, but without any discussions on the therapeutic care for children. As a child psychiatrist working for the Welfare Section of Tokyo Metropolitan Government, I have long been engaged with emotionally disturbed children with child abuse, bullying, autistic disorders, various developmental disorders including ADHD, conduct and mental disorders of looked after children. We have tried to treat them in the residential sector and looked for helpful way for the children, but in vain.

Patrick Tomlinson is the very right person to understand quickly the situation and the problems of looked after children in Japan, visiting several children homes, talking with carers of children homes, foster parents, senior executives and professionals.

He is really an excellent lecturer listening to the audience’s questions and quickly understanding their needs. He has also prepared articles with more than 100 pages for the lectures and these translated materials help the audiences in their daily work very much. The survey taken from the audiences after his lectures has shown that 100% answered very satisfied and helpful. And they have commented they have never listened to such helpful lectures before. They say Patrick knows the reality of the carers, he is the champion of them. With Patrick’s help and stimulation we are going to make the design of the Model Center of therapeutic Professional Help for the carers of children homes and foster families. Hopefully, this will influence how services are provided throughout Japan.

Hisayo Kiahara, MD (Child Psychiatrist), Tokyo, Japan


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