Many referrals to our mental health of learning disability service focus on concerns about behaviours that present risks to the referred person and to those around them, including support workers. If the referred person has good verbal ability, psychological therapy may be requested and offered, but the person may find it too difficult to engage for a number of reasons. Even when they do engage in therapy, the authors recognise the importance of helping staff better understand their attachment needs. This paper aims to demonstrate an innovative approach to helping staff provide Trauma-Informed Care (TIC).
The authors developed a training programme for support workers using psychodynamic concepts, such as splitting, transference and counter-transference, to help them develop insight into the processes that get enacted during their work. In this paper the authors have generally used the term “care staff”, recognising that an important aspect of the role of those staff is to provide care within an attachment framework; as well as support to maximise independence.
The feedback from staff who have attended has been very positive, both at the time and later. Staff who have attended have talked to multidisciplinary colleagues about the impact their learning has had on their ability to work with service users who present great challenges, in the context of their trauma histories.
The importance of providing TIC is gaining traction across varied settings. The authors are in the process of developing both qualitative and quantitative research programmes to evaluate this approach to increasing TIC for adults with learning disabilities, reducing staff burn out and placement breakdown.
The authors thank Anna Bodicoat, Rebecca Cassidy, Caitlin Chalmers, Amalia Gasson, Lyndsey Hurcomb, Francesca Herve, Arti Makwana, Stacey Rand and the many other colleagues and support workers who have helped them develop this trauma-informed training. The work was completed within our roles as NHS employees.
Rye, E., Anderson, J. and Pickard, M. (2021), "Developing trauma-informed care: using psychodynamic concepts to help staff respond to the attachment needs of survivors of trauma", Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities, Vol. 15 No. 5, pp. 201-208. https://doi.org/10.1108/AMHID-12-2020-0033
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