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Meeting of minds Using the Tavistock model of child observation and reflective group work in the advanced training of foster carers

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Abstract:

The task for foster carers is complex and emotionally demanding on many levels. A crucial aspect of main tain ing a successful placement is that carers have developed the metacognitive skills for thinking about the foster child's mind, to mentalise and resist their own impulses to react 'unthinkingly' in the face of sometimes extreme provocation. Leslie Ironside describes a training for foster carers, rooted in clinical practice, which promotes this reflective state of mind. The effectiveness of this training is enhanced by group work and is therefore also efficient in the use of a child mental health clinician's time. This article describes the theoretical underpinning of the training and uses a case example to illustrate how experiential learning in a group can power fully bring the practical and psychological challenges of the fostering task into the reflective space. The cohesion and mutual trust within the group are shown to be of critical import ance for enabling personal exploration. The model is potentially replicable in any local area where there is the availability of suitably experienced child mental health professionals.

Keywords: EXPERIENTIAL GROUP EXPERIENCE; FOSTER CARERS; INFANT OBSERVATION; MENTALISATION; REFLECTIVE SPACE; TRAINING

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-06-01

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