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Archive: News

Early life trauma needs to be considered for therapeutic interventions to be effective

Family Futures’ Response to BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme coverage of ‘Callous Unemotional Traits’ 14 September 2017

Family Futures were disappointed that the case of an adopted boy was used to highlight the piece on ‘callous, unemotional’ traits on the Today programme this morning. In our experience this type of presentation in adopted and looked after children is often as a result of in utero and early infancy trauma that shapes the child’s developing brain and nervous system. This leads to highly defensive and hard wired neuro physiological and psychological responses. The majority of children placed for adoption today have come from abusive and traumatic backgrounds and this has shaped their experience of the world and their behaviour.

Traditional therapeutic interventions are not effective with this population of children. Specialist, holistic approaches based on biopsychosocial formulations are better suited to encourage the child to feel safe in the world and to develop their capacity to openly engage in reciprocal relationships with others. This bringing together of information about the interaction of biological factors, psychological factors and social factors is the approach needed for these children.

That Max’s early life experience was not considered runs a real risk of our society’s most vulnerable adopted and looked after children being pathologised and seen as inherently flawed, when in fact we need to acknowledge and address their developmental trauma early on if we cannot prevent it happening in the first instance. This means the government ensuring appropriate therapeutic interventions are available to such children and families. As in the case of Max, Family Futures often see children who other therapists have said that they cannot help, but with the right approach, significant changes can be made.

Creative Therapies for Complex Trauma

Book launch and seminar

We would like to invite you to a free seminar (see programme below) to celebrate the publication of Creative Therapies for Complex Trauma: helping children and families in foster care, kinship care or adoption, edited by Anthea Hendry and Joy Hasler, to which Family Futures staff have contributed 2 chapters. The book provides a very positive account of how creative therapies are a vital component for treating complex trauma. Though designed to inform professionals, Adoption Today’s reviewers said it would be a useful reference book for parents wanting to explore this therapeutic approach.

The seminar will take place on 16 September, 1-4pm at Family Futures, Floral Place, 7-9 Northampton Grove, London N1 2PL

To book your place please email

Seminar Programme –  London
1.00 Arrival Tea/coffee

1.30 Welcome and overview by Anthea Hendry Art Psychotherapist

1.45 Presentations by Franca Brenninkmeyer Head of Family Services PAC-UK

Alan Burnell and Jay Vaughan Co Directors of Family Futures CIC

2.30 Tea/coffee/cake/social/book signing

3.00 Presentations by Joy Hasler Director of Catchpoint

‘Voices of Experience’ views from those with experience of Creative Therapies

3.45 Questions

4.00 End

Adoption Support Fund Evaluation Report, August 2017

Reflections on the Report by Alan Burnell, Registered Manager

This report presents a very positive picture of the impact of the Adoption Support Fund. It is interesting that almost the greatest impact was on parents who felt that their experience of parenting adopted children was being validated and recognised. The ASF has given parents hope and optimism for the future. Regarding its impact on adopted children, the report was more circumspect concluding that there was a ‘modest’ positive impact on their behaviour and wellbeing. This is not surprising from our experience as limited and short-term interventions do not always address the long-term consequences of infant trauma and significant harm. There is a danger that policy and decision makers reading this report will mistake palliative intervention for curative therapy with the ASF’s emphasis on fair access.

Adoptees’ views

In conversation with adoptees Alex and Julia

In this new podcast, Alex (18) & Julia (22) who were adopted as babies, give their personal viewpoints on complex families, their own struggles, other people’s attitudes, getting support and their hopes for the future.

Trauma can’t easily take a holiday

If you are going on holiday with a child who has experienced developmental trauma it means extra planning and different expectations.

There are lots of useful suggestions here in Jane Evans’ article.

Moving Foster Placements – Scott’s story

15 year old Scott’s blog highlights how complex, painful and often neglected by social workers and others the process of transition can be

For a long time Family Futures have recognised the importance of managing transitions well, not just as a logistical exercise but as a therapeutic opportunity. During transitions, children need people around them who can help them to express their feelings of loss, abandonment, fear and anger. Our course Helping Fostered Children Transition to a New Family encourages parents and professionals to think through key issues around transitions in order to offer more support for a child through this period.

Current job opportunities

We recruit people who have a passion for working with people and are experts in what they do.

At Family Futures our staff are our best asset. We are a small, not-for-profit organisation but our work has a huge impact on the lives of the children and families we work with. We look for people who want to be part of a service that is innovative, creative and constantly striving to do better.

Recognising our staff give their best, we offer great employee benefits, an inquiring learning culture and a strong sense of togetherness. We are currently recruiting

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A moderniser of Children’s Services

Children’s Minister, Edward Timpson loses his seat

We are sorry to see Edward Timpson lose his seat and therefore no longer be Children’s Minister. He was a passionate and devoted moderniser of Children’s Services who has been able to offer a consistent lead to the Department of Education. He has paved the way for post adoption support by introducing the Post Adoption Support Fund and therefore sustaining adoption as a viable permanency option for children in the care system.


Family Futures — one of the UK centres for Theraplay training with a qualified UK-based lead trainer

Family Futures is now one of the UK centres for Theraplay training with a qualified UK-based lead trainer, co trainer and assistant, who taught our first course last week.

Originally developed in the US to help parents and carers in caring for children and improve attachment formation, Theraplay has taken the UK by storm in recent years. It’s now used by frontline professionals working with children, including social workers and therapists, across the country.

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Children who experience trauma can display social, emotional and cognitive problems during their lives

“Many young children adopted from Romanian orphanages by UK families in the early 90s are still experiencing mental health problems even in adulthood, researchers say”, says an article on the BBC.

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