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Hope for adoptive families

Posted in: News

Evaluation of Family Futures’ therapeutic approach reveals positive findings

Improvements in behaviour regulation, emotional difficulties, and parent and child relationships are some of the key outcomes of an integrated, multidisciplinary therapy programme, as highlighted by Family Futures’ latest research.

Family Futures has developed its Neuro-Physiological Psychotherapy (NPP) model over the course of the past 18 years to help adopted children who have experienced sustained trauma in their birth families. This approach combines high levels of work with parents, sensory integration, somatic experience, Theraplay, Dyadic Developmental Therapy, creative arts and therapeutic life story techniques, to address the damage of early developmental trauma. Together these approaches help to organise a child’s sense of themselves and their ways of managing the world and relationships.

The research* was published in print by Sage in the October special edition on adoption in the Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry Online after passing a rigorous peer review process.

Positive futures

The research also shows that the majority of the children who were followed up have remained in education, did not access mental health services and were not involved in the criminal justice system – which may be indicative of the long-term benefits of taking part in the Family Futures treatment programme**.

Susan Jones brought her two adopted children to Family Futures, as they were being violent and aggressive. Read Susan’s story.

A need for strong evidence

Dr Elaine McCullough, Principal Clinical Psychologist and Assessment Services Manager at Family Futures, says: “There is limited published research and evidence to show what is effective in the treatment of children who have experienced developmental trauma and who have been placed for adoption.

“We believe that the NPP model is the best way to begin to understand and therapeutically address the complex presentations of children who have experienced developmental trauma whilst living with their birth families. But a belief wasn’t enough for us. We wanted to ascertain whether there was good, quantifiable evidence to support the existing anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of the therapeutic services we provide.”

Follow up research with a control group

Family Futures has carried out further evaluation into the effectiveness of its work, by carrying out a controlled comparison of outcomes with families who received their assessment but, for a variety of reasons, did not go on to receive the treatment.

To find out more about the impact of our treatment programme, read case studies from two other families: Sarah and Tom Johnston, and Jane Houghton and Jonathan Walsh.

*We have published two research papers and our latest paper has been accepted for publication this year:

1) outlining our model, its development and application;

Neuro-Physiological Psychotherapy (NPP): The development and application of an integrative, wrap-around service and treatment programme for maltreated children placed in adoptive and foster care placements

and 2) an evaluation of the model’s efficacy

An evaluation of Neuro-Physiological Psychotherapy: An integrative therapeutic approach to working with adopted children who have experienced early life trauma

We evaluated 31 families who have received core components of the treatment model during their time at Family Futures. As part of this we asked them to complete the same psychological screening and projective tools that they completed during their assessment and engage in a parent/child relational task. We also interviewed them to gain a qualitative impression.

The third research paper has been accepted for publication and you can read about the results from our control group study here.

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