This past Thursday in Montgomery, Alabama, the foster care and adoption community had the amazing opportunity to soak up the wisdom, experience, and research of renowned child-welfare advocates Sarah Naish and Sarah Dillon. Sarah Naish is the CEO and Founder of the National Association of Therapeutic Parents (NATP) According to the NATP website, Naish is an “Adopter and therapeutic parent. Author of best selling therapeutic parenting books for parents and children. MD of an indepentent training company. Former owner/MD of Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ therapeutic fostering agency. Former social worker. Commissioned and funded research into compassion fatigue in fostering with University of Bristol.”
Naish’s associate, Sarah Dillon whose bio includes “Therapist and accredited member of the British Association for Counsellors and Psychotherapists. Founding Committee Member of the National Association of Therapeutic Parents. Child and Adult Therapist for those with attachment difficulties, complex and developmental trauma. Foundations for Attachments and Nuturing Attachments Course Facilitator. EMDR Therapist. Developmental Trauma and Attachment Consultant for numerous independent Fostering Agencies, Schools and Local Authorities. Delivering Therapeutic Parenting training courses to Adoptive Parents, Foster Parents and Supporting Professionals Nationwide. Fostering Panel Chair. Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy Informed Practitioner. Accredited Trainer.
According to Dillon, her “background is that of a looked after child. I spent most of my childhood in the care system. Having had 4 foster placements and spending time in 4 children’s homes, I was finally placed with a foster parent who through exceptional patience, love and support enabled me to begin to value myself and recover from trauma. I have four children of my own and five grandchildren.”
Participants of the all-day conference in Montgomery were given a practical guide to therapeutic parenting. Naish and Dillon’s goals for the event was to “equip parents and supporting professionals with the skills and knowledge to understand why we need to therapeutically parent, children who hav suffered early life trauma and as a result have developmental trauma, attachment disorder, FASD, and other associated conditions.” Naish and Dillon do this in hopes of enabling parents and supporting professionals, “to implement and support practical therapeutic parenting behavior management strategies, when working with children with developmental trauma.”
Much of the training centered around understanding how a child’s brain develops differently when exposed to early trauma. Cortisol levels (the fight or flight hormone) are nearly unregulated in a child with developmental trauma. This leads to an inability of a child to process information in a much different manner. The training for the conference focused on how to approach behavior modification inc children with early trauma.
To our British friends who came for a visit … here is a big thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience. We hope your model of therapeutic parenting gains more and more traction in Alabama!