At Balnacraig we believe that nurturing and attuned experiences promote opportunities for growth and development for our people. The basis for our approach is heavily grounded in our understanding of attachment and developmental trauma.  We recognise that early experiences have a significant impact upon development, and nurturing care is a powerful therapeutic experience in itself providing the basis for further development.

The work of Kim Golding, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Dan Hughes provide the basis of our cultural framework, one that informs not just practice but, hopefully, everyone’s experience of living and working at Balnacraig.  Adapting Kim Golding’s Pyramid of Care (2007) has informed what therapeutic practices are important in achieving this objective.

Our vision is that we work towards these objectives to ensure the best possible therapeutic care is offered at Balnacraig.  As such, feeling safe at Balnacraig, building trusted relationships, feeling adequately supported to express difficult feelings, feeling understood and building resilience are key components that make the culture at Balnacraig a therapeutic one.

Practices supporting the cultural framework include

Developing physical and emotional safety and meeting basic needs:

  • Each young person has their own bedroom that they are involved in decorating
  • The young person’s bedroom is their safe space.
  • Each young person is welcomed and claimed daily through meaningful interactions with adults.
  • Each young person is allocated a keyteam in care and education
  • A sense of belonging is promoted through group mealtimes, photos throughout the building of experiences, activities, whole school events
  • Structure and predictability are key components to support emotional safety
  • Clear expectations are in place for each young person
  • Basic needs, such as diet and sleep are routinely monitored

Building Trusted Meaningful Relationships

  • The team are encouraged to build positive working relationships with each other, through team days, events, group work to model positive interactions and promote a sense of wellbeing at work
  • The team are introduced to and encouraged to work towards “attuned” practice, where they are sensitive to the needs of the young person and capable of repairing or re-attuning when necessary
  • Teams work hard to establish meaningful relationships with social workers, family members and the wider system
  • Adults work to apply PACE, Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy
  • Young people are supported to build positive relationships with adults. Adults listen, they provide opportunities for young people to talk with them and the clinical psychologist offers informal drop-ins for all.

Supporting Emotional Expression and Containment

  • Developing self awareness within teams through training and supervision
  • Fortnightly reflective practice facilitated by Clinical Psychologist available to all staff
  • Understanding emotional development and developing appropriate expectations of our young people’s capacity to manage their own emotions
  • Individual plans developed with young person to support the safe expression of their emotions and how adults will help at these times
  • 1-1 time with adults offered regularly.

Understanding ourselves in relation to others

  • Fortnightly reflective practice facilitated by Clinical Psychologist available to all staff
  • Understanding young people and the behaviours they present, through consultation, supervision and training
  • Training in pro-social skills for teams
  • Supporting the development of social skills / empathy, through modelling, opportunities for small group work, promoting positive peer relationships
  • Developing individualised plans to support pro-social behaviour

Developing Resilience

  • Encouraging positive experiences and achievements for all at Balnacraig
  • Supporting individualised education programmes to meet the developmental needs of our young people
  • Working to sustain relationships
  • Encouraging links with the community
  • Encouraging young people to use their voice and take responsibility, for example, taking calculated risks to allow young people to explore their world safely, offering opportunities and incentives around daily living skills

Dr Shona Quin, Clinical Psychologist