Six Session Course: Foster Carer Therapeutic Parenting for Traumatised Children

Delivered by

Christina Enright


Format options


Duration options

6 x 3 hour workshops


This training can be modified for practitioners and professionals, and further bespoke elements can be added on request.

Content Summary Per Session:


Session One: Attachment and Trauma Overview

As a result of completing this training Foster Carers/Adoptive Parents can learn about:

  • ‘The Window of Tolerance’ – how early protection, safety and care shapes the wiring up of a baby and child’s nervous system influencing the regulation of both physiological (body) and emotional arousal
  • What is primary maternal/paternal preoccupation and why is it important?
  • What the circle of security is and why it is important for a young child’s healthy development
  • How Developmental Trauma creates fear and defensiveness in a child/adolescent’s nervous system and influences their behaviour
  • How early Developmental Trauma through a lack of protection, safety and care, influence the cognitive, emotional, and social development of a child
  • How Developmental Trauma influences the perception of a child, creating distortions in relation to themselves as well as the adults and the world around them
  • In the event of Developmental Trauma, why there is a gap between a child’s chronological age and their social/emotional age
  • Child-parent attachment and how it interacts with Trauma
  • Different attachment strategies and how they develop
  • How attachment strategies affect a child’s behaviour particularly around seeking protection and care


Session Two: The Importance of Emotional Attunement to Build Connected Relationship

As a result of completing this training Foster Carers can learn about:

  • The importance of responding to the child’s developmental age rather than chronological age
  • What emotional attunement is and why is it important for traumatised children
  • What is contingent responding and how does it relate to helping a child to feel accepted and understood?
  • Why it may be challenging to building an emotional connection with a child who has experienced hurt and betrayal
  • The importance of therapeutic parenting and being mind-minded in responding to and building trust with children who have been hurt, let down and even abused, particularly in relation to challenging behaviour
  • Introduction to Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP) Principles


Session Three:  How to Care for Children with a Defective Signalling System and help them to Build Trust and Accept Care

As a result of completing this training Foster Carers can learn about:

  • Understanding the child’s internal model of relationships and how this will likely differ from the Foster Carers and other typically developing children
  • what is blocked trust/epistemic mistrust is and how it develops
  • About miscuing and hiding- how children learn to hide needs or overly amplify needs as learned dysfunctional ways of signalling a need for care and attempts to survive and get needs met
  • What are indicators of miscuing and hiding
  • How toxic shame impacts on a child’s sense of self and behaviour
  • How to respond to help a child who has learned to protect themselves through hiding and miscuing, to express their needs in healthier ways
  • Rupture and repair and how it can help build a child’s resilience


Session Four: All Behaviour is Communication – Supporting Children to Learn to Regulate their Bodies, Emotions and Behaviour 

As a result of completing this training Foster Carers can learn about:

  • How traditional behaviour management approaches for children who have experienced Developmental Trauma are inadequate, often ineffective and may even be harmful
  • Setting and holding boundaries with calm and kindness with children who resist
  • Different parenting styles in response to children’s emotions and behaviour
  • Nervous system arousal – the window of tolerance – bringing children back into balance using Dan Hughes’s Parenting with PACE
  • The impact of shame on a child’s capacity to learn from experience
  • The importance of connection before correction to build and maintain trust and to help children to learn from correction
  • Responses to challenging behaviour that enable a child to learn to self-reflect/mentalize rather than becoming or responding defensively
  • Sensory regulation strategies to help children to be in an engaged, alert and calm state


Session Five: Understanding Our Own Attachment History

As a result of completing this training Foster Carers can learn about:

  • How thinking about and holding in mind our strengths and resources is imperative for our emotional and psychological resilience
  • How our brain, minds and bodies influence our triggers of emotion and  behaviour and subsequent responses to the child
  • The importance of understanding our past relationships and attachment history and how they may influence our experience of caring for traumatised children – how our own attachment experiences may be triggered by the child’s
  • The importance of having a coherent narrative of our own experiences of trauma and loss- building a genogram to reflection on own family of origin


Session Six: Blocked Care and Self-Care

As a result of completing this training Foster Carers can learn about:

  • How our strengths and vulnerabilities impact on us as parents
  • How our thoughts and beliefs influence our feelings and behaviour and can make us feel like we are failing as parents/carers
  • How the development of our parenting brain influences our responses to stress as well as tendency towards psychological safety or defensiveness
  • What is blocked care and how does it affect our parenting capacity?
  • How does secondary trauma relate to blocked care and how can we prevent it?
  • Exploring and understanding our own stress patterns and sensory regulation in the face of everyday challenges
  • Moving from defensive to open and engaged in relationships to help engender trust in a traumatised child
  • The importance of self-care to maintain resilience/beginning our own self-care plans
  • Energy medicine – self-calming strategies that can help


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Training delivered by

Christina Enright

RN, BSc Psychology, Dip in Family Therapy, MA Child Psychotherapy, Dip Clinical Supervision.

Over the past 17 years, Christina has worked as a psychotherapist with children, adolescents, birth parents, foster carers and adoptive parents. This followed on from 20 years working as a nurse in the NHS. Her experience includes the development of a multidisciplinary clinical service for families experiencing trauma and attachment problems who were reluctant to engage with main-stream social care and mental health services. From 2015-2017 Christina provided trauma consultancy to the clinical team developing a children’s service within the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) in the UK.

She also delivers training on child development, trauma and attachment both within the NHS and other education and social care systems across the UK and Ireland.  Her special interest is in early childhood development and the impact of trauma on a child’s developing capacities, functioning and behaviour. From her experience working with children who have endured developmental trauma characterised by neglect and abuse, she has found it necessary to use a comprehensive integrated approach in order to address the multiple complexities which such children present with.

Christina returned to live in Ireland in 2016 and currently works as a Developmental Trauma and Attachment specialist providing training, assessment and clinical interventions on behalf of Tusla Child and Family Agency and in independent practice with birth and adoptive families.