Essential-Elements-Research-Brief-Hero-image-2

The evidence base for therapeutic group care: A systematic scoping review – Research brief

Download PDF

The NSW Government has undertaken major reforms over the past two years aimed at improving outcomes for children and young people in out-of-home care. Following a review by Verso Consulting of its residential care services (2016), it has implemented a new system of Intensive Therapeutic Care (ITC) for young people with high and complex needs. The ITC system delivers a range of intensive therapeutic care options for children and young people including assessment units, therapeutic rostered care homes, therapeutic sibling placements, therapeutic supported independent living programs, and therapeutic homebased care.

To support the effective roll out of the ITC system, Family and Community Services NSW have funded the establishment of a Centre for Excellence in Therapeutic Care (CETC). The CETC is run by the Australian Childhood Foundation in partnership with Southern Cross University.

This report is the first of a series that aims to describe the current state of knowledge in relation to key elements of the ITC system. This report has as its major focus a review of the literature about therapeutic care for children and young people in small congregate care environments. This is the starting point for future research and knowledge generation.

The contents and findings will be disseminated to those working in the ITC system as the basis for strengthening practice in the care and case management of young people accepted into it.

You may be interested in: Therapeutic care Trauma-informed care

An emerging paradigm - Welcome to our new therapeutic care blog
An emerging paradigm - Welcome to our new therapeutic care blog Written by: Janise Mitchell
Over the past two decades, the term therapeutic care has emerged as a new paradigm used to integrate constructs that had traditionally been considered separate – therapeutic processes and the...
Read more
Creating positive social climates and home-like environments in therapeutic care - Practice guide
Creating positive social climates and home-like environments in therapeutic care - Practice guide Written by: Janise Mitchell
This guide has been developed to support the implementation of Essential Element: Physical Environments from the Ten Essential Elements of Therapeutic Care. It explores how to create therapeutic care contexts...
Read more
What is effective therapeutic care? Research brief
What is effective therapeutic care? Research brief Written by: Lynne McPherson Kathomi Gatwiri Nadine Cameron Natalie Parmenter
This research briefing is an introduction to therapeutic care as a preferred response for children and young people who have experienced complex trauma and are unable to live at home....
Read more
Putting theory into practice
Putting theory into practice Written by: Noel MacNamara
Sometimes you might wonder why you need to learn about theory. I have heard people say: Residential work with young people is often conducted amidst high anxiety, uncertainty and emotion....
Read more
The role of emotions in therapeutic care
The role of emotions in therapeutic care Written by: Noel MacNamara
The role of emotions within human service work may at first glance appear to be intuitively obvious and incontestable. Indeed, Howe (2008) described the day of a human service worker...
Read more
The needs of LGBTIQ young people in out-of-home care - Research brief
The needs of LGBTIQ young people in out-of-home care - Research brief Written by: Nadine Cameron Lynne McPherson Kathomi Gatwiri Natalie Parmenter
Young people who are same sex attracted, trans or gender diverse – a population who will be referred to in this document as LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and...
Read more
Safety from the outside to the inside
Safety from the outside to the inside Written by: Noel MacNamara
At the recent Therapeutic Specialist’s forum, there was lots of discussion about the concept of physical and relational safety in Intensive Therapeutic Care (ITC). We all agreed that it is...
Read more
Understanding and supporting young people who self-harm in residential care
Understanding and supporting young people who self-harm in residential care Written by: Noel MacNamara
Some of the young people we care for in the ITC programs deal with emotional distress and pain by hurting themselves physically. Young people hurting themselves is distressing to them...
Read more
The role of praise in working with young people
The role of praise in working with young people Written by: Noel MacNamara
We can see each of our daily interactions with each of the young people we care for as bids for connection.  By choosing to turn toward, to turn away, or...
Read more
What are the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in care? Research brief
What are the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in care? Research brief Written by: Kathomi Gatwiri Lynne McPherson Nadine Cameron Natalie Parmenter
Indigenous children and young people face unique challenges in the child welfare system. The dimensions of this problem are complex and multifaceted. Providing culturally safe and traumainformed therapeutic care to...
Read more
The healing power of friendship
The healing power of friendship Written by: Noel MacNamara
Can the friendships and connections that can develop in Intensive Residential Care be nurtured and grown rather than feared? I would like you to take a moment to think back...
Read more
Preventing self-harm among young people in out-of-home care - Research brief
Preventing self-harm among young people in out-of-home care - Research brief Written by: Nadine Cameron Lynne McPherson Kathomi Gatwiri Noel MacNamara Natalie Parmenter
Many young people in out-of-home care are at an elevated risk of self-harm and suicidality. The reasons range from early exposure to abuse, disconnection from family, instability of their living...
Read more
‘Tis the Season to be Jolly’ – but not for everyone
‘Tis the Season to be Jolly’ – but not for everyone Written by: Noel MacNamara
It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in the fun and happiness of Christmas and forget that, for others, the season isn’t necessarily a joyful one. For some the...
Read more
The 10 essential elements of Intensive Therapeutic Care NSW - Practice guide
The 10 essential elements of Intensive Therapeutic Care NSW - Practice guide Written by: Janise Mitchell
This guide has been developed to describe the 10 Essential Elements that form the basis for Intensive Therapeutic Care (ITC) service provision in NSW. The 10 Essential Elements have been...
Read more
The essential elements of therapeutic foster care - Research brief
The essential elements of therapeutic foster care - Research brief Written by: Janise Mitchell Lynne McPherson Kathomi Gatwiri Nadine Cameron Natalie Parmenter Joe Tucci
As far back as 2002 in the creation of the Catalyst Program, Mitchell developed what was Australia’s first therapeutic foster care program and one of a handful of pioneering programs...
Read more
Vicarious trauma and secondary stress in therapeutic residential care - Research brief
Vicarious trauma and secondary stress in therapeutic residential care - Research brief Written by: Lynne McPherson Kathomi Gatwiri Natalie Parmenter
It is generally accepted that child welfare professionals are at high risk of experiencing vicarious trauma: the manifestation of traumatic symptoms resulting from working with individuals who, themselves, have encountered...
Read more
What works? Promising practices to support young people who self-harm
What works? Promising practices to support young people who self-harm Written by: Kelly Royds
Why do young people in out of home care self-harm? What are the best predictors of suicide and self-harm? What really works when supporting young people who self-harm in out-of-home...
Read more
Q&A with Cate Keady from the Elver Program
Q&A with Cate Keady from the Elver Program Written by: Kelly Royds
Since 2018, Cate Keady has worked within the Department of Communities and Justice to establish and manage the Intensive Support Services Elver Program - in partnership with South Western Sydney...
Read more
A story you may recognise
A story you may recognise Written by: Noel MacNamara
Peta had worked in residential care for 18 months. She took the position because she had had a difficult childhood and she felt that she had a lot to offer...
Read more
How do you prepare for the transitioning of young people into an Intensive Therapeutic Care house? Part 2
How do you prepare for the transitioning of young people into an Intensive Therapeutic Care house? Part 2 Written by: Peter Le Breton
In the first part of the Blog, we explored limit and expectation setting, maintaining a state of occupancy and the planning process for a successful transition. In part two of...
Read more
How do you prepare for the transitioning of young people into an Intensive Therapeutic Care house? Part 1
How do you prepare for the transitioning of young people into an Intensive Therapeutic Care house? Part 1 Written by: Peter Le Breton
This is a two-part blog and will focus on the transition of young people into an Intensive Therapeutic Care house; however, most of the content is transferrable to other placement...
Read more
Changing your practice to being trauma informed in therapeutic residential care
Changing your practice to being trauma informed in therapeutic residential care Written by: Glenys Bristow Noel MacNamara
Whilst the following Arabian proverb takes a bit to get your head around it leads rather nicely into this blog and our brief introduction on the relevance of the conscious...
Read more
How to thrive in lock down, lean into what works in therapeutic care
How to thrive in lock down, lean into what works in therapeutic care Written by: Kelly Royds Noel MacNamara
Lockdown means we lose touch with many things: friends, family, freedom. For young people, therapeutic youth workers and other staff in Intensive Therapeutic Care, however, it also offers an opportunity...
Read more
Supporting children in out-of-home care to cope with ambiguous loss
Supporting children in out-of-home care to cope with ambiguous loss Written by: Kenny Kor Jodie Park
When you think of grief and loss, what comes to your mind? You may think of the immense sorrow one may experience. For some of us, we can seek solace...
Read more
Client mix and client matching in therapeutic care - Practice guide
Client mix and client matching in therapeutic care - Practice guide Written by: Janise Mitchell Kelly Royds Noel MacNamara Glenys Bristow
Client mix and the process of client matching is one of the 10 Essential Elements underpinning the Intensive Therapeutic Care (ITC) system in New South Wales. This guide has been...
Read more
Trauma-informed care - Research brief
Trauma-informed care - Research brief
This research briefing aims to define and clarify what trauma, complex trauma and trauma informed care are. Extensive literature has now surmised that exposure to adverse experiences such as child...
Read more
Trauma-informed relationship based recovery reflection tool
Trauma-informed relationship based recovery reflection tool
“Childhood trauma has the potential to interrupt the normal physical, physiological, emotional, mental and intellectual development, of children and can have wide-ranging, and often life-long implications for their health and...
Read more
Strengthening connections & relationships project
Strengthening connections & relationships project Written by: Lynne McPherson
What is this research about? Young people in residential care face major challenges that can prevent them from forming healthy relationships and a strong personal identity, which are critical building...
Read more
Secondary traumatic stress and staff well-being: understanding compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma and burnout in therapeutic care - Practice guide
Secondary traumatic stress and staff well-being: understanding compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma and burnout in therapeutic care - Practice guide Written by: Noel MacNamara
This guide has been developed to support organisational congruence and in the provision of trauma informed therapeutic care and the critical need for a well-supported, capable, and stable staff group...
Read more
Frequently asked questions by foster carers: Behaviours that challenge
Frequently asked questions by foster carers: Behaviours that challenge Written by: Noel MacNamara
On any given night there are about 18000 children and young people are in foster care in Australia. Most foster carers will be the first to tell you how rewarding...
Read more
What Was I Thinking? Handling the Amygdala Hijack
What Was I Thinking? Handling the Amygdala Hijack Written by: Noel MacNamara
Remember that time when you put the child you care for back to bed for the fourth time? Your thoughts suggested a level of desperation and wishful thinking, hoping that...
Read more
12 ways foster and kinship carers can promote compassion and self-compassion in children and young people
12 ways foster and kinship carers can promote compassion and self-compassion in children and young people Written by: Noel MacNamara
What are Compassion and Self-Compassion?Compassion is the ability to feel and connect with the suffering of another human being, self-compassion is the ability to feel and connect with one’s own...
Read more