Impact’s therapeutic residential program is set up to systematically address the core needs of a child who has experienced complex trauma. This model has emerged from a number of theoretical frameworks in both psychology and social work. In particular, we draw on the Attachment, Regulation, Competence model (ARC) and Community Engagement model for adolescent development as a guide for our practice system and philosophy.
It is essential for a complexly traumatised child to have a safe, predictable environment that will provide the foundation for their recovery and development of a positive identity.
It takes a carefully staged approach to help the child to develop the capacity to manage his/her emotions and regain their equilibrium when distressed. The child also needs positive, structured repetition so that s/he can start to progress through the developmental stages that have been disrupted during the chaotic and traumatic early years. This is true for the many other ‘competencies for survival’ that s/he will need to acquire in order to move towards self reliance.
The ‘community’ strand of the therapeutic program is designed to strengthen the protective factors in each child’s life. These supports and social connections help to minimise the long term harm that may be caused by their experiences of displacement and complex trauma.
The Impact therapeutic treatment approach aims to build each child’s resilience. It reflects the findings of the white paper from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network Complex Trauma Task Force.
The brain altered in destructive ways by trauma and neglect can also be altered in reparative, healing ways. Exposing the child, over and over again, to developmentally appropriate experiences is the key.
With adequate repetition, this therapeutic healing process will influence those parts of the brain altered by developmental trauma. Unfortunately, most of our therapeutic efforts fall short of this.
Maltreatment and the Developing Child,
Centre for Children and Families in the Justice System,
London, Canada, 2005