Earlier this year I set about revising and updating A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder. The second edition is available from December 2016. As part of the revision process I considered what we might mean when talking about therapeutic care of children. This is the CARE Model I came up with:
Be Consistent – Children develop and learn (including new ways of relating) best in a stable care environment where there is consistency in caregiver approach to the child’s care and management across caregivers and across time.
Be Accessible – Children benefit from an enriched experience that their carers are available to them. They learn this best when carers attend to them before the child has done anything to draw attention to themselves.
Be Responsive – Children benefit from an enriched experience that their inner world is understood and their needs will be responded to without them having to go to great lengths to make it so; either through behaviour that communicates internal states or inordinately demanding or deceptive behaviour to secure a response to basic needs (such as the need for attention, acceptance and physical sustenance). Communicating understanding of their inner world in words used by their caregiver and through proactive needs provision is vital for enriching the child’s experience and new learning about caregiver responsiveness.
Be Emotionally-Connected – Children benefit from the experience that their emotions are felt by their caregivers. Their experience of connection is enhanced and the foundations for empathy and self-regulation are promoted. Through their caregivers making an emotional connection with the child’s emotions and restoring calm themselves, the child will themselves be calmed, with the result that the child will to explore a range of emotions (thereby promoting emotional growth) and develop their own capacity for self-regulation of emotion.