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St Christopher’s use of attachment theory presented at academic conference

On Tuesday 9 April, researchers from the Lifespan Research Group at Kingston University presented their findings on how attachment theory is being used to positively affect the lives of young people living in St Christopher’s children’s homes.

Attachment theory looks at how children form a bond with their primary caregiver and the influence it has on emotional and social development. Using attachment theory with children and young people in care helps practitioners to understand problem behaviours and tailor the support to each child’s needs in order to have the best impact on outcomes.

The Lifespan Research Group has been working in partnership with St Christopher’s for more than eight years and together, introduced an attachment assessment framework into our work with young people in residential care.

Based in part upon this work, St Christopher’s, in collaboration with the research team, developed the Q Pack which is now being used across all residential and fostering services.

Senior Researcher, Catherine Jacobs recently presented the findings of work being carried out with young people living in St Christopher’s homes using Attachment Style Interviews (ASI) at the British Psychological Society’s annual conference in Harrogate. The findings covered our work with 58 young people in both the UK and Isle of Man homes and showed how, for the 11 follow ups researched so far, the positive changes that were being seen.

At the start, nearly all the young people had insecure attachment styles, with high rates of ‘angry-dismissive’ and ‘disorganised’ styles.  They also had high rates of behavioural and emotional disorder.  At follow up, there were reductions in both symptoms and scorings that assessed their insecurity levels.

Director of Operations, Ron Giddens said: “This research shows how important assessing attachment style is in supporting children in care. In the coming months, we will be sharing our findings of our work with the Lifespan Research Group on ASI and Q Pack to help raise awareness of how innovative practice can have a positive impact on the lives of young people.  I’d like to thank Catherine Jacobs and Toni Bifulco from Kingston University and all staff who have been implementing the ASI and Q Pack, for their hard work and support.”

Senior Researcher, Catherine Jacobs said: “The Lifespan Research Group is very pleased to continue to work in partnership with St Christopher’s to provide high quality attachment interviews and questionnaires that influence care planning and provide a strong evidence base for positive change in looked after children.

“We look forward to presenting more follow-up outcomes alongside St Christopher’s at a workshop at the National Commissioning Conference in Derbyshire at the beginning of July 2013. The conference will be attended by commissioners and senior staff from Local Authorities across the UK and the Isle of Man Government.”