Child Protection Intervention

Intensive in-home therapy to support placements and families

  • Preventing placement breakdowns, stabilising young people and repairing attachments
  • Supporting complex reunifications and transitions out of intensive models of care
  • Outreach support for disengaged high-risk young people

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Clinical Consultancy Services

  • Complex case-clinics
  • External Clinical Supervision (Individual and Group)
  • Framework Development

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  • Complex Trauma and Attachment in Children: Providing Therapeutic Care
  • Understanding and Responding to Violent and Controlling behaviours in children
  • Collaborative Problem Solving

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A young mother holds her baby daughter in a joyful embrace.


Intensive in-home therapy to support placements and families

What does a Complex Care intervention involve?

Our in-home therapy services typically involve providing a minimum of 5 hours of support per week to the family or placement. All of our packages of support involve one of our consultant family therapists working intensively with both the child and their care-givers (where ever possible), while also functioning as a central communication point and therapeutic guide for the stakeholder group throughout the intervention period. The primary goals of our interventions are to reduce stress and increase stability, repair fractured relationships, and build new skills in the child and their care-givers that support health developmental attachment and co-regulation.

Our work with children and adolescents

The support we provide to young people commences with establishing safety and connection through engaging them in non-intrusive, fun activities in the home and out in the community. With the foundation of this relationship, our therapists then begin to gently increase the young person’s awareness of their inner world, using psychoeducation tools to help their sense of shame and make sense of their responses, and a range of counselling/expressive modalities to help them recognise the links between their emotional experience and their behavioural responses. We then engage the young person in evidenced based approaches that build their capacity to self-regulate (monitor, modify and express emotional states), experience empathy (attune, mirror and resonate with the emotional state of others) and promote a range of other cognitive skills required to comply with general social expectations (working memory, cognitive flexibility, language processing and social skills).

Our work with parents, carers and residential teams

Our brain-based approach to family intervention, involves applying the same principles of neuroscience we use with children, to our work with the adults who care for them. So the support we provide to care-givers commences in a similar way to our work with young people in that we place a strong emphasis on ‘connection’ before ‘correction’.

We recognise that the parents we support have usually also suffered the impacts of intergenerational trauma or other disruptions to their own development and the carers/residential workers we support are under incredible stress and are often frequently exposed to violence and threats to their physical safety, resistant or intense controlling behaviours from young people, vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue (through exposure to child trauma histories, disclosures and child’s ongoing engagement in harmful activities or relationships), and frequent situations where they are required to manage the safety of a young person engaging in extremely high-risk behaviours.

For this reason our work with care-givers always starts with hearing their individual story and validating their experiences. We believe providing them with empathy, and a sense of being understood and cared about, needs to occur before we attempt to bring their attention to the experiences of the child. Once we have established a connection, we begin to focus on reducing immediate stress on the family, repairing relationships and engaging the care-giver in our Complex Care psycho-education program.

The 12 week psycho-education program is designed to promote increased self-awareness in the care-giver, while supporting them to depersonalise the child’s behaviours. Through exploring the neurobiology of trauma and attachment, it allows care-givers to reframe the child’s reactive responses and poor self-regulation as hard-wired survival brain circuits developed under conditions of overwhelming threat. The care-givers are also taught to view the child’s attempts to avoid or control them, as resulting from the child’s early developmental experiences of having unavailable, inconsistent or frightening caregivers.

Once the care-giver is able to view emotional regulation and empathy as skills, they are equipped by our therapists with strategies that support the child’s capacity to - monitor, modify and express their emotional experience; and to begin to integrate and resonate with the needs and emotional experiences of others (build empathy).

Once the carer and young person have both established strong connections with our therapist, we can begin to engage them in dyadic psychotherapy (bringing the care-giver and child together in the session) using Dan Hughes PACE model as a way to explore issues, provide nurturing early developmental experiences with the ultimate goal of creating a healthy attachment.

For an overview of Therapeutic Services (Generic Terms of Reference) Click Here

Overview of Therapeutic Services

Overview of Therapeutic Services

Below is an overview of the services that Complex Care currently provides to children on departmental orders:

Counselling services for Children and Young People

  • Structured sessions set in environments that are comfortable, fun and conducive to the development of quality therapeutic relationships
  • Sessions may incorporate solution-focused and narrative counselling, expressive modalities and psycho-education around the impact of trauma on functioning
  • Sessions incorporate activities that enhance a young person’s self-esteem, social functioning, capacity to self-regulate and promotes the development of positive support networks
  • Provide holistic assessments of young people’s therapeutic care and placement needs
  • Therapeutic support is tailored towards increasing placement stability

Carer and Family Support Services

  • Intensive in-home support that promotes placement stability
  • Provide training, practical support and counselling to carers and families
  • Assist carers/parents to reframe children’s behaviours in the context of complex trauma, attachment, disabilities and grief/loss
  • Provide carers/parents with therapeutic behaviour support strategies that facilitate positive developmental attachment and enhance a child’s capacity to self-regulate
  • Provide carers/parents with training in Collaborative Problem Solving, to reduce explosive episodes and teach children lagging cognitive skills
  • Provide carers/parents with evidence-based strategies for working with specific complex behaviours
  • Assist carers/parents/Department with the development of comprehensive risk management plans
  • Provide Parental Capacity and Psychological Assessments

Transition Support

  • Develop and negotiate individually tailored specialist foster care support packages for young people with complex emotional and behavioural needs
  • Support the transition of young people from Residential Care into Family Based Placements (including reunification)
  • Support the transition of young people into Independent living (transition from care)
  • Support the transition of young people from Youth Detention back into the community

Youth-work Support

Our team of highly qualified and experienced Youth Workers are provided with the same Trauma and Attachment training and framework adopted by our consultants, and receive ongoing case-guidance and clinical supervision. If required, Youth Workers can work closely with our consultants to enhance existing services, or work independently to meet the needs of children/young people who may not require the same level of intensive support. Details about combination consultancy/youth-work support packages are provided below.

Support Packages

In October 2012 Complex Care commenced providing combined youth-work and consultant therapist packages, specifically to support the transition of high risk young people from residential care packages back into family based placements. Through these cost-effective combination packages engaging the support of both consultant therapists and youth-workers, we can ensure that families/placements are still provided with intensive in home counselling and training in therapeutic care, whilst at the same time provided with increased levels of in-home support from our highly qualified and professional youth-workers operating under the guidance and coordination of the assigned consultant therapist. These packages aim to bridge the gap in the current continuum of services and are specifically tailored to the needs of children/young people who are:

  • Transitioning from residential care (including TP packages) back into a family based placement
  • At risk of entering out of home care
  • Requiring periodic in school-support to maintain the placement (two of our youth-workers are qualified teachers with a background in working with special needs young people).
These packages have typically involved the following support:
  • Counselling provided to assist the young person through the transition, improve family relationships/support healthy attachment, and to proactively respond to emerging issues
  • Intensive youth-work support provided to the young person/s to improve social engagement, provide family with day respite and in-school support (provided by youth-workers with teaching qualifications).
  • Case-coordination provided by Complex Care therapist in consultation with Department of Child Safety, Evolve and other stakeholders, ensuring a consistent and shared approach to supporting the family from all parties involved.

Clinical Consultancy Services

Case Clinics

  • Facilitate clinics with residential teams/stakeholder groups working with high-risk/challenging behaviours
  • Support participants to reflect on the young person’s history and underlying needs/stressors and reframe their behaviour within the context of complex trauma, disrupted/disorganised attachment, disability and grief/loss
  • Provide evidence-based strategies to address specific complex needs and behaviours (including violent, risk-taking, controlling, sexual or self-harming behaviours)
  • Facilitate development of action plan in response to identified needs and provide comprehensive write-up of issues/themes explored and agreed actions/strategies, incorporating both risk-management and holistic care planning
  • Options to provide ongoing case-mentoring and group supervision


External Clinical Supervision (Individual and Group)

Reflective supervision, career mentoring and crisis debriefing.


Framework Development

  • Support organisations to better articulate and link their existing therapeutic processes to contemporary research.
  • Provide organisations with practical evidence-based therapeutic care processes and support the organisation to embed in to front-line practice.
  • Support the organisation to build resilience and mitigate the risk of complex trauma symptoms being replicated within the organisation’s staff and system (parallel processes).


Assessments - Parenting Capacity Assessments, Psychological Assessments and Cognitive Assessments  

  • Complex Care Psychologists are able to provide a range of Psychological Assessments to inform and support Departmental decision-making.
  • Parenting Capacity and Psychological Assessments – typically involve a review of relevant Departmental files, interviews with the parent and other relevant collateral sources (Departmental workers, other family members, etc.) observations of parent-child interactions, and for psychological assessments we also employ a range of psychometric tests. This information is integrated to provide a clear assessment of a parent or carer’s:
  • Strengths and areas of vulnerability
  • Capacity to safely parent children and act protectively;
  • Relationship/attachment with each child, and assess the parent/carer’s capacity to reliably and predictably respond to their children’s emotional and physical care needs
  • Motivation and willingness to make any changes to their parenting if required to meet the children’s physical, emotional and developmental needs;
  • Ensure structure and routine for children that is age and developmentally appropriate;
  • Assess parent’s capacity to learn and apply new information to parenting as it relates to meeting their children’s attachment and care needs.
  • Provide recommendations for any intervention to maximise parental strengths and to address vulnerabilities including any risks to the child.
  • Cognitive Assessments – measure an adult’s cognitive functioning across the following domains: Full Scale IQ score, Verbal Comprehension, Perceptual Reasoning, Processing Speed, Working Memory, Auditory Memory, Visual Memory, Immediate Memory, Delayed Memory