STRUCTURAL EMPATHIC THERAPEUTICS (SET)
SET contains the following elements. SET is based on a combination of therapeutic theory and social justice theory (see, for example, Edge 2016; Rawls 1999). It is an ecological model designed to combat distress in families across multiple domains (see, for example, Bronfenbrenner 1979; Jack 2000). It is also based on what children and families have themselves told us through the work with them which we have been deeply privileged to do.
Therapeutic Work with Children and Families
Our core work is therapeutic work with children and families across Cambridgeshire.
We have adapted our model to make it more egalitarian and democratic and offer children and families more choice in the therapeutic process. Our model is provisionally entitled Structural Empathic Therapeutics - it is a model of therapeutic social work designed to ensure that interventions are based on the needs of children and families and in order that we can offer choice. SET includes the following elements listed below, all designed to be a part of a process to help children and families overcome trauma and stress.
This can be viewed as a 'menu' from which families can select those elements which they would like and which fit their particular needs and situation. Our criteria are simply defined by a child, or a family, having experienced trauma or stress, including inter-generational trauma. This may be through some form of abuse (including emotional abuse), or neglect, but it may also be through traumatic poverty or environmental circumstances which we understand can be very distressing for children and families.
Therapeutic social work is a well-established paradigm for therapeutic support, used by a number of national agencies and charities and offers an alternative perspective and approach to traditional counselling. In particular, our own model has an emphasis on social justice, based on the international definition of social work which has inspired us.
There are many reasons why we work with children and families, as well as organisations more generally. We are always interested in re-thinking and re-evaluating our models to make them more inclusive and egalitarian towards children and families, as we believe that a greater choice in emotional well-being services is important to the key goal of reducing stigma, as well as reducing stress and increasing well-being.
As an example, we are currently revising our referral form to make it more inclusive and we welcome any comments from professionals or families, to our form, currently in draft. It can be viewed at the bottom of this page.
SET is in the pilot stage and it includes the following elements listed below. The idea is that a practitioner will meet with a family, form a well-being plan with them, and then discuss with them which of the following options would most suit their needs as a family. SET takes a holistic approach to families and the wider socio-economic context in which they live. SET is also adaptable and we can change elements mid-intervention if we agree with children and families that a change of perspective or focus is required.
We also offer all of these interventions separately.
THERAPEUTIC WORK - CHILDREN
We offer a therapeutic service to children across Cambridgeshire who have experienced some form of trauma and/or who may be experiencing emotional distress. Our model is adopted from attachment theory and we aim to involve caregivers at all stages of our work.
We are a multi-disciplinary team offering a range of therapeutic interventions and we follow NICE guidelines for the treatment of trauma. However, we also offer therapeutic work at a range of different intensities to suit the individual and developmental needs of children and families.
THERAPEUTIC WORK - ADULTS (Parents, Caregivers, Grandparents):
We offer therapeutic work to the adults in the families we work with separately from the work we do with children as it is not always appropriate to undertake this work together. We are also able to respond to adults who experienced trauma in childhood and this is a part of our service which we are aiming to grow.
We understand that families can experience traumas across generations and our aim is to offer therapeutic work to all generations in a family to address past trauma where appropriate.
THERAPEUTIC FAMILY WORK:
Sometimes, where families have experienced trauma and stress, this can impact on attachments and relationships within a family unit. As a result, we offer families the choice to undertake work as a family, or certain members of the family, to help repair attachments and build on the many strengths that all families have. This is not family therapy, the intervention operates at a lower tier than family therapy, but it is therapeutic work grounded in attachment theory, empathy and reflection. Within this model, there is also scope for 1:1 work for a parent or carer, or a child, if space is required to address personal traumas where this is not appropriate in a whole family setting. Again, this work can be tailored to meet the needs of individual families - we want interventions that fit around children and families and not the other way around.
Through our direct work with children and families, we have learned that emotional problems can often be caused by the environment and structures in which families live, particularly around what we have termed 'traumatic poverty'. We offer what we term 'structural' work, alongside therapeutic work, to attempt to address these issues. This might involve support around social isolation, communal issues, financial issues and also looking for funding for resources to support around particular themes linked to our emotional work. This might include:
- increasing opportunity for attachment-related activities (such as bikes, skateboards, games and so on).
- decreasing familial stress (through resourcing white goods, like a washing machine or dishwasher).
- increasing social freedom (the idea is that this would include things like driving lessons, or family bus or train passes, or tickets to activities).
We view this very much as egalitarian social justice work designed to offset social inequality (see Townsend 1979; Rawls 1999). Where (as at present) we do not have the resources internally to meet these needs, a practitioner will meet with a family, again 'map' their current stressors and positives, and where they would like to be, and we will work with them to meet those needs, submitting funding bids and referring on to external agencies.
'Empathetic Communities' - Community Based work [PILOT]:
This is a new element of our work, which we will begin to pilot in June 2019. We aim to provide more details over the next few months.
This project has been funded by a grant from the National Lottery Community Fund. Details can be found here
We will post further details shortly, but, in the meantime, if you are interested and would like some further information please contact us.
This is an ongoing project dedicated to documenting inequality. We are committed to egalitarian principles of social justice and the ongoing project of human emancipation as detailed in our mission statement. To this end, we need to hear from you...
Radical concern is our continuing quest to document existing inequalities and to empathically and sensitively translate these back to a wider public.
If you live or work in Cambridgeshire and perceive an exisiting inequality, affecting either your own life, or that of someone you know, please contact us - this can be done confidentially. We can't promise to change things, and we will not give you false hope, but we can offer a sympathetic ear and we will, at least, commit to doing something with what you tell us, such as advocating on your behalf, or documenting your evidence on inequality - if you give your consent for us to do so.
Please see our mission statement for further information on this complex issue.
You our can also (anonymously) take the survey on radical concern which will be online shortly.
As a fundamental part of our mission, we are committed to developing new services to address existing needs. If you perceive a gap in services, please feel free to contact us to discuss how you feel this affects issues around emotional well-being or social justice in Cambridgeshire. This remit is intended to be purposefully wide. However, please remember the principles of our mission statement - we will not compete with existing services, we will only support ideas which promote equality, inclusion and social justice and we are not a political organisation. Please check out what we have to say about these and other issues to see if we are the right fit for you. And have a look at how you can get involved. And, if we are going to work together to look for funding, we will need to evidence the need you have identified, though it's our job to support you with this. Enough from us, let's hear from you.