Close Up: Developmental Trauma from Beacon House

Beacon House brilliantly illustrates the range of difficulties and resilience factors, experienced by the neglected/abused baby, toddler, child and the impact on the child and into adulthood, and how developmental trauma can be healed through relationship. All associated with the child (carers, parents, teachers, health and social care workers) can provide regular opportunities for the child to be heard and understood and begin to feel safe.

With kind permission from the Therapeutic Services and Trauma Team we share the document with you.

View the document PDF here.

‘Prison system is brutal and broken’

The IRCT comments on today’s article by Sir Tom Winsor in The Times, Monday 16 September 2019

‘Prevention is better than cure. This is true everywhere — in health, conflict resolution, construction, environmental protection and so many other fields of human activity where things can and do go wrong. In policing, Sir Robert Peel’s first and ninth principles confirm this. In 1829, he said: “The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder; the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it”.

And yet, in policing today extraordinarily little police time is spent on prevention, and too high a proportion is devoted to dealing with the consequences of the failure to prevent. The causes of crime and disorder are many and often complex. They include social dysfunctionality, families in crisis, the failings of parents and communities, the disintegration of deference and respect for authority (sometimes because figures of authority behave badly too), alcohol, drugs, a misplaced and unjustified desire or determination to exert power over others, envy, greed, materialism and the corrosive effects of readily-available hard-core pornography and the suppression of instincts of revulsion to violence. Most have nothing to do with the police.…..

….Very high proportions of people in prison are unwell, uneducated, undervalued, and justifiably angry. In childhood, many have suffered or witnessed domestic violence or abuse. Many more have severe and chronic mental ill-health, intensified by years of lack of diagnosis or adequate early treatment. And many have no sense of self-worth, feel hopeless, lost and abused, and that no one ever has or ever will care. They believe they have nothing to lose.’

Sir Tom Winsor is Her Majesty’s chief inspector of constabulary 

We at The Institute for Recovery from Childhood Trauma agree that prevention is better and argue that if money is spent on working with children, young people and families that are affected by domestic violence, sexual, physical or emotional abuse or neglect and other ACES (and often there is coexistence) the outcome for the children and young people would be healthier both mentally and physically. There would be a short term (5 – 15 year) cost balanced by a longer term (lifetime) gain and overall benefit to society reducing NHS costs, youth Justice, prison and Justice costs

It is vital to recognise that children affected by developmental trauma are often in the grip of the physiological response which means that the past trauma is representing itself in the present and are triggered to flight, fight or freeze and are disruptive, aggressive, defiant or cut off from their environment. These children are often misunderstood in the education system and are permanently excluded from school. So begins the spiral into the prison system.


London showing of the documentary film Resilience

A ground-breaking new film on the biology of stress and Adverse Childhood Experiences and its links to major illnesses.

The original research was controversial, but the findings revealed the most important public health findings of a generation. RESILIENCE is a one-hour documentary that delves into the science of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and the birth of a new movement to treat and prevent Toxic Stress. Now understood to be one of the leading causes of everything from heart disease and cancer to substance abuse and depression, extremely stressful experiences in childhood can alter brain development and have lifelong effects on health and behaviour.

Beverley Webb is hosting a showing of this powerful film on:

Wednesday 3 April 2019  7:30pm

Vue Cinema Piccadilly London

To book your tickets now click on the link:


There will be a Q&A session afterwards with Beverley Webb and guests.

If you would like further information please contact Beverley on

Storing up trouble: NCB report exposes major failures in the system

In September 2017, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children (APPGC) launched an inquiry into the causes and consequences of varying thresholds for children’s social care. The Inquiry’s findings are published in the report ‘Storing up trouble: a postcode lottery of children’s social care’.

This vital document exposes major failures in the system designed to support families and children. The main concerns raised:

• Thresholds for child protection or enabling access for support are often too high and thresholds vary significantly between local authorities
• Children in need of a child protection plan are, in 2/3 of cases, being left vulnerable to continued abuse or neglect
• Only a “small proportion” of resources is spent on early help and family support
• Families and children in need experience a high turnover of social workers assigned to them

A persistent theme in the report is that support often comes very late, i.e. when a child is at risk of being taken into care. This increases cost to the state and delays the opportunity to relieve suffering. “Tolerance” for early help is “based on resources” – there is simply not enough capacity in the system.

One major conclusion that we can draw is that short term failure to offer appropriate services leads to long term increased cost and more children suffering the impact of developmental trauma and needing more complex services later on.

The report acknowledges (without specific reference) that there is often a combination of Adverse Childhood Experiences present for children in need of early help.

Help us help children and adults recover from early developmental trauma – a right acknowledged by the United Nations and signed by the U.K. under the UN Convention on the rights of a child.

Turning Children’s Lives Around

At our latest Best Practice Forum in June 2018, our keynote speakers Richard Cross (Head of Assessment & Therapy for Five Rivers Child Care) and Alison Hodgetts (a Registered Clinical Psychologist) gave a talk entitled “Turning Children’s Lives Around” – overcoming the impact of childhood adversity through therapeutically focused integrated care.

The presentation focused on the Five Rivers model of ‘trauma and attachment informed care’ and the knowledge, organisational structures and supports that are required to ensure good outcomes.

Five Rivers Child Care is a social enterprise that has been dedicated to addressing the impact of abuse, trauma and neglect for almost three decades.

The care provider has made significant investments into developing knowledge and understanding about what works in accurately identifying the needs of the child or young person. This has ensured the right therapeutic environment to meet the needs of children and young people who have experienced trauma.

Richard shared how this unique approach was embedded across Five Rivers Integrated services of Education, Care and Assessment & Therapy – and how a partnership with researchers from University College London and The Anna Freud Centre was successfully developed.

Richard and Alison further explained how Five Rivers Integrated case management maximises the use of the assessment comprising “three key strands” (attachment, trauma and disassociation). The approach aims to transform and maximise the impact in responding to the emotional needs of the child or young person.

Fountain House, a Five Rivers residential facility, has developed an attachment and trauma informed residential therapeutic environment. Richard explained that this approach has demonstrated how it can ‘transform children’s lives’ by minimising the impact of their traumatic experiences as they develop’.

Concluding the talk, Richard made an important point to the audience, that ‘the integrated model provides the glue and a shared understanding helps people to connect’. Summing up the necessary steps to develop an integrated service, he stated that the following key areas were essential to successfully delivering this model:

1. Develop a relationship-based therapeutic model
2. Capture the hearts and minds of the workforce
3. Help children and staff to understand what is happening
4. Provide training and a toolkit for staff
5. Develop a supportive culture for staff
6. Undertake a full assessment of the child/young person’s past experiences and current issues to identify their needs

The Earl of Listowel thanked them for their presentation and the audience then took the opportunity to ask questions.

Our Speakers

Richard Cross is Head of Assessment & Therapy for Five Rivers Child Care – an innovative and progressive social enterprise dedicated to ‘Turning children’s lives around’ who have experienced trauma, abuse and neglect. His focus is on ensuring the development of effective identification of need (assessment) and deliverer of therapeutic interventions that make the difference.

He is a UKCP, EAP, WCP registered Psychotherapist and Child Psychotherapist who has worked with children, young people and adults who have experienced trauma since 1991. He has sought to support the development of a range of relationally based therapeutic programs to improve outcomes for maltreated children e.g. New Zealand advanced EQUIP program (2002), Adapted SOTP for adolescents (1998) and piloted a trauma informed approach across 16 residential homes (2007 – The Sanctuary Model). He is a member of the European Society for Trauma & Dissociation (ESTD) and a member of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD).

Alison Hodgetts is a Registered Clinical Psychologist who has worked with children, young people and their families over the last 10 years, both in the NHS and privately. The focus of her clinical work has been with children and young people who are fostered or adopted; providing assessments, therapy and consultation, as well as training carers, parents and professionals.

Her professional interests include Attachment Theory, Developmental Trauma and attachment-based psychotherapy. She has completed her Level 2 Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP) training and is working towards completing the DDP practicum. Alison joined Five Rivers 12 months ago and works with the Fostering teams in the West Country.