Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP)

This is a service for children who have experienced loss, trauma, abuse, neglect and/or multiple placements. These children have not developed secure attachments. They do not experience the world as a safe place but as dangerous and unpredictable. Children who have been hurt and neglected in the past do not know how to use parents to help them.  They find relationships frightening rather than soothing and they have learnt to rely on themselves. Parenting these children is a complex tasks and can leave parents and carers feeling deskilled and rejected. Over time we have learnt that love, stimulation and boundaries are not enough. Different ways of parenting are needed to help them recover and learn to build relationships. 

Therapy starts with several sessions for the parents alone:

Parent/Carer Preparation Sessions

These are a combination of emotional support and practical recommendations. The purpose is:

  • to prepare the parents to become active participants in the therapy.
  • to help parents understand how trauma affects the developing brain and how this impacts their child's day to day functioning
  • to explore how their child's behaviour may trigger parents' own issues
  • to offer practical strategies to increase attachment and positive relationships

Parent/Child sessions

When the therapist judges the parents are ready the child will join the sessions.

The focus is not the child's behaviour but what may be underneath it. Therapy focuses on the relationship between parent and child, the aim is to help the child and parents to understand each other better, to increase opportunities for attunement and fun and to help repair breaks in the relationship.  The therapeutic conversations involve feeling as well as thinking and the therapist explores all aspects of a child’s life – present and past, fun times and hard times. All interactions will be playful, accepting, curious and empathic and the therapist will help the child stay emotionally regulated.

More information can be found at the DDP network website: www.ddpnetwork.org