Dyadic Developmental Practice

Trauma, Attachment & DDP Training

In line with current research (Golding, 2019; Staines, Golding & Selwyn, 2019; Hewitt, Gurney-Smith & Golding, 2018) Five Rivers Fostering, Ireland is committed to integrating the principles of Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy/ Practice/ Parenting (DDP) throughout the organisation and pursuing full DDP organisational certification with the DDP Institute (DDPI). This involves the full integration of DDP practice throughout the organisation.

What is DDP?

DDP is an overarching relational framework that brings together knowledge about developmental trauma, attachment, interpersonal neurobiology and child development. It encompasses: Dyadic Developmental Practice; Parenting; and Psychotherapy (DDP). DDP focusses on understanding what the world is like for children who have experienced significant trauma; and building attuned, connected relationships between children and their carers (See Figure 1 above.
Children in foster care commonly have had many changes in the people who look after them and find it hard to trust adults. They may believe that parents aren’t safe and can’t always be turned to for comfort and help. They may develop insecure attachments and try to stop their new parents/carers from becoming emotionally close to them. DDP helps us understand what is going on for children who are struggling in this way and respond in ways that best meet their relational needs.
Dyadic Developmental Practice is an all encompassing approach that includes parenting and caring for children as well as the therapy. It helps the professionals understand, work together with and be effective in their support of children and their families. It is a framework that allows an integration of other important interventions also, for example, Filial Therapy, Theraplay etc.

DPP Informed Parenting

Foster carers are often the key attachment figures for children who have experienced trauma and loss early in life and who have good reasons for finding it hard to trust adults. When children feel scared, alone, abandoned, hurt or hungry early in their life, they have no choice but to find ways or adaptive behaviour to help them get through these times by relying on themselves. The signs of these ways of thinking, feeling and behaving are often seen later when children are older and living in foster families. They show up as worrying or challenging behaviours that just don’t seem to make sense and make it hard for foster carers to know how best to care for children, this is especially so during times when the child’s outward behaviour seems to be saying that they don’t want or need the carer and won’t allow the carer to love them. Much of traditional day-to-day parenting assumes that children feel safe at home, and trust their parents and their motives when they discipline them. This parenting also assumes that children learn from consequences, are able to function well with a good degree of independence, and have come to accept their parent’s values, ideals, and goals. When these assumptions don’t seem to apply anymore, parenting strategies informed by what we know about developmental trauma and attachment may better connect with the child’s inner world. DDP is a therapeutic model that encompasses a new way of day-to-day parenting based on the principles of Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy (PACE).

Parenting With PACE

Parenting using the principles of PACE helps foster carers understand the meaning of children’s behaviour and stay calm and emotionally regulated as they talk with children, even at very difficult times. This, in turn, helps the child calm and helps the carer remain emotionally available to the child. This parenting approach suggests a range of parenting strategies which make the world feel a safer place for the troubled child. These strategies help foster carers show the child that they are doing their best to understand them and work out with them, better ways for the child to understand and manage their own emotions, thoughts and behaviours. They aim to help carers help the child in their care believe that they really will keep on trying until they get along better. Parenting that includes an attitude of PACE helps carers see the strengths and positive features of the child that lie underneath their negative and challenging behaviours. It helps children learn to trust their foster carers.


Five Rivers Fostering has made a substantial commitment to offering DDP Informed Trauma & Attachment training to all staff and foster carers within the organisation.

Trauma & Attachment in Fostering

An introduction to Trauma & Attachment in Fostering session is offered to all carers and staff. It is planned that this will also be rolled out for prospective foster carers as part of their fostering assessment.

Fostering Attachments with the Traumatised Child

This multi-session group training is offered online to staff and is offered as an in-person 10-session training to foster carers throughout the country. This in-depth training is an expanded version of the DDPI-endorsed training, Foundations for Attachment Training (Golding, 2017) which has a positive research base.

DDP (Levels 1 & 2)

DDPI-approved level 1 and level 2 training is being offered to staff throughout the country.

The Integration of DDP Informed Practice in Five Rivers Fostering

Integrating the principles of PACEful parenting (Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy) and DDP across the organisation is a key priority for Five Rivers Fostering, Ireland. We believe that adopting this framework of therapeutic parenting will provide children in care with optimal opportunities for the development of quality connected relationships with their carers while supporting our foster carers in their crucial roles. We will do this by embedding DDP practice into our everyday work/care; providing quality evidence-based training; facilitating high-quality DDP-informed support and guidance; as well as hosting multiple other training opportunities each year.

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