Therapeutic work in daily living settings
There is an aura around the notion of therapy which leads many workers in child care to undervalue the task which they do and to assume that therapy is something done only by experts or in therapeutic communities. This belief is shared by managers, policy makers and the public at large. It is assumed that any kindly soul with (or more often without) a basic training in general child care can look after children and young people, however deprived and damaged. A senior staff member of a children’s home where some excellent work is done with individual children once said to me that ‘of course’ they could not do the therapeutic work done by therapeutic communities. Certainly the resources available to each are not equivalent; although resources matter they are not the whole story. This staff member went on to express her sadness and frustration that her voice was rarely heard when field social workers were making plans for the future of children whom she had got to know well and whose emotional difficulties she had gone some way towards alleviating. She needed support in her underlying recognition that the work she was doing was important and was indeed therapeutic.