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Supporting the Professional Development of Frontline Workers in Schools: A skills-focussed training programme enhancing collaborative practice with children and families with complex needs Dr Sheena Kapur Clinical Psychologist Luton Child and Adolescent Mental Health Early Intervention and Prevention Service
Aims of Workshop For delegates to have an understanding of: • How we identified the need for this training for frontline staff in schools • The process of setting up and delivering the training • The content of the training • Evaluation of the training • The practice support required post-training
Background Information • History of Luton CAMH Community Service (Tier 2) • Delivery of training to Family Support Workers in Luton (2004) • Introduction of Targeted Mental Health in Schools initiative (2008) provided further opportunity to offer training to frontline workers (FLWs) in schools
TAMHS FLW Working Group • Representatives from local authority, schools and CAMHS came together to consider the training needs of frontline staff in their schools (consultation period) • The group identified that existing training for FLWs had been focussed on acquiring knowledge of policy and procedures (e.g. CP issues) or developing specific skills (e.g. solution-focussed training) • However, training had provided limited opportunities for staff to reflect on their work with children and families
Challenges faced by FLWs • Management of challenging behaviour and stressful situations with children and families • Feeling overwhelmed by complex difficulties presented to them • Recognition of lack of skills in responding effectively to children and families with complex needs • Limited time to stop and think about the impact on self and feelings evoked from working with complex issues on daily basis • Feeling isolated and unsupported in their roles
Challenges faced by FLWs • Extended periods of time supporting families • Sense of personal responsibility in trying to problem solve for children and their families, including taking a lead role in liaising with other agencies • Feelings of frustration when positive outcomes are not so easily found
FLW Training The training aimed to: • Provide a theoretical basis from which delegates could start to develop more of an exploratory approach to their work with children and families over a “problem-solving” approach • Promote the importance of self-care and professional boundaries as a means of helping the delegates manage their workloads more effectively
FLW Training Delegates • Family Support Workers • Inclusion Managers • SENCOs • Teaching Assistants • Learning Mentors • Assistant Heads of Houses (secondary schools)
Promoting a Reflective Approach • Open reflections on dilemmas that arise in the delegates’ work • Different methods for reflecting: large group discussions, work in small groups/pairs, personal learning logs • Feedback invited from every session helped to shape the next session Confidentiality essential
FLW Training: Introduction • Introductory Exercise: Reflections on how stories about our names (within family, social, work contexts) influence our identity, how we can get positioned by stories and how we position ourselves in relation to these (Harre & Langenhove, 1999) • Skills which enable effective communication: Rogerian principles (Rogers, 1967). Promoting importance of empathy, active listening, effective non-verbal communication, use of open questions
Promoting a Systemic Approach Non-systemic • Focus on individual • Focus on linear explanations e.g. A causes B • More interest in the individual (e.g. the child) and how he/she operates independently Systemic • Focus on relationships • Focus on interactions and how we influence each other • Understanding how all connected people contribute to difficulties
Systemic Concepts: Curiosity • Being open to multiple explanations of presenting concerns versus having a fixed idea of problem • As Cecchin (1987) explains: “when we assume that we have an explanation, we often give up looking for other descriptions” • Explanations are neither true or false, but more or less useful • Being curious encourages the development of multiple perspectives and voices
Social DifferenceThe GRRAACCEESS (Roper-Hall, 1993) • Gender • Race • Religion • Ability and Disability • Age • Culture • Class • Ethnicity • Education • Sexual Orientation • Spirituality
Application of Concepts • Small group exercise with case example • Selecting one of the GRRAACCEESS as a lens to inform delegates’ curiosity about the case
Additional Systemic Concepts/Techniques • Taking into account “multiple perspectives” e.g. the perspectives of other family members (parents, grandparents, siblings), as well as other professionals involved with a child (teachers, FWs, TAs, LMs, etc.) • Use of genograms as a technique for exploring concerns within family context
Promoting Self-Care • Consideration of professional boundaries, inviting delegates to consider the position they would take in dilemmas described in case examples • Recognising the factors that contribute to stress • Mapping out and reflecting on support systems
Connecting Theory to Practice • Introduction of peer supervision model (Proctor, 1997) • Follow-up (half-day) practice sets based on Proctor’s model
Training Evaluation • Post-training satisfaction questionnaires • Pre- and post-training asking about delegates’ understanding of the key theoretical ideas presented in the training • Semi-structured interviews
Training Evaluation: Impact on Practice • Taking a curious approach • “I think thinking about being more curious has made me think it’s okay to ask more questions” • Taking a facilitator role • “We can be there but we can’t stop things happening unless they make a decision to make a change. So hopefully we’re facilitating change” • Use of specific technique (genogram) • “That enabled me to be a bit more curious and I asked more questions about other members of the family…and it highlighted the effected relationships” • Understanding social differences - “it’s useful because…it reminds you that that “oh I’ve never really discussed this aspect, I haven’t discussed the cultural aspect…..the ethnicity or gender issues”
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