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Attachment & Trauma Informed Care

Attachment & Trauma Informed Care


Since 1989, we have been at the forefront of developing and informing practice around what works in turning around the lives of children who have been impacted by trauma, abuse, and neglect. Working in partnership with UCL and the Anna Freud Centre, we have undertaken research studies to understand the impacts of adversity, and as a result have developed the Attachment and Trauma-Informed Care Model™.

The model represents a significant step forward in offering an evidence-based, attachment and trauma-responsive, sensitive approach to addressing the impacts of adversity experienced by many children and young people. It has been piloted and developed over a four-year period in a specialist residential home.

An Overview

Many of the children we look after have experienced repeated trauma in their lives – often at the hands of those they should have been able to trust – and as a result may face challenges in their attachments and relationships with others.

Our work is based on the scientific understanding of the impact of trauma and adversity and the effect that this can have on children’s lives. The ATIC model™ is used across the organisation to ensure we consider children’s lived experiences. It informs our:

  • Policies and procedures.
  • Language and practice.
  • Maintenance of a healthy system and culture.
  • Management of relationships at every level of the organisation, ensuring that these create safety and trust.

ATIC™ enhances the therapeutic nature of our service; it helps children process their past experiences and progress when they leave our care.

What is Attachment and Trauma-Informed Care?

Attachment and Trauma-Informed Care (ATIC™) is a multi-dimensional approach, combining care, education, and therapy. This means that no matter where a child, member of staff or carer is within the organisation, there is a ‘felt’ sense of safety and predictability; this ensures we create and maintain optimal ATIC™-sensitive practice and care environments in our homes, schools, and therapy centres. The model’s principles are woven into the fundamental patterns, routines, habits, and the collective relational style within Five Rivers Child Care.

How we work.

Attachment and Trauma-Informed Care™ is an organisation-wide model. Our staff practice a complementary, transparent, empowering, and collaborative approach at all levels, embedded through a series of training undertaken by all staff to ensure consistency.

All our staff complete our mandatory ProActive Approaches Behavioural Management training, which is based on knowledge of attachment and trauma. It promotes a culture of understanding and empathy, helping staff adopt a proactive mindset for possible challenging behaviour. It draws on contemporary research, developing our staff’s knowledge of:

  • Behaviour that might challenge in the context of child development.
  • The significant impact of childhood trauma and attachment.
  • Functions of behaviour.
  • Effective and practical de-escalation techniques, including help scripts.
  • The legal context.

Furthermore, our clear and structured methodology supports staff members within our organisation to facilitate and maintain an environment that restores the level of consistency needed in an optimal relationally based practice for reversing the impacts of trauma, abuse, and neglect.

All staff also complete additional mandatory training throughout the year, such as first aid, recording and reporting, and complete other training to develop their skills and knowledge around children’s needs, such as self-harm, suicide awareness and ligature, county lines and autism.

Principles of the ATIC model™ are embedded into two pathways: one for children and the other for our staff and carers, which include multiple components.

The Child’s Pathway

The child’s pathway is specifically designed to harness what we know ‘works’ in assisting children to recover from the impacts of adversity, trauma, abuse, and neglect. This includes several interrelated elements, such as:

  • Our targeted ATIC™ assessment process to track and monitor outcomes and to inform the therapeutic plan.
  • The sensitive ATIC™ relational approaches used by staff.
  • The psychotherapeutic approach used by the Assessment and Therapy team to address attachment, trauma, and dissociation.

The Staff and Carer Pathway

The staff and carer pathway is informed by some of the most current and relevant theories and approaches to certifying that our staff and carers are sufficiently equipped to provide healing relational care. This pathway offers a unique approach to developing and maintaining professional resiliency when working with traumatised children.

Outcomes as a result of the ATIC Model™

  • Successful step down to foster care.
  • Successful transition to mainstream education.
  • Return home.

Attachment & Trauma-Informed Care (ATIC™) in our children’s homes.

All our residential children’s home adopt our model to understand a child or young person’s past and present, and determine the best level of care for the best possible future,


Read our case studies here:


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