On 30 November 2017, CCATS held its fourth conference “Moving Forward – Working with young people: Research and innovation” in Manchester. The event showcased the research of the CCATS team to practitioners working with young people and reflected their evidence-based approach towards the application of knowledge in clinical practice. This can have real impact for the people we support.
During the event, presentations covered a range of topics that reflected the diversity of interests and skills in the CCATS team, including secondary trauma, child sexual exploitation, aggression, institutional abuse, self-injury and posttraumatic growth. All presentations addressed areas of research that are lacking in the wider literature, thus demonstrating innovation and promoting the latest knowledge. There was also an opportunity to hear the work that CCATS Fostering undertake with young people and foster families.
Dr. Carol Ireland presented her systematic review on secondary trauma in professionals working with traumatised children, co-authored with intern Sonia Huxley, which has now been accepted for publication in the Journal of Forensic Practice (congratulations!) This review draws attention to the idea that working with traumatised children can be potentially traumatising to professionals, an area often overlooked. The presentation identified key themes of the secondary trauma experience, and made recommendations to support professionals in their practice.
Kirsty Alderson discussed her PhD research on child sexual exploitation. She identified factors that should be considered when assessing the impact of CSE on a young person’s development. An individualised needs assessment was key to supporting young people, which considers both risk and resilience factors.
In her presentation, Professor Jane Ireland provided an introduction to the aggression literature. There was a need to acknowledge the motivations for aggressive behaviours, including assessing a range of emotions, thoughts and beliefs, environmental factors and instances of non-aggression, rather than focusing on typologies. Together, these could be combined to provide a more holistic formulation of behaviour.
The afternoon presentations began with a talk from Rebecca Ozanne on institutional abuse. Currently in the early stages of her PhD, Rebecca outlined the results of her systematic review on factors that promoted negative symptoms and strength among those who have experienced in-care or institutional abuse. There was a need to dispel myths that all people who are institutionally abused go on to abuse others, and to help individuals to recognise strengths and talents, thereby enhancing well-being.
Charlotte Caton, who is in the latter stages of her PhD, presented her research on self-injury. Charlotte presented her own model of self-injury to help understand the reasons why people engage in self-injurious behaviour. She encouraged practitioners working with young people who self-injure to focus on their strengths and consider the various reasons why people may engage in this behaviour.
The CCATS Fostering team outlined the support they offer at every stage of the fostering process to young people and foster families. The talk, delivered by Garry Williams (Registered Fostering Manager) and Lynn Parsons (Foster Carer), outlined the vision of the fostering team and the psychologically-informed model they use, which includes psychological assessment and therapeutic provision from CCATS staff if appropriate.
Finally, Matt Brooks (University of Central Lancashire), who is in the final stages of his PhD, presented his research on posttraumatic growth. He introduced the idea some people can also report positive changes following traumatic experiences, shifting the sole focus away from the negative symptoms. Matt discussed the impact of childhood trauma on adults and the PTG research on children. The presentation recommended practitioners focus on promoting positive thought processes and the social environment to encourage growth in young traumatised children.
The event was well-received. Here are some comments from attendees:
“Presentations were thorough and well-presented, demonstrating key knowledge and experience.”
“Good overview of the varied specialisms within CCATS.”
“There was a clear application to practice.”
“I was able to relate to behaviours displayed by young people within my care, and have new ideas on how to challenge and manage these more effectively.”
All that is left to be said is a big thank you to all of the speakers and CCATS staff involved in putting this event together and making it a success!