NZ Association of Psychotherapists respond to recent CYF report

An interim report on Child Youth and Family was released by Anne Tolley on September 24.  Following the release of the report, the New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists (NZAP) have voiced their concerns about children who are placed under state care.

Something of serious concern to NZAP is that many vulnerable children experience 7 or 8 placements before finding a secure home.  Furthermore, NZAP says they are assumed to be independent adults at 17 years old.

NZAP spokesperson on Child and Adolescent issues, Lynne Holdem says, "Most parents don't want to hurt their kids and don't know how not to.  Generational patterns of neglect and abuse are the result of trauma and insecure attachment.  Parents can learn how to reflect on their own experiences as children and their impact on behaviour.  If they are provided with a map of what secure attachment and protective parenting look like, they can then choose new and loving ways of responding to their children’s needs.  Parents can learn to tune into their infant's needs, provide comfort to them when they are distressed and watch over their play and exploration in a protective and kind way.”

The association says that short-term behaviour modification and psycho-education programmes aren’t always helpful for some families who have multi-generational patterns of neglect, mental health, abuse or addiction.  This is because they are not tailored to fit each family and set up unreal expectations of a quick fix.

Another issue NZAP says is the lack of support for foster families who take on children with disorganised attachment patterns and conduct disorders.  Secure attachment protects children against educational under-achievement, criminality, mental health, suicide and substance abuse.  So early intervention beneficial for such families.

Holdem says, "Attachment focused psychotherapy is effective and would prove a worthwhile investment for Child Youth and Family.