Leeds Beckett University
UsingStoryAndDramaWithAdoptiveAndFosterFamiliesInTheirHome-MOORE_Redacted.pdf (2.38 MB)

Using story and drama with adoptive and foster families in their home

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posted on 2022-11-14, 11:57 authored by Joan Moore
The need for therapeutic support for families of Looked After and adopted children is recognised in the literature and UK government reports. Numbers in care are rising as is the proportion of children showing impairment and self-blame affecting their capacity for relationships. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child enshrines the child’s right to information about their birth family and reasons for care decisions. There is an absence of research combining aspects of therapy (a) being in the family home, (b) using dramatic narrative play and (c) enlisting substitute parents in reconstructing the child’s life story. The focus of this inquiry is on how change came about in such intervention incorporating multiple techniques to meet individual need. In therapeutic context, this ‘theatre of attachment’ model replicates the ‘attachment dance’ of interactions between children and their caregivers. The nine families recruited comprised 17 parents and 14 children aged 6-9 years. In order to enable safety for securing the children’s attachment, of the 212 sessions that took place, 90% were in the home, the other 10% were in school. Primarily a phenomenological study, Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of interviews and records was used. To establish a firmer evidence base, mixed methods included tables of (a) ‘use of self’ and techniques and (b) changes observed in children, as problems were resolved. By the conclusion of the project, all the placements were intact. One prominent finding concerned changes occurring faster than expected. Specifically, instances of children’s joy in transformation were observed at twice the frequency of any other factor seen to influence change. Participant parents attributed this to the family home being a safe place to process painful memories. Collaboration and life story plays raised the parents’ empathy. They valued learning the ‘attachment dance’. Children’s creation of stories led to development of “The Storying Spiral” paradigm. Other significant themes were the safety of metaphor in play, repetition, and flexibility. Recommendations include situating therapy in the family home (when viable), involving parent/caregiver and addressing the life story. Also, birth parents’ predicaments need to be contextualised to relieve children of self-blame. Finally, creative play is posited as an effective means of communication to enable healing.


Qualification name

  • PhD


Brown, fraser ; Walker, gary

Awarding Institution

Leeds Beckett University

Completion Date


Qualification level

  • Doctoral


  • eng


Leeds Beckett University

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