Papers written about therapeutic fostering and therapeutic care.

What is institutionalising for ‘looked after’ children and young people?

ABSTRACT: We look at the subject of institutionalisation for children and young people who are in residential or foster care. We begin by exploring the concepts of institution and institutionalisation. The concepts have different meanings, which can even be contradictory. This draws attention to the reality that family life can also be institutionalising. We explore, what is important from a child’s perspective? What is the quality of their experience? And most importantly how do their experiences equip them to move towards positive and fulfiling adult life? […]

Therapeutic Care in Family Settings

My ambition, on joining ISP, was to develop the therapeutic understanding of the staff and carers and to apply the therapeutic child care principles (Dockar-Drysdale 1990, Winnicott 1984) which we practiced at the Cotswold Community. The professionalism of the foster carers, referred to above, was a good starting point for this work.

Group Dynamics. ISP Training Course

GROUP DYNAMICS COURSE – Delivery Notes. ISP Training Course, John Whitwell and Mark Thomas, June 2005 Aims and Objectives Aim: To gain a greater understanding of how groups operate. Objectives: To look at our own experiences of groups. To understand the surface behaviour of groups. To consider what goes on beneath the surface of groups. […]

The Serious Business of Play

By John Whitwell. What is Play? Plato came up with the briefest and maybe the best formulation of play. He saw the model of true playfulness in the need of all young creatures, animal and human, to leap. To really leap you have to learn how to use the ground as a springboard and how […]

Therapeutic Child Care in a Family Setting

ISP (Integrated Services Programme) was one of the first, if not the first Independent Fostering Provider (IFP) in the UK when it started in 1987. It was created by experienced foster carers who had been part of Kent County Council’s pioneering fostering scheme, for the most troubled and troublesome young people, which started in the 1970s. [Nancy Hazel, “A Bridge to Independence: The Kent Family Placement Project” Blackwells 1981]

Having been specially trained and provided with intensive support to work with young people with highly complex needs, who had previously been thought of as “unfosterable”, the carers who started ISP knew what was needed to make fostering work as an alternative to residential care.


During the course of our presentation we will be looking at transitions from different perspectives: ISP as an organisation in transition; the transitions that foster carers go through from the time they first think about fostering through to becoming skilled and experienced carers; children who come into foster care, often ill-equipped to cope with this transition and many others they may have to face, both large and small.

Therapeutic Child Care

By John Whitwell | Published in “Re-framing Children’s Services.” Edited by Keith J White NCVCCO Annual Review Journal No.3, 2002. Introduction This paper is about therapeutic child care. My understanding of what this means was acquired during my 27 years at the Cotswold Community. I was privileged to work with two excellent Consultant Psychotherapists: Barbara […]