‘Since we can’t change anyone else, we must work at changing ourselves.’
The Masters in Therapeutic Child Care (MATCC) was established in 2004 in order to promote a child-centred and therapeutic quality of professional residential care for children and young people. Since its inception, however, the course has attracted a wide range of professional practitioners from the disciplines of teaching, social work, various forms of therapy and community work, as well as social care in youth work, in adult day care and in residential child care.
On the MATCC we believe that for a service to be truly therapeutic and to be experienced by the client as a healing experience, the client needs to be at the centre of the service. The client or service user needs to be in a relationship with her carers in which she is valued. Such relationships act as the main drivers of positive change. They should be modelled on the classic psychotherapeutic relationship between client and therapist, which does not work unless it is based on respect and equality.
This is a radical approach that can be very challenging to implement, which may explain why it is so rarely used. When the worker opens herself to the pain of hurt and troubled people, this brings up feelings and behaviours of her own which need to be understood and managed. The fundamental question to be answered becomes, ‘what is behind the behaviour, both ours and the people we care for?’ Staying with the problem until it eases and discloses its cause becomes the fundamental therapeutic task.