For Young People

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All about Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP)

Here are some things children have said about coming to see a therapist with their parents or foster carers. The names of the children have been changed so they can’t be identified.


Therapy with Joshua and his parents finished when he was 6 years old. He said this 3 years later when he was aged 9 years old.

When I first went to see my therapist I really didn’t know what to expect.  We played games and also coloured sometimes. I always got a magazine every time I went to see her. On the last time I pretended to be a F1 Driver. We had cakes and biscuits and wore party hats. I thought she was really strange and even to this day I still do. She helped me out with my tantrums so now I don’t have them. Life is much better now after having conversations with her.


Lucy was 8 when she stopped coming to see her therapist with her dad. She said this 3 years later when she was 11 years old.

When I first went to see my therapist I really didn’t want to talk about what I had been through, but she did make me feel safe, not having to worry about anything. I liked all the fun games we played and the funny things she used to say. I always looked forward to seeing her. My favourite memory was when she helped me create a short film of my life. She played an amazing version of me! All the games and talks I had with her have become some of the best memories of my life.

Some Questions and Answers about DDP

Here you’ll find some questions and answers about going to therapy. Don’t worry if you don’t understand something, just ask your parent, carer or your therapist and they will help explain things.

Why does the name have words that don’t make sense?

This is a good point. The name wasn’t made with children in mind.

Dyadic means ‘something about two people’. This word was used because this therapy helps people with their relationships. DDP is a type of therapy that you and your parent or carer do together.

‘Developmental’ is used because the children and adolescents who come for this kind of therapy have often not been well cared for by their birth family members when they were growing up, or developing.This therapy tries to help you so that you are able to learn new things and do things that you want to be able to do.

Why do parents or foster carers want their children to come to therapy with them?

Children and adolescents will be asked to come because their parents want help with how everyone gets along in the family.

They might also have worries about how they can best parent and help their children.

Parents might ask you to come because they think that as their child you might be a bit confused or in a bit of a muddle about things. Some things might have happened to you when you were very young that are hard to understand. Those things might still be making your life difficult today.

For all kinds of good reasons, it can be really hard for children to trust their parents and let them get close. Maybe children get worried or sad or angry. They might find it hard not to cry, shout, hide or run away.They might find it hard to ask for help, to talk about what they think or feel or want, or even to be able to have fun without worrying about it going away and never coming back.

Sometimes these feelings can make young people do things that really worry their parents or get the young people into trouble.And sometimes young people also do things that cause them to worry about themselves.

Parents know how hard all this can be for their children. That’s why they think about this kind of therapy.

What does therapy do?

Therapy is where parents, children and your therapist will try to work out together where the muddles have come from. It will try to help with making sense of the behaviours you show that worry people or worry yourself.

It can be hard to trust adults once someone has let you down. Having regular time together in therapy helps parents and children let each other know what they each feel and what’s going on inside, so maybe they can get closer. This therapy helps parents and children know that if they have an argument, and even get really angry with each other, they will be able to talk about it, work it out together, and be close again.

How does it work?

Usually you come with one or both of your parents. They will be coming with you because they want to help you sort out all this stuff. You will be coming together so that you all get to know each other better and discover what makes you special to each other.

Sometimes this means talking and sometimes listening. Sometimes really tough things have happened and it is hard to think about them clearly. Your therapist might help you to find your words so that you can help your parents to understand you better and give you the best care that you need.

There might be times when drawing and playing helps with making sense of things.

What will the therapist do?

dad-son-sofa-lookingat-eachother.KB-©-SergeiteleginThe therapist will talk to your parents or foster carers to find out how things are going. They will try to do this before each time you meet together.

The therapist will listen to you and help you talk about difficult things. They will not judge you, tell you off, laugh at you or get angry with you.

When you meet, you will talk together about day-to-day events over the past one or two weeks. These things might include what you are  happy about, proud of, worried about, angry about, sad about, excited about, or whatever else is important to you.  Your therapist wants to discover all about you, not just what you are troubled – or in trouble – about.  You all might also try to make sense of how things that happen now could be linked to things from the past.

If parents think their child needs this therapy, does that mean there’s something wrong with their child?

No, definitely not.

This therapy is about helping children with how things are now as well as sort out the muddles and confusion of the past. Parents understand just how hard it is for children to do all this on their own. Your therapist will also be helping your parents or foster carers with what might be hard for them too. Living together in a family can get tricky for everyone, parents and children.

It might not feel like it at the time for their child, but bringing their child to therapy is a way parents show how much they want to help. It also shows how parents also are willing to work hard to make the family be a better family for everyone.