Over 230 people attended our successful International DDP 29 -30 April 2019 at the Stratford Manor Hotel, Stratford Upon Avon.
Our huge thanks go to Vicky Sutton and Alison Keith, who organised this 2-day residential conference, supported by DDP Connects UK.
The conference featured internationally renowned speakers in the field of Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy, Parenting and Practice. As always, our conference was open to everyone.
Speakers explored the development of DDP from its roots through to the building of a base in the UK to promote this model which benefits so many children and their families.
Dan Hughes, Sian Philips, Sarah Morse, Jonathan Baylin and Ben Gurney-Smith, with expertise in trauma, attachment, brain development and research, presented on the first day one. On day two, Kim Golding and a variety of presenters showcased DDP Practice in the UK in all its contexts: therapy, residential care, education, with an opportunity for practice consultation.
Exceptional Contribution to DDP Worldwide Award
Dan Hughes presented Julie Hudson, DDPI board member and DDP Connects UK director, with an award for her “exceptional contribution to DDP worldwide”.
This conference celebrating the therapy founded by Dan Hughes, developments in the DDP model of practice, the work of DDPI and DDP Connects UK was an excellent opportunity to mark all that Julie has achieved.
This acknowledgment of Julie’s work over the last decade was marked by the enthusiastic applause of the audience, culminating in a standing ovation.
Dan Hughes, Kim Golding and Julie Hudson launched their new book Healing relational trauma with attachment focused interventions: Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy with children and families with the authors signing copies.
Sarah Morse and Sian Phillips – Clinical Presentations
On the morning of the first day, Sarah Morse and Sian Phillips presented their clinical work with children and parents demonstrating the core components of DDP and their application to clinical practice.
Both presentations were moving, showing the extent to which children will strive to make sense of their confusing and scary world when feeling safe with their parents and carers, with the help of a skilled therapist. Our thanks go to the children and parents who gave consent. Both Sarah and Sian were joined by Dan Hughes, who offered his reflections on their work.
To quote Sian their work explored “the therapeutic value of ‘hanging out’, trusting the process when you feel lost or are not sure anything is happening and the magic of story-telling”.
Jonathan Baylin – “Blocking Pain, Blocking Care, Blocking Hope”
Jonathan Baylin’s presentation “Blocking Pain, Blocking Care, Blocking Hope: The Neurobiology of Surviving in a Harsh World” shared recent developments from the world of interpersonal neurobiology, highlighting its relevance to the work of DDP practitioners when applying this knowledge to their therapeutic work with families, helping children to heal from complex trauma.
To quote Jon, his talk “presented a brain-based model of how chronic, inescapable stress can sensitize the child’s stress response system and trigger the release of a natural opioid called DYNORPHIN. Dynorphin orchestrates the adaptive process of shutting down the social engagement system and enabling a child to endure the otherwise unbearable experience of living without predictable comfort and joy provided by trustworthy adults.
Understanding this chemical blocking of the social engagement system helps us to understand more deeply what we need to do to help children recover from blocked trust. This model also can help to integrate the processes of DDP, medication, and the array of non-relational processes that can contribute to removing the dynorphin block and reawakening the child’s capacity to experience the comfort and joy of trustworthy connections.”
Ben Gurney-Smith – DDP: does it do exactly what it says on the tin?
Ben Gurney-Smith presented current findings from the latest DDP research.
This included where we are at with developing an evidence base for DDP, sharing the latest on the progress of the grant funded application for an RCT and reporting on the first qualitative study of DDP, reflecting on where this leads us in practice and areas for further research.
At the end of day one, Vicky Sutton hosted the first get together of all those in our DDP Community who host our free DDP Special Interest Groups (SIGs) across the UK.
In the evening the dinner and ceilidh organised by Alison and Vicky was enjoyed by all.
Showcasing DDP Practice in all its contexts
Julie Hudson started the day summarising developments in DDP Connect UK including new DDP Referral and Commission Guidance and the new concept of Partner Organisations. Julie introduced to delegates those in the audience who have been instrumental in our latest developments.
Helen Kirkaldie and Lynn McDonnell – Embedding relationship based interventions and DDP principles across agencies
Helen Kirkaldie and Lynn McDonnell discussed their role embedding relationship based interventions and DDP principles across agencies. Their talk enabled us to get a clear picture on all they have achieved in Gwent, Wales. Considering questions of “How do you build the foundations for DDP to be most effective?” they introduced the background of how and why they bid for the attachment service. In “The therapeutic process of the work: the how rather than the what…they talked about the service they provide, the values that underpin it and how DDP has informed the process and structure.
In ”What we have learned and achieved ?” they reflected on the process including how the process of supporting DDP-informed practice in teams mirrors therapeutic work and included outcomes through data and stories.
Kim Golding – Sitting with the uncomfortable. DDP with foster carers, young people and adults who have grown up in care
Kim Golding’s presentation explored the importance and challenge of sitting with the painful experience of our clients, accepting and supporting this difficult experience. The power of storytelling to help us to do this was illustrated with stories of working with a young person, foster carer and adult care-leaver.
Ruth Miller, Blake Killeen, and Julie McCulloch – Implementing DDP informed practice within an education system
Educational Psychologists Ruth Miller and Blake Killeen, and Julie McCulloch, Education Manager for Looked After Children from East Ayshire Psychological Services will be presenting on “Implementing DDP informed practice within an education system – supporting schools, staff, families and individuals”. They explored their approach to applying DDP both therapeutically and at a systems level to improve relationship-based practice within education in East Ayrshire. This involved case exemplars and models of delivery on their journey to a DDP-informed Education system which seeks to improves outcomes for all children, but particularly those most in need.
Their story, to quote them, included: “warts & all – the tears and the snotters, the hugs & the laughter and the absolute joy of seeing colleagues, parents, carers & children bloom”
Gemma Burns, Joy Gamble and Lynn McDonnell – Bringing Dyadic Developmental Practice to a Residential School
In “Bringing Dyadic Developmental Practice to a Residential School” Gemma Burns, Joy Gamble and Lynn McDonnell presented the work of Headlands Day and Residential School in South East Wales. Sadly Matt Burns, School Principal was unable to attend.
The perspectives were explored of the staff team and the young people who have been on this DDP journey and the impact they feel it has had for them thus far. The presenters shared their reflections on both the challenges and the successes of bringing DDP to a complex human system, and the importance of remaining ‘open and engaged’ during significant organisational change. Headlands School have recently begun the process to become a certified DDP organisation bringing DDP into the classroom, the home and into the wider organisational structure.
The varied presentations on the second day alternated in educating, entertaining and emotionally moving those who watched and listened. It was quite a day in a remarkable conference.
The event was also live tweeted, to see a recap of the conference please search for the hashtag #DDPUKConf2019 on Twitter.
Thank you to all who came, contributed and supported, it was an fantastic conference and we look forward to seeing you all at the next one.
When available all conference proceedings will be added in the DDP Library, we will let you know when this happens.