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DDP in Ontario, update from Sian Phillips, Ph.D

30 August 2018

DDP continues to become embedded in clinical practice in little pockets of Ontario.

The Therapeutic Family Care program in Cobourg have just completed the Level Two certification and receive monthly supervision to discuss cases, role play and discuss how to help families repair relationships. Most of the team’s cliental are biological families and visits take place in their homes. Staff are learning to be PACEful as dogs bark (sometimes menacingly), parrots fly overhead, children scream and parents are steeped in mis-trust of any service connected to child protection services.

It is a testament to the clinical skills, sense of humour and persistence of the therapists that they return each week and doggedly use their new framework for understanding and responding to clients. Certainly learning DDP by being thrown in the deep end is a challenge, but one that everyone is up for! TFC will be presenting their successes and tribulations at our DDP conference in October.

Open Doors just south of Ottawa is another organization that is bringing DDP to their clinical team. The first level of DDP will be the first week of June and the director hopes to provide the structure to continue to learn how to better meet the needs of children who have experienced relational trauma.

George Hull in Toronto continue to gain confidence in practicing DDP and their clinicians are regularly submitting tapes to become certified as DDP therapists and are ambassadors in Ontario in helping professionals understand kids with trauma and the services that they need.

Youth Services Bureau in Ottawa have had their staff trained with level one and continue to work with Michelle Hogeterp to refine their DDP skills. Our local Child and Adolescent Psychiatry program is committed to training their staff to provide DDP for their families. It is so exciting to have big and influential organizations use DDP and embed PACE in interactions with children, families and other professionals in our communities. You have heard me say before that we will change the world one PACE at a time. I am even more certain of it.

Here in Kingston, the school community is becoming more adept at using PACE in their classrooms. We are trying to work at a ministry level to allow us to be alternative schools that better accommodate kids who are not yet settled to learn and to support the teachers who work so hard with these little ones who bring so much to school each day.

We will have three more schools who are committed to becoming trauma-informed, PACEful communities joining the project in September. I look forward to exploring how to support children in school using PACE and DDP principles at our conference in October.

PACE in classrooms

We will hopefully have some research to share about the effectiveness of PACE in classrooms. We have three graduates from the Belong program who will be returning to their home schools in September with greater confidence and trust in adults.

In March we added a seven year old to the program. All of our students to this point have joined at the beginning of the school year in September. It highlighted for all of us how quickly students feel safe in our program. Her hypervigilance was marked next to the students who had been there for a number of months. She was exhausted at the end of each day given the various conversations that spontaneously pop up around each student’s past and current fears (I don’t see my dad because he is in jail for hurting my mum type of conversations). For a little one who has coped by avoidance this is a lot to take in. By the end of her first week she reported back to her foster parent “I like this school. It is safe.” YES!

Further from home in Australia, there is great enthusiasm for DDP. Kim Golding and I have been doing some trainings and we know have some clinicians who have completed Level Two and have or are hoping to start the practicum. There are some more trainings planned for November and in 2019.