Inside I'm Hurting:
Practical Strategies for supporting children
with attachment difficulties in school
By Louise Michelle Bombèr
320 pages, paperback
"The beauty of this unique book is its simplicity and common sense. Louise has interwoven theory and practice in a most effective way. Louise's visionary book makes a timely contribution to making our present fractured society more humane for the hurt and the healer."
John Healy, Headteacher, Our Lady & St. Michaels, Abergevanny
"A great addition to the literature for adopted and looked-after children"
Caroline Archer, Author
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Pupils who survive multiple traumatic experiences of loss, trauma, abuse and neglect can easily be misunderstood in our schools, despite our good intentions. Such children often underachieve, at worst becoming excluded from the very place that could offer them an opportunity for "second chance learning" and for reaching their potential. These children do not respond well or consistently to behavioural modification techniques, nor are they able to thrive in a system largely created for those from a "good-enough" background.
Louise Bomber's innovative and easy to use strategies provide teachers and teaching assistants with new perspectives, practical tools and the confidence for supporting these children. Her work is based on the latest research from child development and Attachment theory (Bowlby), as well as many years of solid practical experience as a teacher-therapist working within education and social services with children, families and schools.
Contents include: how attachment difficulties can affect a child's ability to learn; providing and 'additional attachment figure' in schools; the benefits and challenges of getting alongside children who have experienced trauma and loss; transitions during the school day; permanency and constancy; being explicit; regulating arousal levels; handling conflict; wondering aloud; lowering the effects of shame; working with transition from primary to secondary phase; developing effective home/school partnership (includes a photocopiable initial meeting prompt card); providing staff support; recommendations for future action.
Louise Bomber practices as a Teacher Therapist for the Alternative Centre for Education - a special school which houses a pupil referral unit (PRU), provides integrated behaviour support for children with emotional behavioural and social difficulties (EBSD), and full-time provision for pupils aged 5-16. She is also an Adoption Support Teacher within social services. In addition, Louise works for Cornerways Children's Services as a therapist to adolescent girls who are looked after. She has been a teacher in both primary and secondary education. Under a multi-agency team led by Dr Paul Holmes in Brighton, she was involved in pioneering work on Attachment amongst children who were fostered or adopted. She believes passionately in finding ways to integrate the worlds of education and therapy from an attachment perspective to provide educational support for teachers, pioneering innovative work built on this premise.
Review written by John Healy, Headteacher, Our Lady & St. Michaels, Abergavenny
"The beauty of this unique book is its simpliity and common sense. Louise has interwoven theory and practice in a most effective way. Support strategies are succinctly outlined in such a way that can be easily implemented by staff working with our most vulnerable children. The ideas are innovative and will surely be the corner stone of future successful practice in our schools. One can only admire and be inspired by Louise's compassion which radiates throughout the book. Any school serious about inclusion must ensure it is read by its entire staff. Successfully used the strategies will bring great joy and fulfilment. Louise's visionary book makes a timely contribution to making our present fractured society more humane for the hurt and healer."
Review written by Derek Wilson - Co-Founder, Inclusive Solutions
"Inside I'm Hurting; Practical Strategies for Supporting Children with Attachment Difficulties in Schools' by Louise Bomber (Worth Publishing 2007) is an outstanding new book. The author is a teacher/therapist working in Brighton and Hove, UK and her passion is to support schools in becoming genuinely inclusive towards children who have experienced trauma and loss. One of the achievements of this book is that it manages to write about this work without taking a `medical model' approach to the behaviour of children who have had these experiences. As the author says - `we don't want children to acquire more labels'. She does however describe the children she writes about as having `attachment difficulties' but crucially, notes that `their difficulties stem from relationship' and it therefore follows that modification of their patterns of relating can also come from relationship. This is a very different discourse from that which sees these children as having various types of `attachment disorder' each requiring it's own type of `treatment'. This shift of perspective allows the author to then write about how the child who has experienced trauma and loss is likely to view the world and the people in it and to give those working with such children a wealth of insights and clues into what kind of person they should best try to be to meet that child's needs and help them learn and practice new ways of being in the world. Louise Bomber achieves this with practical clarity and a complete absence of jargon - her translation of the psychotherapeutic terms `transference' and `counter transference' into everyday language are the best I have ever read. Each chapter is full of quotes from teachers and support assistants who have used her insights and, within each of the key themes she explores, there are examples of useful scripts adults might use in difficult to manage situations. "
Review written by Karen Lomas, BA Hons, PGCE (Former teacher with 25 years experience and adoptive mother of an 11 year old daughter with a severe Attachment Disorder)
- Requested by Monica Duck, Director at PAC
Louise Bomber’s book is an insightful, inspirational, clear and practical manual which entirely fulfils its aims. Born out of the knowledge and skill acquired through her experiences as both a teacher and a therapist, as well as a genuine desire to improve the educational, social and emotional experiences of children who suffer Attachment Difficulties, she emphasises throughout that all of us involved in their support must be ‘gentle with our strength, strong with our gentleness.’ She stresses the need for open , regular communication and non-judgemental collaborative support between all the adults involved in supporting and nurturing these children.
Her style of writing is an echo of her watchword for how to handle this group of children: She metaphorically takes the reader’s hand in a way which inspires and fuels hope in being able to make a positive difference to the lives of children who have suffered trauma and abuse, whilst at the same time being realistic about the demands and stress which can occur in being the Key Adult for one of these children.
After an explanation of the three main types of Attachment Disorder and their possible causes, she takes the reader, step by step, through practical ways of supporting these children during all the key aspects of school, explaining when and why these children may experience difficulties. She includes the day to day access of the curriculum and gives a lot of emphasis to the all important beginning of the day, particular aspects of the school year, year to year transitions, including primary to secondary, as well as examining key events in the child’s personal life in terms of their impact on potential learning and the additional preparation needed to support the child at these times.
As well as strategies for the person she describes as the ‘Key Adult’ assigned to work alongside a particular child in lessons, she also includes sections on other areas of school life : These include dealing with peer questioning about the extra support being given to a pupil and the crucial task of supporting the child’s social interactions which she recognises should be integral to the Key Adult‘s work with the child and not simply an extra.
She makes an especial plea to recognise the particular problems of the adopted child by placing them on the SEN register and understanding that their trauma is far from over once they are placed with a permanent family.
Her book is aimed at teachers, learning support staff ,including learning mentors, but she also makes reference to parents in terms of the home-school collaboration as well as other agencies including CAMHS, Child and Family and Educational Psychologists. I would recommend it to anyone involved in any capacity with the support and nurture of children with an Attachment Disorder. Furthermore, if such highlighting of awareness and these practical and clearly effective strategies are not yet included as a part of the annual INSET programme in schools, it is my belief that it is time that they were.
© Worth Publishing Ltd 2012