ISP Therapeutic Pathway

ISP’s Therapeutic Pathway

Welcome to our Therapeutic Pathway - a training programme designed to help develop your therapeutic skills.

Our Therapeutic Pathway is a training programme that aims to build upon your skills and knowledge around key therapeutic principles. It’s been designed by our Head of Therapy, Dr Suzannah Hill in consultation with foster parents, staff and our young people, and is guided by the latest evidence-based therapeutic parenting approaches. 

About the programme

The first stage of the programme introduces the essential therapeutic skills you’ll need day-to-day as a foster parent, before moving on to the more advanced therapeutic knowledge and strategies that will underpin your practice.

We also have an additional stage (ISP Pathway - Senior Grade) where you demonstrate your ability to apply the learnings from the Therapeutic Pathway into your practice.

Our Therapeutic Pathway programme sits alongside our mandatory training as well as the additional training courses we offer. Many of the mandatory courses are available online via Learnative, which means that our face-to-face training can focus on the therapeutic sessions that you enjoy.

Stage 1: Fostering Therapeutic Relationships

Over 3 sessions, you’ll learn about a variety of different concepts around therapeutic relationships as well as create a plan for your personal development.

  • Module 1 – Expectations and reflective practice
  • Module 2 – Communication, discomfort, curiosity and the ‘Headspace’ model
  • Module 3 – Review, self-evaluation and development plan

Stage 1 will need to be completed to move to Main Grade.

Stage 2: The Foster Parent Toolbox

Building on the skills learned in Stage 1, the following sessions will broaden your knowledge around key models and theories to advance your understanding of therapeutic care.

Modules 1 and 2 will cover:

  • Child development and attachment
  • The impact of early trauma and abuse
  • Neuro-sequential recovery
  • Surviving abuse and neglect - ‘Secure Base’ model
  • Fostering trust, overcoming barriers and ruptures
  • Your emotions
  • Building and re-building resilience

Followed by sessions on: 

  • Attention-seeking behaviour
  • Anger
  • Hyperactivity
  • Disassociation
  • Control
  • Lying and allegations
  • Sexualised behaviour
  • Difficult sibling relationships
  • Self-harm
  • Turbulent teenage years

A final workshop will be held at the end of Stage 2 to bring together all these valuable learnings.

Stage 3: ISP Pathway - Senior Grade

This is an additional training pathway where you demonstrate your understanding of the concepts learned in the Therapeutic Pathway, and how you apply them in your day-to-day role.

This pathway includes:

  • Attachment Play Workshop 1: Play and You
  • Attachment Play Workshop 2: Attachment Play and Communication Skills
  • Attachment Play Workshop 3: Play in Practice
  • Case study reflective discussion groups
  • Mentoring / “Giving Back” - support new foster parents through mentoring or facilitating a peer support group

After completing this stage, you may be eligible to move to our Senior Grade.

Frequently asked questions 

Are the Therapeutic Pathway courses mandatory?

The following Therapeutic Pathway courses are mandatory:

  • Stage 1 – All Modules
  • Stage 2 – Modules 1 and 2

These courses are mandatory for any secondary foster parents who joined ISP after 1st September 2022. We also strongly advise any secondary foster parents approved before this date to attend these courses too.

What is a Reflective Practice session?

Reflective Practice sessions help us take stock of what you’ve learned, evaluate and get feedback on trying out new approaches, and use this reflection to work out what you might do next.

How long are the training sessions?

Workshops are generally around 2-3 hours. Follow up reflective practice sessions are around 1-2 hours.

What resources will I need to complete the courses?

We will provide you with a number of books to help you complete each stage. These include Therapeutic Parenting in a Nutshell for Stage 1 and Why Can’t My Child Behave for Stage 2.

Will I receive a certificate for completing each course?

Yes, you'll receive a certificate for each completed two-part module.

How long does it take to complete the Therapeutic Pathway?

It will typically take around 4-5 years to complete the pathway.

Transferring Fostering Agency

Already fostering?

Download our Transfer Guide and learn about the process of transferring and the amazing benefits of working with ISP.


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Whether you're looking for more information or you're ready to apply, we're here to help you on your journey.

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