University of Coimbra
Laura Santos holds a Master’s Degree in Clinical and Health Psychology. She worked in a Residential Foster Home belonging to CrescerSer, where she developed the Projet’Ar-te project with funding from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. This project covered the development, implementation and evaluation of a programme for the development of autonomy skills for young people in foster care and a support structure for young people in the post-care period. Laura is currently a PhD student in Forensic Psychology at the Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences of the University of Coimbra and researcher at the Center for Research in Neuropsychology and Cognitive-Behavioural Intervention (CINEICC). In her PhD thesis, she developed and piloted a Compassionate Mind Training Program for Caregivers and published several articles in international journals.
“Promotion of an affiliate mindset in the foster care of children and youth at risk: results of a clinical trial with an impact on caregivers and emotional climate in foster care homes”
Caregivers play a critical role in foster care. They are role models who can shape healthy and adaptive relational dynamics and emotion regulation strategies. However, caregivers face situations of emotional stress on a daily basis and deal daily with young people with potentially traumatic life stories.
Compassion, a motivation to care that can be trained and cultivated, involves being in touch with suffering and easing its pain, either in others or in ourselves. It thus becomes essential that the caregiver can cultivate a compassionate mind, not only to regulate their own emotions, but to be able to validate and respond appropriately to the emotional experience of young people without reacting reactively and critically. Therefore, we will be able to develop a safe and supportive relational space, which promotes restorative experiences, capable of responding to the emotional and binding needs of young people in foster care.
The Compassionate Mind Training for Caregivers (CMT-C) program is designed to promote a mindset of affiliation, thinking about an improvement in the care provided in residential care. It is a structured program of 12 group sessions, aimed at multidisciplinary groups in which all those who provide care to young people at risk participate.
In this conference, the contents and methodologies of CMT-C will be described, as well as the main results on its efficacy, evaluated in a randomized clinical trial by clusters. A total of 77 caregivers from 12 foster care homes in Portugal participated in this study. This survey has demonstrated the benefits of the CMT-C program in residential foster care, proving to be effective in promoting more affiliative, safe and healthy environments for those who live and work in these homes.