Becoming a Foster Carer carries with it a range of demands – both practical and emotional*
Practical Demands Include:
- Needing to understand the concepts of attachment and group dynamics.
- Listening skills
- Manage challenging behaviours
- Understand the legislations and complexities of the “system”
- Become experts in writing reports
- Organising and planning events, meetings, access etc.
Emotional Demands may include:
- Needing a positive attitude to children's rights – possible conflicts with cultural, moral opinions or customs.
- A huge capacity for forgiveness
- Discovering your own limitations.
- Accepting that not everything is inside of your control.
- Feelings of guilt and betrayal when placements break down.
- The tight-wire of being the parent but not being the parent.
As with most aspects of life, there are often times when we require a little extra support and the opportunity to reflect on what is causing us difficulty. Every foster carer will have different coping strategies and resources which can include the following:
- Social Worker / Link Worker
- Professionals / GP / Counsellor. etc.
- Peer Support
The following options are available for you to consider when you feel you may need extra emotional support:
Telephone Counselling Service
Members who have taken the optional insurance scheme with IFCA have access to a Counselling Helpline as part of the insurance scheme.
This service provides confidential counselling over the telephone for anyone aged over 18 in your home. It is staffed by trained counsellors who can provide emotional support for any issues that you may be encountering. This may be one-off assistance and where appropriate, you may also access up to six sessions of structured telephone counselling. This would take place with a trained counsellor at a pre-arranged time over the phone. Sessions last for 50 minutes and are available Monday to Friday (9am to 5pm).
Researchers have begun observing a growing trend in which trained counsellors and psychologists are now seeing at least some of their clients via the telephone.* A recent study found that more than half of clients (58%) who had experienced both in-person and phone counseling preferred phone counseling.**
Unlike other forms of counselling, telephone counseling is potentially free of certain constraining factors that affect traditional therapy, including location, time and cost, making this form of counselling more accessible for a number of people who would be unable to attend traditional psychotherapy. It also provides a degree of additional level of ease that is comforting to some callers, reducing the intimidation that some people may feel at the prospect of seeking treatment with a traditional in-person therapist.
The service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Your insurance documentation will contain the telephone number to access it. If you have any difficulty in finding this information, please contact the IFCA helpline on 01 4585123.
*Barnett, J.; Scheetz, K. (2003). Technological advances and telehealth: Ethics, law, and the practice of psychotherapy. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training. 40(1-2), 86-93
**Reese, R., Conoley, C., Brossart, D. (2006) The Attractiveness of Telephone Counseling: An Empirical Investigation of Client Perceptions. Journal of Counseling & Development. 84:1, 54-60.
Counselling accessed through Tusla/Private Fostering Agency
One of the principal roles of the Fostering Link worker is ensuring that counselling is available to you and your children following any critical events within foster care. The National Standards for Foster Care (2003) states “In any situation where a board must act in a manner likely to be experienced as damaging by a foster carer or the foster carer’s family, the board must act to alleviate the situation by arranging access to support services such as counselling” (Section 3.4)
Private Counselling Services
You may prefer to source emotional support in a private capacity. IFCA can assist in signposting to appropriate resources in your area, although any agreements entered or services engaged are of an independent and private arrangement. Please see the section on Psychological Support for more information on Counselling/Psychological Services.