Simply Fostering


Brenda McLackland Consultant Clinical Psychologist

Brenda Foster carer

Psychological input: stigma or status symbol

I’m not immune to the stigma that still exists in coming to see a Clinical Psychologist but to me it now seems a bit last century. I wish as a society we could acknowledge that we all have a psychological or emotional life.

It is normal to go through a range of feelings throughout life and sometimes like any other part of the body – they need attention. Further in common with physical symptoms, the longer you leave psychological problems the worse potentially they can become.

I guess this is why most of my consultations with Foster Carers are conducted when they are in crisis, when seeing me cannot be put off another day!

At this point my job involves containing the intense emotions generated before I can address the problem. These intense feelings also have consequences – this is the point where placement breakdown often occurs. This is bad for the child the carers and the agency. So why do we allow it to happen?

At the other extreme our friends across the pond see a psychologist as a status symbol rather than a stigma symbol. Not that I would advocate that approach either.

Is there a middle ground where feelings are accepted as part of the human experience and no more to be avoided than breathing!

In my work with Foster Carers, I suggest early meetings, preferably during the assessment process. Even when these meetings are made routine and normal Foster Carers are still initially reluctant to meet me.

I think to do so is to admit problems, not coping or being a failure. However for me the reverse is nearer the truth. Having the confidence, maturity and honesty to identify that you might benefit from a psychological understanding of your situation is a sign that you have acknowledged the difficult task that you have taken on and shown a healthy desire to find ways to cope with it and succeed!

Brenda McLackland
Consultant Clinical Psychologist

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