Psychotherapy for Attachment, Trauma and Dissociation

 London Mayfair and Glasgow |  077 7327 7327 |

Emotional Containment

Often the concept of emotional containment is misunderstood and not considered or thought about enough to harness for the benefit of staff, foster carers or school staff working within Organisations seeking to deliver trauma informed care. This can be considered the holding or containing milieu which enables the staff working with children and young people the corrective emotionally sensitive responsively to enable the appropriate expression of challenges and difficulties.


The notion of containment was first introduced by Wilfred Bion in 1962 and this helpfully in my opinion, parallels the process which the staff need to be able to provide through maintaining a state of emotional availability, to the children being cared for within foster or residential child care:

  1. The infant projects the unmanageable feelings onto the primary care giver,
  2. Who in turn reflects them back such that they become more tolerable for the infant.
  3. Continual process of hearing and absorbing cries of fear, anger, hunger and discomfort and responding accordingly comprises early experiences of containment.

When considering trauma focused interventions for children who are looked after, it is crucial to consider and continually review the effectiveness of the support structures required to ensure effective 'emotional' care and containment is provided to the front line staff to ensure they remain grounded and able to provide their emotional availability to the children and young people whom they are working with.


Simply put we need to care for the staff so they can effectively care for the children.

The risk of vicarious trauma or burn out is all to evident in organisations who seek to support children and young people, high staff turnover and low moral would be just some of the signs which would indicate that the 'containing support systems' need to be thought about.

I have developed a tool kit which can assist organisations which consist of a series of planned meetings which take place within a culture which is trauma informed. This allows for a series of functions which 'ground' the practitioners through normalising and understanding transference and counter transference, psych-education and validation of the work being undertaken.


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