Therapeutic Family Model Of Care™

The Lighthouse Therapeutic Family Model of Care™  is a robust, replicable, evidence based integrated model of therapeutic care. It is based on attachment theory and addresses the biological and psychological need of individuals to bond with and relate to primary caregivers as fundamental to the survival and future development of human beings.

Each young person is encouraged to be active in school, work and personal development, while undertaking programs to address individual barriers. The continuing support and access to these programs from within the home and on an outreach basis ensures that a sense of belonging within a community is maintained and strengthened.

Overview of Model – wellness needs

  1. Individual Wellness
  2. Relational Wellness
  3. Community Wellness

Measuring Effectiveness

The vast majority of our young people have stabilised in their mental health, addictions and other symptoms of trauma and have progressed into employment and/or education, developed supportive relationships and secured active membership into the broader community.
The measureable outcomes of the program are:
• Stabilisation of the physical and psychological health
• Rehabilitation and prevention of alcohol and other substance abuse
• Reduction is risk taking behaviours
• Improved rates of participation in transitional programs, such as education/employment/training
• Improvements ability to build healthy and sustainable relationships
• Successful transition from the program to independent forms of living
• Improved sense of relational and community connectedness
• Improved sense of autonomy and development of life skills


Theoretical Underpinning

Attachment Theory

Describes the biological and psychological need to bond with and relate to primary caregivers as fundamental to the survival of human beings. The ability to trust and to relate to others is established in infancy to early childhood through the quality of the infant/primary caregiver relationship which influences and shapes development and behaviour in later life.

Attachment Theory suggests that there are four key characteristics of ‘attachment’:

  • Proximity Maintenance – the desire to be near the people who are attached to;
  • Safe Haven – returning to the attachment figure for comfort and safety in the face of a threat;
  • Secure Base – the attachment figure acts as a secure base from which the child can explore the surrounding environment; and
  • Separation Anxiety – anxiety that occurs in the absence of the attachment figure.

(Bowlby 1969; Becker-Weidman & Shell 2005; Bretherton 2007; Hardy 2007; Sonkin 2005)

Object Relations Theory

This suggests that a prime motivational drive in every individual is to form relationships with others. The style of relationship that develops in early childhood becomes part of an internal blueprint or a learned way of relating to others that is replicated when we establish and maintain future relationships, which impact on our sense of identity.  Young people from a deprived background may have difficulty in forming and maintaining constructive and healthy relationships with others. The more traumatic their early experience the more self-destructive some of their interpersonal relationships can be

(Dockar-Drysdale 1991; Scharff & Scharff 1991; Winnicott 1953).

Psychological Wellness Theory

The theory is a psycho-ecological concept that highlights the importance of promoting favourable conditions that nurture the personal (individual), relational (group), and collective (community) wellbeing of individuals. Overall psychological wellness can only be achieved through the combined presence of personal, relational and collective wellbeing. The Lighthouse TFMC™ supports the Young People to develop wellness in all these areas, by providing holistic therapeutic care

(Prilleltensky & Nelson, 2000).

Neurobiology and Trauma Research

This has shown how the brain develops, under what conditions and how the brain manages behaviour and emotions.  Much of what we have learnt has supported long-standing knowledge about the centrality of secure attachment in child development.  Through this knowledge we have learnt much about the way that trauma, abuse and neglect impact on the developing brain.  We have learnt more precisely how traumatic experience can, under certain circumstances, damage the brain’s development as well as the approaches that can be put into place to create healing

(Kolk, McFarlane & Weisaeth, 2007; Perry, 2006).

Theory Successfully Applied

The TFMC™ has incorporated the above theories into a model of human development and needs-based clinical care (Barton et al, 2011).

The family setting, the one-on-one relationship with a Carer and the involvement of other specialists, provide the Young Person with a safe, supportive and understanding environment. Here they can confront and deal with maladaptive and destructive patterns of relating, and learn how to form and sustain positive and reciprocal relationships with others – a hallmark of healthy and autonomous adulthood.