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The 3-5-7 Model
April 2014


Recently, many people have taken trips to visit their families to celebrate Easter or Passover, some returning to their childhood home.  Even if you had the privilege of growing up in a loving and secure home, for most of us returning home evokes a lot of emotion.  


Jerry M. Burger, Ph.D. has interviewed hundreds of people who have taken trips to visit their childhood homes.  He wrote about their stories in his book Returning Home: Reconnecting with Our Childhoods (Rowman & Littlefield, 2011).


Dr. Burger found that people make the trip to visit a childhood home to re-establish a psychological link between the child they once were and the person they are today, to help them deal with personal issues they were facing at the time, or to reflect on where their lives were going and to re-evaluate important decisions.


Nigel Rapport, University of St. Andrews in his book review (courtesy of Amazon) describes why these journeys to re-visit the past are often so beneficial:


"Professor Burger argues for home-visiting as a kind of 'place-therapy': for establishing a sense of connection with the past, dealing with current crises and concerns, and working on issues from the past that will not go away. While the passage of time threatens to fragment our senses of self, reconnecting with the sensory, physical environment of formative years effects a kind of emotional wholeness."

Many of you have dedicated a day to driving youth to their old neighborhoods, former foster homes, and other significant places and so this resonates with us as we practice the 3-5-7 Model©.  We recognize the need to understand and clarify life events, integrate the past with the current, understand what happened and explore the impact of past experiences on present circumstances.  It's a journey that we are privileged to observe.


Here's to enjoying the journey!



 To view more about Dr. Burger's work, click here.



How many times have you heard the phrase "She's just doing that for attention"?  How about this one: "He is manipulating the situation"? Well guess what, that's right!   Our youth are always trying to express their needs to us-- trying to get our attention so that we will respond to their need.   


Remember the attachment cycle: 

Each time the needs expressed are responded to, trust and security are established.  The ongoingness of this, on a consistent basis, provides for connection and attachment, ultimately becomes the establishment of a relationship between individuals in the attachment process. Should the cycle not be completed, or behaviors not be responded to, or the need not be satisfied, the cycle will not be completed and therefore the establishment of security and ultimately any relationship built between the individuals involved in this needs cycle fails.  For children who have been in the foster care or placement system and have been frequently moved, often their needs have been unmet and  the cycle is incomplete.  Therefore, we do not establish with our children/youth a sense that they can trust someone to respond to their needs.  They don't feel secure when a need is present and is satisfied, nor do they establish any sense of long term ongoing relationships, breaking the cycle of attachment and resulting in children feeling unsafe once again.   


So the next time you feel tempted to think "He's doing that for attention" or "She's trying to manipulate me", watch your language and instead ask yourself what needs are being expressed!



 When RESPONDING to our youth and families, we sometimes use a technique referred to as self-disclosure.  We may decide to use self-disclosure to convey understanding, to normalize the feelings of another, or to support the building of rapport and ultimately the strengthening of the relationship.

In an article written by Janine Roberts for Psychotherapy Networker, titled Think Before You Get Personal, the author suggests a set of questions that you can ask yourself to guide the decision to disclose or to not disclose: 
  • In what ways might this disclosure be helpful?
  • How can I reveal something briefly and then turn the conversation back to their concerns?
  • What viewpoints are embedded within this disclosure?
  • Are multiple ideas available to them within what I'm sharing?
  (See the full text of Janine Robert's article here.

Using self-disclosure about your own feelings and experiences in a manner that facilitates growth in the youth you are working with can be both appropriate and productive as the youth works to understand their own feelings experiences.  Conversely, using self-disclosure in a manner that meets our own need, diverting attention from the youth, can be harmful and counterproductive.  Remember to be mindful of your use of self-disclosure in your work.  Explore your questions about self-disclosure with colleagues and in supervision to be sure your use of this technique is appropriate.



Forever Fingerprints, 

by  Cole Puckett and Sherrie Eldridge 


For adopted children, learning about their beginnings and how they understand what that means to them is a process. It doesn't happen at one point in time, but rather throughout the experiences of life. In this heartwarming children's book, Forever Fingerprints uses a common occurrence a relative's pregnancy as a springboard for discussions on birthparents, where adopted children are before they are born, and how that makes one little girl feel about it.  Lucie is excited to feel a baby moving in her Aunt Grace s tummy but it makes her think of how she understands her adoption story in a different way. The tools offered in this book help her to create a unique connection to her birthparents, allow how she is feeling to surface and to be discussed, and give Lucie's parents the chance to reinforce their love for her, to empathize with her feelings and to honor her past. This book resonates with 7 year olds and adults who have discovered that the feelings and emotions are shared by so many. While it looks like a simple children's book, this book helps parents and children create a family connection and strong foundation for discussing adoption questions. It's a veritable toolbox for adoptive families with a parent guide at the end of the book on how to open adoption discussion and a wonderful connection to birthparents for every adopted person, regardless of their age, with their fingerprints.


-Photo and description courtesy of Amazon.com


Optimizing Home Visits


This month we'd like to explore a perceived barrier that is often raised-the dilemma of time (or better lack thereof).  We often hear from you that you want to engage youth in 3-5-7 Model© work, but that you feel challenges to find the extra time to accomplish this. 

As described in the Child Welfare League of America's Field Guide to Child Welfare, the purposes and goals of home visits include:

  • Providing Children with Opportunities to Talk about Placement and Their Feelings
  • Helping Children Develop a Story to Explain the Reasons for Placement
  • Helping Children Maintain Continuity and Identity

A worker in rural Nevada recently described to us how she started applying 3-5-7 Model© concepts in her work with a teenage boy who she'd been working with for over a year.  She described how he would often seem anxious to get home visits over with; he gave very short answers to her questions, folded his arms across his chest, and seemed relieved when she would end visits with him.   


After 3-5-7 Model© training, the worker began to shift her practice.  She began by simply reflecting with the youth that she noticed that home visits did not seem to be working very well for the youth.  She explored with the youth that perhaps instead of limiting home visits to the standard questions about school, therapy, etc., that they try doing something different with their time.  He was immediately agreeable.  While initially he expressed it felt awkward, he began to open up to the worker through the use of activities like the Loss Line and Life Map.  This worker now gets answers to questions about therapy appointments and school progress from the resource parent, and spends her time with this young man supporting his Life Book work.  


After only a few home visits, this 15 year old boy is now re-engaging in activities that he previously was interested in, including participating in sports and using art as an outlet.  The worker describes the change in this young man as being as different as "night and day".   


Other ideas to consider:  What issues/concerns do you address during home visits?  Some of these may include:

  • School performance/concentration and attention issues
  • Discipline concerns
  • Foster parent stress
  • Challenging behaviors
  • Socialization with peers

What are you doing now to address these concerns?  Some tools you may be using likely include reasoning with child, lecturing, and negotiating for positive behaviors.  Using these techniques often seems to fall short and leaves us feeling like we haven't done much to help. 

What if you tired using 3-5-7 Model© concepts to guide the way you approach the concerns that present during your home visits?   

  • School performance/concentration and attention issues-recognize the child may be distracted by thoughts of loved ones and fears/anxieties about what may lie ahead, provide validation of feelings and provide as much truthful information as you can about next steps and decisions
  • Discipline concerns-refocus the foster parent on providing a safe environment, responding to expressions and building the relationship
  • Foster parent stress-encourage parent to recognize the importance of their role; that although it may feel as though little progress is being made their commitment to the youth is the ultimate path to healing
  • Challenging behaviors -recognize anger as a stage of loss/grief, recognize the hurt and provide a safe place for the expression of that hurt
  • Socialization with peers-engage the youth in activities that explore identify formation and relationship skills

Try it and let us know.   We'd love to hear from you - your success stories and your questions!


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©2014 Darla L. Henry & Associates
P.O. Box 4847 Harrisburg, Pa 17111-0847
dhenry@darlahenry.org   |   717-919-6286