The Secure Base Model

The Secure Base model provides a positive framework for therapeutic caregiving which helps infants, children and young people to move towards greater security and builds resilience. The model focuses on the interactions that occur between caregivers and children on a day to day, minute by minute basis within the caregiving environment. But it also considers how those relationships can enable the child to develop competence in the outside world of school, peer group and community.

It can be helpful, first, to think about caregiver/child interactions as having the potential to shape the thinking and feeling and ultimately the behaviour of the child.

This process begins with the child’s needs and behaviour and then focuses on what is going on in the mind of the caregiver. How a caregiver thinks and feels about a child’s needs and behaviour will determine his or her caregiving behaviours. The caregiver may draw on their own ideas about what children need or what makes a good parent from their own experiences or from what they have learned from training. The caregiving behaviours that result convey certain messages to the child. The child’s thinking and feeling about themselves and other people will be affected by these messages and there will be a consequent impact on his or her development. We have chosen to represent this process in a circular model, the caregiving cycle, which shows the inter-connectedness of caregiver/child minds and behaviour, as well as their ongoing movement and change.

Implications for practice

The Secure Base Model provides a framework for caregivers and for those who support them to think in more detail about the different but connected caregiving approaches that can help a child to move towards greater security. It is a positive, strengths-based approach that focuses on the interaction between the caregiver and the child, but also considers how that relationship can enable the child to develop competence in the outside world and manage often complex relationships with birth family members.


Uses of the Model

The Secure Base model can assist all professionals who work with children and families to think about the strengths and difficulties of caregivers and their children. The model may be adapted to be used with the full range of caregivers, including birth parents, kinship carers, foster carers, adoptive parents and residential workers. It is applicable to children and young people at any stage of development and with the full range of abilities.

Some applications of the model are as follows:



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