About the Family Law Week blog

The Family Law Week Blog is a companion site to Family Law Week. It complements the news, cases and articles published on Family Law Week with additional comment and coverage of the wider aspects of family law.

The Blog is edited by Jacqui Gilliatt, of 4 Brick Court and Lucy Reed, of St Johns Chambers.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009


I am increasingly frustrated by the seeming inability of local authorities to organise any kind of therapeutic help for children in care, but particularly puzzled by the insistence within the local authority of 'exhausting' the CAMHS option before making any other kinds of referral. It has been my universal experience that CAMHS will refuse to offer any kind of service to families as long as proceedings are on foot on the basis that therapy - or at least the therapy they offer - is best embarked on when children are settled in placement. Furthermore CAMHS will never provide reports for court purposes and are not usually willing even to provide oral feedback to independent experts. I am sure there are all sorts of good reasons for the CAMHS approach but my point is that it is a well known one and LAs seem to waste an awful lot of time asking them to take a different approach which they must know will meet with refusal. Is it really not possible to identify some kind of therapeutic resource which can be offered to children at least to help them through the (increasingly long) period of time that they are in the care system before decisions about permanence can be made?


Shaun O'Connell said...

CAMHS are, like many other so-called therapy services, permitted like all other State bodies to use their own chosen theories without any sanction whether the theory is valid, appropriate or that it can be proven to exist.

Further, in a recent case CAMHS report was chosen by the LA to be disclosed to the Court without the permission of CAMHS LAC team and when the methodology used to determine 'attachment disorder' was absurd.

CAMHS via PCT legal team tried to get the report removed from the Court record. Am looking forward to cross-examining the Authors of the report.

ian josephs said...

What a great many families need is not therapy,but the return of the children to their parent(s)
Removing children and worse still new born babies for "risk of emotional abuse" is in itself a crime and those who inflict it on loving but less than perfect families are themselves in need of therapy or failing that jail !!

Shaun O'Connell said...

Following on from earlier comment it may also be relevant that National advisory Council on children's mental health and well-being [relying on CAMHS] and infiltration of schools by Psychiatrists is all underway and almost in place. Add in the Court of Protection and we have the Public watched from cradle to grave. Dare say the drug companies will have their input too.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Ian but many times returning children to their parents now longer an option. Furthermore how much time would you give a parent to "sort" themselves out? This isn't about the parents but about the best interest of the child.

Anonymous said...


It is 55% of social workers who need sorting out- with their own unresolved issues unhealed which they project onto service users.

Who is to say that all ideas of social workers are right?

Since when did they become Gods?

Best interests of the child is just the same language Hitler used when exterminating undesirable children, so they would not breed in the future.

The undesirables were the true human beings who had the spark of LOVE.

First hand knowledge of CAMHS- the ones we dealt with wanted nothing to do with social workers, stating that the social workers involved were creating worse problems for the children. The reason was social workers wanted Total Control.it is the same with advocates- so much so that advocates have to bring watchers with them in case social workers are hanging about trying to intimidate the children- lest the truth come out.

CAMHS worked with the mother and the children and the outcome was excellent.

Removing the children is what causes the biggest trauma and soul destruction, which if anyone wants to read Primal Wound and other research from Australia- clearly showing the life long damage to the baby and the mother.

This trauma leads to multiple personalities- which is perfect if the state agents want control.

There is an old saying- to love a child is to love the mother- creator of that child.

Shaun- yes the theory of attachment is all theory- not scientific- as they try to say that the natural bond between a parent and child can be replaced when the child is sent to live with strangers.

Hitler had the same idea- keep the feeling of LOVE out of the lives of children-so he could have total control over them. The state is the new Patriarch.

Social workers etc are merely conditioned to believe that what they are doing is right, despite all the evidence from history- that it is wrong and inhuman.

Most of the social workers I have encountered have no souls- therefore no feelings, no conscience, never known the feeling of love- so have absolutely no idea what we are speaking of.

Anonymous said...

I came across this old post looking and I thought I’d add a reply from a CAMHS perspective to get a bit of a dialogue started between our different understandings. I work in a Tier 4 (National & Specialist) CAMHS service for adopted and fostered children, which is not quite the same as a local LAC service or a CLAMHS, but does work with them. Of course we do see children who are in care and also those who sometimes fall through the gap, e.g., currently subject to care proceedings where their future placements are unknown. Some services appear to want placement stability to be evident before beginning assessing/intervening for mental health/wellbeing issues and while this might be ideal, services’ failure to provide stability should not bar a child from accessing assessment and treatment – these kids are often the most needy in any case. It is quite possible to provide a helpful service for this group, following appropriate best-practice models (see guidelines by Chaffin et al, 2006 in Child Maltreatment), if the service is geared towards working in that way.

We provide intensive multidisciplinary assessment, within the NHS, usually in one session with a care plan provided at the end of the day, usually in a professionals meeting and where indicated some interventions can even start the next day – but having said that we typically offer short-term and evidence-based treatments focussed on specific problems and not the frequently requested [and IMO rarely indicated on the basis of current evidence] generic ‘long-term intensive psychotherapy to deal with their difficulties’ etc. We can do this for local cases ourselves within our clinic or with CLAMHS as appropriate and for national cases provide recommendations for similar EBTs to be undertaken locally. I could give a brief example of how this would work. For now I will mention some of the problems we as a CAMHS service have with family law professionals, and how we both need to find ways to communicate more effectively.

A recent case has come to our service in which a child has been in a long-drawn out care proceedings and the GAL has recognised that the child needs a clinical assessment independent of the other issues. We have agreed to see the child and current carers, perform a clinical assessment and provide recommendations for his care – we are also happy to have this inform his care planning and to help the other professionals in the relevant networks think about how his clinical needs could inform this thinking and to meet with them to discuss this in a formal setting. Having been clear that we are not providing expert opinion for Court we now receive, as so often happens, an unsolicited huge half metre high bundle of unsorted paperwork and a LOI that is as long as it is incoherent as it is irrelevant to the clinical assessment. To us this can feel like a ‘back door’ request for a Court Report, but a more charitable interpretation is that it reflects a habitual response in the solicitors of dealing with clinicians via LOIs. I can understand the mistake – we are professionals skilled in the relevant area, as individuals we do sometimes provide Expert opinion in similar cases outside of the clinic, and some of our clinicians have also worked in the dedicated NHS Court Assessment service within our Hospital. But this piece of clinical work is different work, that provides different information under different frameworks with different costings. Our standard fixed-price assessments can easily cost referrers (e.g. NHS PCTs or social services etc.) 10 or 20 times less than MDT Court reports, but there are very good reasons for that. I could explain in detail but this is not the place, but at the very least, there is no way we can read through bundles of Court papers or make sense of LOIs and still provide effective clinical assessments for a high number of children in urgent need of them.

Trekking said...

It is a worry that CAMHS are using their own brand of approach without any sanctions and without any testing having been done prior to application. Mental health issues may not be served best and the community must take action.