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This training allows access to, and licensed use of, the Safe and Meaningful Contact Guidelines.

  • Prior to the course participants will be given access to a 1 hour introductory video

  • The live online training will take place over two half-days 9.30am - 12.30pm on 20 and 21 June 2022

  • Participants receive access to the online Safe and Meaningful Contact Guidelines App

  • A 90 minute follow-up session is included two months post the training for participants to ask questions about their use of the guidelines in practice

The Safe and Meaningful Contact Guidelines provide an evidence-based framework that:

  • Informs recommendations and decision making about contact arrangements for children in local authority or permanent care arrangements,

  • Organises information about the child, carer and birth relative around the potential of contact to achieve purposes associated with the child or young person’s developmental recovery,

  • Identifies how contact can be appropriately supported and managed to ensure it safely benefits the child or young person’s recovery from traumatic life experiences,

  • Offers a universal process for practitioners to evidence clinical reasoning about contact arrangements.

Is contact safe and meaningful for the child?

This evidence-based training draws on contemporary attachment theory and the latest research into childhood trauma to consider the potential of contact as a resource to facilitate the child’s developmental recovery. It explains the Safe and Meaningful Contact (SaMC) guidelines (Burke and Woodhouse, 2021) which identify key information decision makers require in order to make trauma-informed decisions related to the child’s contact arrangements. The course helps participants:

  • Understand how contact has the potential to help or hinder the child’s recovery from past trauma;

  • Use the Safe and Meaningful Contact (SaMC) guidelines that identify clinical information decision makers require to determine whether contact is safe and meaningful to the child;

  • Identify factors associated with the child, birth relative and carer that determine the potential benefits and risks of contact;

  • Identify the support needs of the child, birth relative and carer to ensure contact maximises its potential to facilitate the child’s recovery needs.

Who is the training for?

  • Legal decision makers can use the SaMC guidelines to determine whether they have the information required to make trauma informed decisions related to the child’s contact arrangements;

  • Practitioners such as social workers and mental health professionals can use the SaMC guidelines to identify support needs to ensure contact is maximising its potential to play a role in the child’s developmental recovery;

  • The SaMC guidelines can be used to help birth relatives and carers (such as adopters, kinship carers, special guardians, and foster carers) understand the benefits and risks associated with what contact means to their child.

Chartered Clinical Psychologist

Dr Chris Burke

Chris is a Clinical Psychologist who specialises in developmental trauma. In his capacity as an expert witness in child and family law, Chris frequently offers psychological opinion about contact and residential arrangements and gives evidence in court. Chris attained his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Edinburgh University in 2003. He has pre and post-doctorate qualification experience working in both the NHS and the private sector with adults and children experiencing psychological distress.


Independent Social Worker

Sally Wassell

Sally is an Independent Social Worker with more than 40 years experience of work with children and families in local authorities and third sector agencies. She worked as a consultant trainer for BAAF in Scotland and was a local authority manager in fostering and adoption. Sally has been instructed in court cases in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland over the past 25 years reporting on issues such as attachment, plans for permanence and contact. She has written with colleagues on attachment, resilience and child development. Currently, Sally offers training and consultancy to social workers, carers, adoption and fostering panel members and those making decisions about children within the legal system in Scotland.

Other courses available.

Online anytime training, webinars, live onsite events.

For additional information or enquiries contact Dr Chris Burke:

Tel: +44 7751062317