Tag Archives: Sally Donovan

Therapeutically Parenting Teens, book review time

Julie Selwyn’s groundbreaking report into adoption breakdown  found that around one third of adoptions pass smoothly, around a third of families were mostly getting on OK but with ups and downs, and the other third were having significant difficulties. If you’ve found it as far as my website then I’m assuming you’re probably not in the first third, and if that’s the case you may well be interested in what Sally Donovan has to say in her latest book: The Unofficial Guide to Therapeutic Parenting, The Teen Years.

Picking up where the earlier guide left off, Sally’s children are now very definitely teenagers, and she shares the wisdom and advice that she has accumulated and tested in the safety of her home. (Yes – there is an emphasis on ensuring that home is a safe place for all.) The material is distinctly heavy at times, but the tone is light in a way that does not minimize the issues but makes it possible to read without running away in horror. There is a focus particularly on the continuing and damaging impact of trauma, which is amplified by the teenage brain’s rewiring exercise; and also on the realities of the internet and social media – a foreign country for most parents even now. Separate chapters cover siblings, education, self-care, and practical tips for family and professionals. The really scary stuff, which you hope will not affect most families, has its own chapter, for those who want or need to know about the grooming of vulnerable young people, and exploitation within the drugs world; as does the realities of supporting a young person when they have to move out into independent living.

There are images and ideas that will stick with me for a long time, and teasers too. I will never look at a North Face jacket in the same way again, and I will drink herbal tea in future with a little more irony!

Sally is keen that there should be hope shining through and I believe she has achieved this; but for hope to survive, there needs to be understanding from friends, family and professionals, walking alongside. If more people read books such as this, then this hope can live.

Sally and I met recently at the Jessica Kingsley Publishers headquarters, to record a podcast for subscribers to the JKP newsletter. You can listen to our discussions here.


The Unofficial Guide to Therapeutic Parenting, The Teen Years

Sally Donovan

Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2019



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New Year, New Reading

I have recently been sent links to new and additional published articles in the field of adolescent to parent abuse; and have updated the Reading List page accordingly.

A paper by Caroline Miles and Rachel Condry, Adolescent to parent violence: the police response to parents reporting violence from their children, further develops the discussion arising from the findings of their three-year research project. This paper specifically examines police responses and suggests a way forward that offers support and restorative action for families. (Abstract here.)

Declan Coogan has a paper entitled Responding to Child-to-Parent Violence: Innovative Practices in Child and Adolescent Mental Health, in the Health and Social Work Journal, Special Issue: Child and Adolescent Health. (Abstract here) He considers obstacles in the recognition of, and response to, child to parent violence, and proposes the Non Violent Resistance Programme as a positive way forward.

Sally Donovan’s second book about the experiences of adoptive parenting, The Unofficial Guide,  offers a further raw and powerful account of living with children traumatised by earlier life. She offers practical steps and guidance for parents, but the book is well worth reading for anyone involved in the adoption or CPV field.

I’ve also tidied up the links to the Family Lives / Parentline reports as I have been told they have been difficult to find on the website. Hopefully that is now improved.

Please do let me know about any other books or articles to add to the list. It is not exhaustive by any means, and certainly does not include early work, which I should get round to adding at some point!

In the meantime, Happy Reading!

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Child to Parent Violence: The Adoption Issue

A couple of years ago I was asked to write something about child to parent violence with reference to adoptive families. For a variety of reasons I wrote something with an entirely different focus, and in retrospect I’m glad I did. I had met and interviewed an adoptive mother as part of my Masters research but, while acknowledging that an adopted child might bring issues from their early life to a new family, I had no real understanding at that time of early trauma and its effect on attachment and behaviour. Continue reading


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