Statement of purpose
Relational Third is an equal partnership of three experienced and dual-registered psychotherapists and Social Workers.
Our organisational aims are –
- to provide direct psychotherapeutic and social work interventions to vulnerable children and their families, particularly in relation to domestic abuse,
- to provide expert risk assessment, comprehensive individual and family assessment, and care planning recommendations to the family courts and other tribunals, and
- to improve the social care workforce’s ability to reduce the likelihood and impact of harm to children and young people from emotional, physical, sexual abuse and neglect while increasing their chances of remaining safely within their family networks.
We are intervening in the context of high risk interactions between parents, carers, and children and young people, and advising other professionals how to intervene in such contexts, and so we are constantly assessing and weighing risk in our work.
Policy Statement (including equalities statement)
Relational Third believes that everyone in our community has a responsibility to promote the welfare of all children, young people, and vulnerable adults, to contribute towards keeping them safe and to practise in a way that protects individual’s rights. We give equal priority to keeping all children and young people safe regardless of their age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation.
We emphasise the use of skilled professional judgement in the assessing of, and intervening in relation to, risk.
We are publicly committed to improving statutory safeguarding practice with children and families. Our website (www.relationalthird.com) and social media presence (@relationalthird) reinforce this commitment.
Relational Third will comply with all statutory and mandatory reporting requirements.
(1) National Referral Mechanism in relation to modern day slavery: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/human-trafficking-victims-referral-and-assessment-forms/guidance-on-the-national-referral-mechanism-for-potential-adult-victims-of-modern-slavery-england-and-wales#the-referral-process
(2) reports of, or concerns about, FGM to a young person under 18 years: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/525405/FGM_mandatory_reporting_map_A.pdf
(3) concerns of extremist radicalisation: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/prevent-duty-guidance/revised-prevent-duty-guidance-for-england-and-wales
We are based in London, and where relevant, we draw on publicly available pan-London guidance to inform our position.
Relational Third is a commissioned service and we will normally follow the safeguarding processes and procedures of commissioning organisations. We will routinely request a copy of commissioners’ safeguarding children and adult policies and review these in the process of contracting work. Where a commissioning organisation’s policy and/or practice position differs from our own position in a way we think is relevant to our practice with families, we will seek to engage in a dialogue with commissioners about this. We take the view that in this complex and demanding field of work there is scope for some differences in approach, for respectful listening to the concerns of others, for learning from others and practice development. Understanding and mutual trust are essential element in multi-agency and multi-disciplinary working in safeguarding contexts and we actively seek to build and maintain understanding, trust and professional respect with colleagues.
Relational Third seek to maintain the highest professional standards, and to be accountable to clients and commissioners for the work we do.
Relational Third’s partners maintain valid DBS checks, with original certificates and copies available on request.
Relational Third’s partners maintain dual registration with UKCP (https://www.psychotherapy.org.uk/find-a-therapist/) and with SWE (https://www.socialworkengland.org.uk/umbraco/surface/searchregister/results). Ongoing registration requires evidence of continuing professional development and adequate clinical supervision.
As a partnership with a special interest in working in contexts of domestic abuse we are committed to regular peer supervision, to challenging each other’s clinical thinking and judgement, and to making positive use of external and independent supervision by an acknowledged expert in the field.
Relevant legislation: Children Act (1989), Children Act (2004), The Data Protection Act (2018), The Equality Act (2010), The Human Rights Act (1998)
Relevant statutory guidance: Working Together to Safeguard Children (2018)
Relational Third provides direct psychotherapeutic services to children and their families as commissioned by a local authority (or similar public institution) or by private contractual arrangement. The principle source of risk to children in our day-to-day professional activity is the possibility of poor professional judgement, such as an inadequate assessment of risk.
We will endeavour at all times to work in a collaborative and transparent manner with children and their families. When families are already known to Children’s Social Care or Early Intervention services the purpose and outcome of Relational Third’s activity will be clearly agreed with children (when appropriate), young people and families and the lead professional through the use of a goal-based agreement within the broader remit of reducing future risk of harm to children, young people, and parents or carers.
Responding to emerging safeguarding concerns
Concerns about the progress towards agreed goals will be shared with the family and lead professional for the family and may be discussed by us in our external our clinical supervision.
Revisions to plans for interventions should be agreed in a timescale appropriate to the level of concern (e.g. some concerns will require a same-day response, some concerns may be appropriate for review at the next multi-agency review meeting such as a core group or child in need meeting, etc.).
Relational Third will ensure case notes and/or summary reports outlining client contact, changes in risk and progress are available to the lead professional if requested, and where appropriate with the consent of parents.
When Relational Third contracts directly with parents and/or carers to offer a psychotherapeutic service (‘private work’), then safeguarding concerns about children will be referred to the ‘home’ Children’s Social Care service. We will always discuss concerns with parents and/or carers prior to making any referral, unless to do so would put someone at risk of significant harm.
In rare circumstances, were we believe a person or persons are at risk of immediate harm and/or injury, we may act to prevent harm and/or injury without first consulting with the persons involved (for example, by telephoning the police, contacting Social Care EDT, etc.). If we do this, then at the earliest opportunity we will arrange to meet with those affected to explain the reason for taking these actions.
Relevant legislation:Mental Capacity Act (2005), Mental Health Act (1983), The Care Act (2014), The Data Protection Act (2018), The Equality Act (2010), The Human Rights Act (1998)
Relational Third works predominantly in children’s services and contact with vulnerable adults may occur via this work. Relational Third also provides direct therapeutic services to couples who refer themselves to us directly (‘private work’).
By the term ‘vulnerable adult’ we understand that a person
- has needs for care and support,
- is currently experiencing abuse and neglect, or is assessed as being at risk of future abuse and/or neglect, and
- as a result of their needs for care and support the person is unable to protect themselves against the abuse, neglect, and/or the assessed risk of these in the future.
In all our contacts with families our practices will uphold the six principles of adult safeguarding as set out in the London Multi-agency Safeguarding Adult Policy and Procedures –
We use professional judgement when enacting these principles, and always with the understanding that the safety and wellbeing of the children in the family are our primary concern. In practice this means that Relational Third considers adult safeguarding concerns in relation to future risks that arise in the context of a family often imply a public or vital interest.
Responding to emerging safeguarding concerns
Adults’ right to make their own decisions and take risks on their own behalf will be respected when possible (empowerment, proportionate, partnership, accountability), so that we seek to balance the rights of individuals against the need to protect them and others from the consequences of exercising those rights. In the context of the family, children’s safety and well-being will be our principal concern.
In practice, in the context of offering an intervention intended to support clients to make changes in their lives, this means that we will always share concerns with the local authority’s adult services about vulnerable adults whose circumstances meets the threshold for an investigation under s.42 of the Care Act (2014), as set out above.
We will only refer potential crimes to the police with the agreement and consent of victims, unless not to report would place them, a child or children, or another person at risk of future significant harm.
Relational Third adopts the principles of the Mental Capacity Act (2005). In the unlikely event that during the course of our work with a family we become concerned that an adult or young person over 16 years lacks mental capacity to make informed decisions about the service they receive from Relational Third, then we will consult with the local authority’s adult services and may make a referral for a mental capacity assessment.
Training, coaching and consultation
These activities are designed to create a reflective opportunity with current casework routinely discussed in order to apply new theoretical ideas and evidence-based techniques in a safeguarding context. Training, coaching and consultation contexts are not forums for making case decisions.
When Relational Third’s ‘contact’ with children and families is undertaken in a coaching context, alongside case holding social workers who retain case responsibility, safeguarding concerns should be considered through the lens of enabling the case holder to take appropriate action.
Challenge is an important aspect of thinking about risk. Our practice routinely uses questioning to encourage reflexivity and group reflection processes to offer new perspectives on complex professional dilemmas. Common areas for challenge include learner’s overemphasis on personal judgement, and cultural and class bias in assessing risk in families from poor or BAME communities.
In these contexts if Relational Third becomes concerned about a child or vulnerable adults’s safety we will address this directly and respectfully in the moment. If safety concerns cannot be resolved in the moment, we will discuss the matter privately with the professional responsible for the case and ask that they discuss the matter with their line manager or supervisor (if different). We would then confirm that the line manager or supervisor have been made aware of the concern and agreed appropriate responses.
Situations may arise where we experience difficulties with, or have concerns about, the action or inaction of a commissioning agency or other partner agency in fulfilling their responsibilities as part of children and/or adult safeguarding arrangements.
Relational Third’s approach to such difficulties will always be in relation to (1) the safety and well-being of the person(s) involved, and (2) learning and practice improvement for ourselves and for colleagues. We seek resolution earliest and lowest possible level, within the shortest timescale possible to ensure that focus remains on promoting the well-being of clients and colleagues.
Relational Third will follow the escalations policy in operation locally and agreed by the Children or Adult Safeguarding Board, as appropriate.
Should be find ourselves in a situation with clients where we believe there is an immediate and significant risk of harm, we will act to ensure the safety of all concerned by, for example, contacting the emergency services, EDT, etc.
Allegations of inappropriate behaviour concerning Relational Third’s partners
Relational Third supports practices which seek to protect children, young people, and vulnerable adults from harm by professionals and maintain public confidence in the professions of social worker and psychotherapy. There are occasions when professionals act in ways that harm children, or that indicate the professional may pose a risk of harm to children. It is important that all such concerns are properly investigated.
We take the view that in this complex and demanding field of work there is scope for some differences in approach, for respectful listening to the concerns of others, for learning from others and practice development.
In the case of commissioned work for a public organisation, allegations of inappropriate behaviour on the part of Relational Third will be referred to the relevant Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO). Relational Third will invite any complainant or their advocate to make a referral and will cooperate with any and all investigations arising from such complaints. While any LADO investigation is ongoing Relational Third will comply with any and all recommendations concerning ongoing professional contact with clients.
Partners in Relational Third are governed by the codes of practice and codes of ethics of registering bodies. In the case of privately contracted work, when a client informs us that they are concerned about the behaviour, attitude, etc., of any partner then Relational Third seek to resolve this at the earliest opportunity. Another partner will offer to meet with the complainant to (1) better understand their concern, and (2) to explain how they can formally report their concern to a relvant registering body (e.g. SWE, UKCP).
We will endeavour to resolve concerns and complaints at the earliest opportunity, while also making clear, verbally and in writing, that the complainant can refer the matter to UKCP or SWE, or other appropriate body. We recognise that some clients may feel reluctant to talk with a partner in Relational Third, or in some other way bring their concern to our attention. When contracting privately with a client or clients, we will draw their attention to our policies and to the link on every page of our website for ‘Reporting Concerns’ which is located alongside our privacy and safeguarding policy links.
Should the complainant not wish to formally pursue the matter, and should any of the partners believe that the complaint constitutes a failure to uphold professional standards, then Relational Third will inform the relevant registering body that a complaint has been made and not formally pursued.
While any investigation is ongoing Relational Third will comply with any and all recommendations concerning ongoing professional contact with clients. We will seek to learn from the recommendations of any investigations, to improve our practice and our service to clients.