Announcement November 1st

Blue Hills Child and Family Centre And The York Centre for Children, Youth and Families   ANNOUNCEME...


Children's Mental Health Week 2018

  CHILDREN'S MENTAL HEALTH WEEK 2018 Children's Mental Health Week is Taking Place May 7th-13th, 201...


Stronger Together to Serve Families

Blue Hills Child and Family Center and The York Centre for children, youth & families    ...

Transformation of Our Clinical Practices

Blue Hills has embarked on a transformative journey as a result of implementing the Strategic Plan, new research and changes in the field of child mental health. One of the cornerstones of this transformation has been the creation and implementation of our Integrated Organizational Framework for Clinical Practice. Ideally all clinically focused staff will arrive at Blue Hills with this theoretical knowledge, and any gaps will be filled during their orientation and ongoing work through specific agency curriculum, in-service training and/or staff attending external workshops. Each staff’s annual Performance Evaluation will include plans for their personal attainment of this theoretical knowledge.


A theory presents a systematic way of understanding events or situations. It is a set of concepts, definitions, and propositions that explain or predict these events or situations by illustrating the relationships between variables. Theories must be applicable to a broad variety of situations. Constructs are concepts developed or adopted for use in a particular theory. The key concepts of a given theory are its constructs. Each of these perspectives/approaches complements, rather than contradicts, one another.
All clinical service delivery at Blue Hills will be driven by the following theoretical constructs:

1. Attachment Theory:

Attachment theory describes the dynamics of long-term relationships between humans. Its most important tenet is that an infant needs to develop a relationship with at least one primary caregiver for social and emotional development to occur normally. Attachment theory is an interdisciplinary study encompassing the fields of psychological, evolutionary, and ethological theory.

2. Current Child Development:

An understanding of child development is essential, allowing us to understand the cognitive, emotional, physical, social and educational growth that children go through from birth and into early adulthood. Theories of development provide a framework for thinking about human growth, development, and learning. There are several theories to consider- psychoanalytic, cognitive and social.

3. Trauma Theory:

Trauma theory offers a framework for understanding the impact of experiences such as neglect, sexual, physical, and emotional abuse and their impact on development and relationships. Specifically, this theory helps us understand the importance of addressing the complex effects of trauma and toxic stress. 

4. Group Therapy:

Group psychotherapy or group therapy is a form of psychotherapy in which one or more therapists treat a small group of clients together as a group. The term can legitimately refer to any form of psychotherapy when delivered in a group format, including Cognitive behavioural therapy or Interpersonal therapy, but it is usually applied to psychodynamic group therapy where the group context and group process is explicitly utilized as a mechanism of change by developing, exploring and examining interpersonal relationships within the group. The broader concept of group therapy can be taken to include any helping process that takes place in a group, including support groups, skills training groups (such as anger management, mindfulness, relaxation training or social skills training), and psycho-education groups. There are differences between psychodynamic groups, activity groups, and support groups, problem-solving and psycho-educational groups. Other, more specialized forms of group therapy would include non-verbal expressive therapies such as dance therapy or music therapy.

5. Neurobiology:

In psychology, the Neurobiological or Neuroscience Approach involves understanding the intrinsic relationship between the body and the brain. The body and brain together creates emotions, memories, and sensory experiences (such as touch, taste, visual, hearing, and smell). Human beings are geared toward social acceptance in their innermost neurobiological drives and motivations. This is the reason why we are willing to take pains to receive the appreciation of our fellow humans. The brain experiences social exclusion or humiliation as it would physical pain. As a result, it responds with aggression (or depression), as it would respond to inflicted pain. Humans have a physically (neurobiologically) anchored feeling of social fairness. In our approach to mental health it is imperative that we consider and understand the role that the brain plays in our work.

6. Milieu Theory:

Underpinned by psychodynamic principles, the aim of milieu therapy is to provide a ‘total’ social environment in a group living setting (often referred to as a therapeutic community) which meets the physical and emotional needs of those who live there. It is an approach which has been used in mental health settings as well as in the field of residential child care. 

A residential institution providing milieu therapy sets up an environment in which everyday events and interactions are used therapeutically for the purpose of building up the emotional confidence and enhancing the social skills of those who are placed there. The milieu, or "life space," provides a safe environment that is rich with social opportunities. It is not a static environment but it is flexible and dynamic while remaining focused on the need to provide experiences which will create opportunities for personal development. To do this it uses common structures such as daily routines, consistent rules and activities.

The milieu or "life space" is set up in such a way that it is constantly supportive. It contains and supports the young person while he or she works through unresolved relationship difficulties, learns to solve problems and develops coping skills. At the same the milieu is a safe place for these developments to be worked through, practiced and integrated into the young person’s growing catalogue of life strategies.

Therapeutic modality in which the role of the environment in promoting mastery and a sense of integrity- and the use of group and group process together with therapeutic programming are vehicles for personal change. Group decision making integrating the role of the child contributes to the improved sense of individuality. 

7. Cultural Competency and Sensitivity:

Cultural competence is a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency or among professionals and enable that system, agency or those professions to work effectively in cross-cultural situations.
The word culture is used because it implies the integrated pattern of human behavior that includes thoughts, communications, actions, customs, beliefs, values and institutions of a racial, ethnic, religious or social group. The word competence is used because it implies having the capacity to function effectively.
Five essential elements contribute to a system's institutions or agency's ability to become more culturally competent which include:

  1. Valuing diversity 
  2. Having the capacity for cultural self-assessment 
  3. Being conscious of the dynamics inherent when cultures interact 
  4. Having institutionalized culture knowledge 
  5. Having developed adaptations to service delivery reflecting an understanding of cultural diversity 
These five elements should be manifested at every level of an organization including policy making, administrative, and practice. Further these elements should be reflected in the attitudes, structures, policies and services of the organization. 

8. Systems Theory:

Systems theory has been proposed as a potential overarching framework for dealing with many issues in human behavior. Contributors to systems theory have come from many diverse fields, including physics (Capra, 1982), biology, anthropology and psychology (Bateson, 1979). The work on living systems by D. Ford (1987) and M. Ford and D. Ford (1987) has served to develop an integrated framework of human development and has furthered the development and understanding of systems theory. Developmental Systems Theory (DST, D. Ford & Lerner, 1992) and Motivational Systems Theory (MST; M. Ford, 1992) have illustrated the applicability of systems theory principles to human behavior.

The family systems theory is a theory introduced by Dr. Murray Bowen that suggests that individuals cannot be understood in isolation from one another, but rather as a part of their family, as the family is an emotional unit. Families are systems of interconnected and interdependent individuals, none of whom can be understood in isolation from the system.

9. Family Therapy:

Family therapy, also referred to as couple and family therapy, family systems therapy, and family counseling, is a branch of psychotherapy that works with families and couples in intimate relationships to nurture change and development. It tends to view change in terms of the systems of interaction between family members. It emphasizes family relationships as an important factor in psychological health.

The different schools of family therapy have in common a belief that, regardless of the origin of the problem, and regardless of whether the clients consider it an "individual" or "family" issue, involving families in solutions is often beneficial. This involvement of families is commonly accomplished by their direct participation in the therapy session. The skills of the family therapist thus include the ability to influence conversations in a way that catalyzes the strengths, wisdom, and support of the wider system.

10. Psycho-education theory (individual, parent, family and community)

Many different interventions for individuals with mental health disorders fit under the banner of psychosocial educational interventions. These interventions seek to bestow therapeutic, cognitive and sociability benefits through education, goal setting, skill teaching, challenging thinking patterns, and social interaction. To be effective and long-term, behavior change strategies must include cognitive (thinking), affective (feelings), and behavioral aspects.

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