Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP) for Dementia

At Family Affect we are introducing a brand new service that supports people with dementia and their carers. This new therapy is a revolutionary way of connecting with people with dementia and offering support for their carers and loved ones.

The therapy is underpinned with DDP and the principles of our own model (CAKE) Compassion, curiosity, Acceptance, attunement, Kindness, knowing, Empathy, engagement (inspired by Dan Hughes’ PLACE which was developed for children who have experienced trauma).

A key component of the work is storytelling. The therapist will follow the stories of the individual to help to relieve the symptoms of frustration, confusion and shame which are often associated with dementia. Throughout history, seniors have been humanity’s consummate storytellers. After all, the older we get, the more experiences we’ve had, and the more stories we have to tell. But, what happens when your loved one begins to lose their hard-won narratives to Alzheimer’s, or another form of dementia? As their carer or loved one should you attempt the seemingly futile task of trying to help your loved one fill in the gaps. Or as so often happens try to correct the non – linear story, which only seems to result in further confusion and shame.

The therapist will offer the individual a safe place where they will feel accepted. Stories and Storytelling is at the heart of DDP and they are also a gentle way to connect with each other and make sense of the experience we are exploring. Stories are also part of being human and our social experience. Stories emerge, either formally or informally, as together, emotion is regulated and experience is explored. Storytelling brings the reflective (content of the story) together with the affective (experience of the story). Our therapy is different than life story and reminiscence work as it replaces the pressure to remember with the freedom to imagine.

Integral to the work is that we also offer carers, spouses or loved ones individual time with a therapist to share their concerns and perceptions of their complex emotions and difficulties. The Dyadic nature of our work makes it an inclusive therapy. The carer can continue to practice by using the learnt techniques when they return to their day to day lives of caring for their loved one.

What we believe the therapy can achieve is:

  • Reduced anxiety and stress for the person with dementia.
  • Reduced stress for the carer or loved one.
  • A safe space where both the person with dementia and the carer can feel accepted and having their feelings validated.
  • An active, interpersonal and fun space—not “talk therapy”
  • Person with dementia and carer feeling less isolated and more connected.
  • An improvement in mood, well being and improvement in some mental abilities such as memory.
  • By listening to the stories it can raise self esteem and self worth as it focus’s on the interesting and varied life that the individual has had and not what the illness has taken away.
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