The Narrative Model for communicating with children about challenging issues:

When children enter care they are often left with many questions that are challenging for adults to discuss with them: why am I in care, why do I live here, when can I go home? Left unanswered, children can have great difficulty experiencing psychological safety, adjusting to their new circumstances and accepting the care being offered to them.  Dr William Coman and some colleagues have developed a model for communicating with children about difficult issues such as entry to care, transitions to new placements and permanence that promotes psychological safety for the child and congruence in the caregiver network. Anecdotal evidence suggests the model is helpful for the children and all involved in their care as indicated by reductions in placement strain and feedback from carers, social workers and birth parents. 

A Poster outlining the components of the Narrative Model
Adobe Acrobat document [1.2 MB]

The model is outlined in the following articles: 

Coman, W., Dickson, S., McGill, L. & Rainey, M. (2016).
Why am I in care? A model for communicating with children in care that promotes psychological safety and adjustment. Adoption & Fostering, Vol. 40 (1), 49-59
Adoption Fostering-2016-Coman-49-59.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [142.4 KB]
Coman W, Dickson, S, McGill, L and Rainey, M (2017)
Using narratives with children in care to communicate about challenging issues. Context 152 : 36-38.
Adobe Acrobat document [209.8 KB]
McGill, L., Coman, W., McWhirter, J. & O Sullivan, C. (2018).
Social workers' experiences of using the Narrative Model to talk to children about why they are in care and other sensitive issues. Adoption & Fostering, 42(1), 49-57
Adobe Acrobat document [128.4 KB]
Coman, W., McGill, L. & Rainey, M. (2020)
The Narrative Model for Communicating with looked After Children about challenging issues. Adoption & Fostering, Vol 44(2), 142-155
Adobe Acrobat document [151.1 KB]

Some examples of a script:

A sample script
Narrative 1.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [306.8 KB]

Training and Support

If you would like to attend Training on the Narrative Model or access support in applying the model in a case please click here.


If you would like to speak with someone about arranging training for your team/agency please contact:

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