Support when there are concerns about harmful sexual behaviour
National Clinical Assessment and Treatment Service (NCATS) is a national service that offers assessment, treatment, consultation and training for and about children and young people where there are concerns about harmful sexual behaviour (HSB).
How NCATS works
We run NCATS in partnership with the Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust. We provide assessments and a range of specialist interventions for children and young people displaying harmful sexual behaviour. We work with children and young people (and their families or carers) up to the age of 21. We also provide training and consultations for professionals.
A young person’s harmful sexual behaviour can be understood within the context of a number of different factors – including their social, family and developmental history. The young person may need specialist assessment and intervention, combining a range of approaches.
The NCATS team is multi-disciplinary, with expertise in social work, clinical psychology, counselling, criminal justice and the Dynamic Maturational Model of Attachment.
We can work closely with you to ensure a joint and holistic approach to safeguarding and risk management.
Services we offer
Professional consultation support
We offer consultation services such as advice and recommendations to professionals about managing cases that are complex or involve high-risk harmful sexual behaviour. This may include guidance or oversight on work that has been completed, or when there is an active police investigation which may mean an assessment can’t be completed at the same time. We can also provide advice about issues affecting the case, to help decide whether an assessment would be appropriate.
A consultation includes a meeting between NCATS and the professional network involved. We will read all relevant documentation. We will provide a written report with recommendations for case management and suitability for assessment or intervention. The consultation process doesn’t involve meeting with the child or their parents and carers and isn’t an assessment of the child’s risk or needs.
We can also offer ongoing consultations to teams or organisations on a regular basis as part of a batch consultation process. This can be delivered through existing partnerships or as a bespoke service, dependent on the needs of your team. It can include case discussion, reflective space on themes emerging as part of HSB work or advice and support about handling HSB.
We meet with young people, their parents or carers, and professionals to produce a multi-disciplinary assessment report. The assessment process consists of a professionals meeting, psychometric assessments, followed by clinical interviews with the young person and their parents or carers. We advise that an assessment take place 12 weeks from the point we receive all the necessary paperwork. Within the assessment report we aim to:
- make sense of the harmful sexual behaviour
- provide analysis of risks and needs
- give recommendations on case management, safety planning, placement and treatment options.
We take a trauma-informed, attachment-based approach to our assessments.
We can also offer an additional assessment of attachment for children and their parents or carers. This is informed by the Dynamic Maturational Model of Attachment.
Treatment and intervention services
Following assessment we can offer individual or family-based interventions. This will usually happen alongside other care and treatment the young person is receiving. This can include things like helping the young person and/or family to:
- make sense of their behaviour
- develop strategies to meet their needs in healthy and non-harmful ways
- improve their capacity for managing their emotions and relating to others.
The Safe Home Programme
We also offer interventions for parents or carers using a programme called Safe Home, a 12-15 session psycho-educative and therapeutic programme for the parents and carers of young people who have been displayed HSB. It was developed to address recommendations from the NICE HSB guidelines (2016)1 and our HSB framework to work with parents and carers alongside interventions for children and young people.
The Safe Home programme aims to:
- improve parents’ or carers' knowledge of harmful sexual behaviour
- introduce pathways and risk factors for harmful sexual behaviour
- help parents and carers recognise patterns of problematic behaviour and know how to provide support early
- provide a safe space for parents and carers to pause and process what has happened, usually for the first time. This might include putting these feelings into words and having them listened to and validated.
Teaching and training
We provide tailored training packages to social care and health agencies, universities or at conference events around the UK.
ReferencesNational Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) (2016) Harmful sexual behaviour among children and young people [London]: National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).