Myst Brochure Caerphilly

Therapeutic fostering:

MyST is a specialist service that brings together professionals from Social Services, Education and Health. We know every family is different, and we tailor our approach to each one. We take a ‘whole family approach’, developing a relationship that works for the individual needs of each family member and child, taking care to listen and value everyone’s needs.

Foster carers are specially recruited, trained and are seen as part of the therapeutic team. The therapeutic foster carer’s relationship with the young person is the key agent for change.

Qualities and values of a therapeutic foster carer:

  • A commitment to the role that involves a high intensity of investment on both time, on a physical and emotional level
  • A high degree of resilience and tolerance
  • Being risk tolerant
  • Be able to look for positive qualities in the young people
  • Be compassionate
  • Believe that young people can change given the right conditions
  • Be willing to accept their own and the young persons challenging feelings and to be able to work with them, requiring a degree of openness
  • Be able to empathise and be with the young person
  • Be in it for the long term
  • Be willing to try new things
  • Be open to help and support
  • Working as part of team and valuing other peoples perspectives whilst developing your own therapeutic knowledge (learning from each other)

The ‘essence’ of what a therapeutic foster carer does:

  • Sign up to the therapeutic process and understanding the importance of relationships as the vehicle for change
  • Knowledge around the clinical models
  • Ability to work with the most challenging young people
  • A high level of involvement in the system, for example attendance at ongoing meetings
  • Ability to work with lots of different professionals and birth families


MyST (previously MIST; Multidisciplinary Intervention Service Torfaen), was originally established in 2004 to provide a therapeutic wrap-around service in Torfaen for looked after children and young people (aged 5 – 21 years) and their accompanying systems (e.g. Local Authority Social Work teams, education providers, foster carers, birth families, healthcare providers, other third sector services etc.). Subsequently, MyST services have been developed in the Gwent boroughs of Caerphilly (established 2017) and Blaenau-Gwent/Monmouthshire (established 2019).

Caerphilly MyST is funded by Children’s Services and key performance indicators are;

  1. Reducing the number of young people in residential care;
  2. Increasing participation in education/training;
  3. Improving placement stability;
  4. Improving young people’s mental health

The primary function of MyST is to provide a community and family-based alternative to residential care for young people with complex mental health needs. Evidence highlights that for children and young people looked after by the Local Authority, there are a number of interconnected factors that contribute to their vulnerability, including adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), poverty and disruption of care. MyST is a specialist mental health service and our work draws on a wide variety of psychological approaches, with psychological formulation being at the centre of our practice. We also draw on psychological theory to inform our formulations and some examples of these are:  attachment theory (DDP and theraplay), child development, systemic theory, social learning and humanistic-person centered approaches. By providing therapeutic wrap-around support to the young people and the systems that are involved with young people, MyST aims to have a positive impact on the resilience of both the young people and the adult networks around them.

Teams are comprised of two leads (a Therapeutic Practice Manager and a Clinical Psychologist), three Lead Therapeutic Practitioners (LTPs) and two Young People’s Practitioners (YPPs). The service draws upon multiple therapeutic models and approaches to engage young people and the people in their systems, support in skill-development and build resilience; these include systemic approaches and the principles of attachment theory at the core of the service. YPPs take a lead in establishing a relationship with the young person referred and focus on providing activities to engage them in the service and create a safe space to initiate therapeutic interventions. LTPs work closely with the YPPs though also focus on working with the whole adult network surrounding the young person, such as birth families, foster families, education, health, social services etc, hence the phrase ‘wraparound’ therapeutic provision. Weekly/fortnightly supervision is provided to foster carers who will also benefit from training opportunities to learn and develop skills, strategies and understanding. Therapeutic foster carers can also access 24/7 On Call support from MyST which provides individualised support.

More details about the MyST service can be seen via the following link; A Centre for Trials Research Study completed at Cardiff University

The research was carried out in 2017 and involved a series of observations of MIST activities and data from interviews with staff, young people and foster carers. This can provide a sense of the outcomes of the service.

MyST in Caerphilly conduct an annual young people’s survey, to find out more about the way that young people make sense of the service that MyST provides. Some of the quotes that have arisen from the 2019 survey include:

“MyST has made things more positive and given me confidence.”

“Helped me manage change.”

“Having a phone, being able to speak to family and previous carers.”

“Being in a foster home instead of residential”

“MyST helped with controlling my emotions.”

“Help with my placement.”

“Having more people to talk to”

“Being able to make good decisions (help from placement)”

“They understand of my behaviours and they listen to what I have to say.”

“I class MyST as my second home.”

Further information is collected via the consultation and training sessions that MyST provide to the wider systems, and some of the feedback from such activities include:

“friendly and very helpful”

“very useful and interesting advice and guidance provided”

“very considered and well explained”

“really helpful and allowed me to reflect”

“safe and productive space to explore issues, time to reflect”

“welcoming and knowledgeable staff, friendly with excellent knowledge” 

“good understanding of children in crisis and the therapeutic involvement”

“very beneficial strategies discussed” 

“interesting to understand how the brain is affected by trauma and impact on behaviour and gross motor skills”