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Blocked Care

By Nikki Spencer LBSW, TBRI® Practitioner

Do you ever feel caregiver burnout? A stressed parent or caregiver may find they feel blocked from having a strong connection or deeply caring for their child.

Nikki helps us explore what might be causing that block and how to overcome it.


Hi, good morning. My name is Nikki. Welcome to today’s Coffee with Chosen.

If you are parenting a child that’s gone through trauma, you have likely experienced a time where you feel like you have literally given all of your physical and emotional resources and depleted them trying to care for the unique needs of your child. Have you ever had a time where you even felt like you genuinely want to have more compassion, and connection, and caring for your child that you feel like you just can’t? Or that something is even blocking you from being able to do so?

Dan Hughes, the creator of DDP Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy, actually has a term for this, and he calls it Blocked Care. What happens is, as caregivers, we have these hormones and chemicals that are released in our bodies, and they prime us for caregiving. They’re kind of responsible, you can think, for those warm and fuzzy connecting feelings that we have with people. You can also think of them as kind of giving-receiving chemicals. That they’ll replenish whenever we give something that feels good, and then when we’re getting it back from that other person in return. Building it up.

Parents who have been under a lot of stress, or if you have a child that has a difficult time trusting or building attachments and relationships, often have these very depleted and not built up. And that imbalance can really cause you to feel a physical disconnect or feelings with your child.

So how do we work on unblocking blocked care?

The first thing to do would be to practice self care. So the more that we can manage our own emotions, our own stress, the more capacity we will automatically be able to have for another person, and their needs, and have empathy for them which can help grow the bond.

Another thing you can do is practice just even 10 minutes a day of one-on-one time with your child, doing something that you both enjoy. So even just little positive experiences that you can put in here can help build this up. My advice for one-on-one time would be this: Make sure that you, as the parent, are in a good headspace to be able to do that. If I’m about to do it, sometimes I will take a jog just around my block real quick so that I can just kind of be feeling calm and not too stressed out. So that I can be in a good space to be present with my child and have patience. If I need,

If you are experiencing blocked care with your child, we would love to help you. Please reach out to us for support. Thanks for joining us today.


If you want more parenting tips geared towards families impacted by foster care, adoption, and kinship care, please visit our resource library. If you need personalized trauma-responsive care for your family, we would love to help! Contact us to learn more about the ways Chosen Care can support your family.
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