Relational Learning Framework for professionals 2017-03-28T08:55:51+00:00

Relational Learning Framework for professionals

The Relational Learning Framework (RLF) was developed to help foster parents, caregivers and social workers understand the perspective of the child in their care. It is a tool for working out what children who have been abused and neglected have learned about relationships from their adverse experiences and what foster parents, social workers and therapists can do to help the child reach more positive conclusions about relationships, though their actions and their words.

Example: A child who has been beaten up by his parents and is bullying other children is likely to have learned different things from the abuse than a child wo has had the same experience and who is frightened of other children. This tool helps foster care professionals to integrate information in a simple way in order to make a comprehensive plan for what the child needs to learn from current relationships e.g. that you don’t have to hit to get what you want, that other people can be fun, that relationships can last. This can be shown in a chart.

History Problems View of self View of others/world What does child need to learn
9 year old boy regularly beaten by his parents Stabbed a teacher with a pencil I’ve got to be tough and fight to survive The world is a dangerous place You don’t have to hit people to get what you want.
9 year old boy regularly beaten by his parents Very anxious and scared of adults I am not safe The world is a dangerous place That relationships can be safe

The framework grew out of the idea that children develop a template or ideas about relationships and what to expect from other people through how their parents or caregivers look after them. This is called the internal working model and is part of attachment theory. The tool is compatible with cognitive theory as it works out what the child may think of themselves, others and the world (core beliefs).

The framework can be used for supervision, case consultation and multi-disciplinary meetings.

Training in the RLF

Wendy Kelly has been teaching the RLF for over 10 years. Standard and tailored workshops are available.

Introductory half day workshop

This half day seminar includes as introduction to attachment and foster care, a worked example of a Relational Learning Framework and how to apply the knowledge to help the child develop different ideas about relationships.

One day training on using The Relational Learning Framework

This one day training will enable participants to begin using the RLF with their clients. The morning covers basic attachment theory and how it applies to foster children. The afternoon includes a worked example of an RLF and then participants complete their own RLF. The training includes supervision of two RLFs per participant.

Agency training

This training is for a foster care or mental health service which wants to adopt the RLF as part of its intake and case management procedures.

  • Day 1: Attachment, foster care and trauma. Two worked examples of an RLF.
    Before day 2: Supervision of two RLFs.
    Day 2: How to use the RLF, troubleshooting, amending the RLF over time and using the RLF when crises occur.
  • Quarterly supervision


Kelly, W., & Salmon, K. (2014). Helping foster parents understand the child in their care: A Relational Learning Framework. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 19, 535-547. doi:10.1177/1359104514524067

Contact us now to arrange an appointment