Attachment, trauma and resilience cover

Attachment, trauma and resilience


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Over a 25-year period Kate and Brian Cairns, who are social workers and trainers by profession, fostered 12 children, along with their three birth children.

In this practical and moving book, they draw on their rich personal and professional experience to offer an insight into the realities of family life with children who have experienced attachment difficulties, loss, abuse and trauma.

Using vividly described scenarios, they show how the family responded to children displaying powerful feelings and difficult behaviours.

They explore the ideas absorbed from theories and research which helped them to make sense of day-to-day family life and offer suggestions on what to observe in children experiencing a range of difficulties and stress, and what can be done to promote recovery and resilience.

Who is this book for?

Anyone caring for or working with children separated from their families.

The book covers theory and research as well as what can be done to promote resilience and recovery in children who have experienced trauma.

What you will find in this book

Kate and Brian present different perspectives on this shared experience of fostering children.

Kate’s writing focuses on trauma and brain injury and the theoretical and research basis behind their fostering and how this can be used to help children recover. Brian’s work is more intensely practical, exploring day-to-day approaches and strategies to help promote resilience and encourage healing.

Together, they offer a complete guide which covers the theory of trauma and attachment as well as practical suggestions to build resilience.

The book is structured in three parts. The first two comprise the text of the first edition of Kate’s previously published book Attachment, trauma and resilience. The third is an account of practical parenting strategies first published in Brian’s Fostering attachments.


Kate Cairns is a social worker and teacher. She has established KCA training to share transformative knowledge about attachment, trauma and resilience across children’s services.

Brian Cairns worked as a teacher and social worker. He now pursues a range of activities including serving as a Tribunal and Panel member.



This is a powerful book that speaks eloquently of the contribution that foster carers can make in providing a therapeutic environment in which children can heal and flourish, a contribution that is too often undervalued and supported.

Child and Family Social Work

Beautifully written with profound insights about what might be helpful for very deeply troubled children.

Robbie Gilligan

Highly recommended for both carers and professional in this field – and anyone else who wants to be inspired.

Children Australia

This is one of the most useful and easy to understand books which I have ever had the pleasure of reading concerning these subjects. Written by a professionally qualified person, but with totally personal experience. Excellent.

D.M. Dugdall, five stars,

A superb book. Kate Cairns writes with great understanding and wisdom. Her experiences and her vision provide a brilliant and inspirational guide for anyone working with or fostering unhappy, damaged children.

Pru, five stars,

I had attended a course run by Kate Cairns and was blown away. I ordered this book immediately.

Sue Glason, five stars,