Page 1

Comfort Zone A Practitioner’s guidebook



1 Introduction

This guidebook is about a new intervention called the ‘Comfort Zone’.


Step 1: What is Comfort Zone?

15 Step 2: Why get in the Comfort Zone? 19 Step 3: Who can use Comfort Zone? 20 Step 4: How do I use Comfort Zone? 34 Step 5: When do I use Comfort Zone?

It has been developed by Brenda McLackland, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, in partnership with Barnardo’s. The aim is to help prevent the children of today being the mental health service users of the future. This is possible by promoting a happy and secure start to life. It is our job to ensure that parents are equipped to provide this for their children. Comfort Zone intervention is based on the attachment theory of emotional development (Bowlby 1969, 1973 and 1980).

This is a new and innovative way of working with parents: • To ‘tune in’ to their child • Focus on emotions not behaviour • Simple and visual

This intervention is unique in that it focusses on feelings and relationships as opposed to behaviour management, the usual subject of parenting interventions. It aims to help parents to understand their important role in their child’s emotional health and development. It aims to help parents to change their responses to their children if they wish. This intervention deliberately targets feelings and relationships these can be worked on exclusively OR in conjunction with a behavioural programme. Emotional development is as important as physical development. It is time to put it on the map! This guidebook helps practitioners to focus their work with parents. To show parents how important they are in laying the foundations for their child’s future happiness. This guidebook will explain the what, why, who, how and when of Comfort Zone intervention.

Emotional development starts in utero and in order to develop in a healthy way it needs parents to nurture and guide it, much the same as with physical development. If it is given no attention it develops anyway and could lead to problems in the child’s future.


Step 1: What is Comfort Zone?

Healthy Feelings: Comfort Zone

So, what is the Comfort Zone?

Have you ever heard the expression ‘I’m in my comfort zone?’ It usually means you feel relaxed happy and confident. People in their comfort zone are usually enjoying themselves with people they like or doing something they love.

What’s that got to do with bringing up children?

I’m so in my comfort zone

Just like us, children feel relaxed happy and confident when they are in their comfort zone.

The difference is: I’m right in my comfort zone

• Parents can help them find their comfort zone and • Stay there as much as possible.

Parents do this by keeping their responses to their children in the comfort zone. We often use colours to describe emotions or situations “I’m feeling blue”, “I’m red hot”, “mellow yellow”. This colour scale can be used by parents to describe their own feelings, those of their children and their interactions with their children.

I’m in my comfort zone too



Barnardo’s Registered Charity Nos. 216250 and SC037605 ©B.McLackland 2012

Guidebook for staff (sample pages)  

This accompanies the Comfort Zone training course for practitioners - see information leaflet for more details of our training