Reconnecting mothers and children after violence (RECOVER): The Australian Child-Parent Psychotherapy Pilot

Program evaluation snapshots
Thursday 26 July, 1120 – 1130


Dr Leesa Hooker
Judith Lumley Centre, La Trobe University

Domestic violence detrimentally affects women and children as they are the most common victims of such abuse. The mother-child relationship is often impaired as a consequence. Dyadic or relational interventions that include mothers with their children, such as Child-Parent Psychotherapy, are effective in restoring child health and reducing trauma. While Child-Parent Psychotherapy has been trialled in the United States of America across several populations, Australian research on dyadic interventions for abused women and children is limited.

The aims of the study are to assess the efficacy and feasibility of implementing Child-Parent Psychotherapy in Australia. Using a mixed methods, pre-post design, this 12-month pilot study examined the acceptability of the intervention to women (n=15) and providers (n=9) and identified process issues including barriers to program implementation and sustainability. Intervention efficacy was assessed using maternal, child health and mother-child relationship outcome measures. These included a range of parental self-report measures on maternal physical and mental health (trauma symptoms, depression), domestic violence exposure, parenting behaviours (reflective functioning), and child trauma symptoms and mental health. Direct observation of mother-child interaction was also captured for analysis.

Preliminary results will be discussed including baseline data on women and preschool age children’s social and emotional health, attachment and wellbeing. Program acceptability, including women’s expectations of program outcomes and early implementation issues, will be shared.

This information will be of interest to delegates interested in domestic violence and infant mental health, and researchers seeking to implement relational interventions in this particular cohort.