Intimate partner violence detrimentally affects the social and emotional well-being of children and mothers. These two populations are impacted both individually and within the context of their relationship with one another. Child mental health, maternal mental health and the mother–child relationship may be impaired as a consequence. Early intervention to prevent or arrest impaired mother–child attachment and child development is needed. Dyadic or relational mental health interventions that include mothers with their children, such as child–parent psychotherapy, are effective in improving the mental health of both children and mothers and also strengthening their relationship. While child–parent psychotherapy has been trialled overseas in several populations, Australian research on relational interventions for children and women recovering from violence is limited. This study aims to assess the acceptability and feasibility of implementing child–parent psychotherapy in Australian families.
Methods and analysis
Using a mixed methods, prepost design this feasibility study will examine the acceptability of the intervention to women with preschool aged children (3–5 years, n=15 dyads) and providers, and identify process issues including recruitment, retention and barriers to implementation and sustainability. In addition, intervention efficacy will be assessed using maternal and child health outcomes and functioning, and mother–child attachment measures. Young children’s mental health needs are underserviced in Australia. More research is needed to fully understand parenting in the context of intimate partner violence and what works to help women and children recover. If the intervention is found to be feasible, findings will inform future trials and expansion of child–parent psychotherapy in Australia.
Ethics and dissemination
Ethics approval obtained from clinical sites and the La Trobe University Human Research Ethics Committee (ID: HEC17-108). Results will be disseminated through conference proceedings and academic publications.
Researchers: Hooker, L., Toone, E., Raykar, V., Humphreys, C., Morris, A., Westrupp, E. & Taft, A.