When it comes to recovery from the trauma and harm of intimate partner violence (IPV), the evidence base shows a need for early intervention and responses that include women and their children. This research report provides findings from a pilot evaluation project examining the effectiveness of an early intervention therapeutic model, child–parent psychotherapy (CPP), designed for young children and their mothers experiencing trauma, including IPV. This therapeutic model was developed in the United States as a model of care for mothers and their children to enhance relationships and reduce trauma. This report’s findings aim to inform future trialling and expansion of CPP nationally.

With this aim in mind, the researchers tested the feasibility of CPP in the Australian context, assessed therapist fidelity to the model, and evaluated its effectiveness at improving the health and wellbeing outcomes of women and their children. The evaluation used a small-scale, multisite pilot featuring 18 mother–child dyads and 11 community-based clinical sites in both urban and regional locations in Victoria and South Australia.

The researchers found that the small-scale pilot was promising, reporting the mother–child therapy model to be feasible in the Australian context. Positive outcomes were reported for mothers and children, including increased parental warmth and improved child emotions and behaviours. Women also experienced less IPV post-intervention. Clinicians who adhered most to the model were also better able to build relationships with women and their children and convey a sense of hope. Importantly, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the overwhelming demand for evidence-based relational, child–parent, and young child-focused therapy like CPP, particularly in rural areas.

This research contributes to a better understanding of the service needs of women and children impacted by IPV, particularly the role of recovery interventions in buffering the long-term effects of IPV on families and developing children.

Publication Details
License type:
Access Rights Type:
Research report 05/2022