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The Emotion Regulation in Children (ERiC) study: Anna Freud Centre awarded funding from The Kavli Trust to evaluate a mentalization-based treatment for children

17th June 2022  |  By: Michelle Cunliffe


A research team led by Professor Nick Midgley, Co-Director of the Child Attachment and Psychological Therapies Research Unit (ChAPTRe) at The Anna Freud Centre, has been awarded over 9.1 million kronor (approximately £750,000) by The Kavli Trust through their Programme on Health Research, to carry out the ERiC (Emotion Regulation in Children) study, evaluating a mentalization-based treatment for children referred to mental health services in the UK.

Given that many school-age children presenting to mental health services experience a mix of emotional and behavioural difficulties, there is a need for evidence-based interventions that target mechanisms that underlie a range of presenting problems. Emotion regulation (ER) has been identified as one such core underlying mechanism. However, few interventions targeting ER in school-age children have been systematically evaluated.

In collaboration with UCL, Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, this study will evaluate the clinical and cost-effectiveness of Mentalization Based Treatment in improving mental health outcomes for children aged 6-12 referred to mental health services. The project will address the evidence gap in therapeutic interventions for children with a mix of emotional and behavioural problems, who are poorly served by current evidence-based treatment guidelines, as they do not fit easily within existing frameworks. Working closely with service users and families, a process evaluation will deepen understanding of what works, for whom and why, and will enrich understanding of young people and parents or carers’ views of what makes treatment effective.

Professor Midgley commented: “Too often this is a gap between the way research is designed and the reality of how children present to mental health services, and how treatments are actually delivered. The ERiC project will help to ensure that the wide range of school-age children referred to mental health services get treatments that are flexible, realistic to deliver and evidence-based.”

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