ChAPTRe is a research unit led by Professor Nick Midgley. It is a partnership between the Anna Freud Centre and UCL.
The mission of the research unit is to be a space for developing and promoting research related to children and young people's mental health and emotional wellbeing. Our particular focus is on evaluating psychological therapies for children and young people, and their parents and carers. We have expertise in research with children and families in various contexts, including with care-experienced young people, families on the edge of care, and young people with depression. We collaborate with UK clinicians and service providers in various settings, including children’s social care, and children and young people's mental health services. We also work on international collaborations.
As well as asking whether a treatment works, we also explore questions like: Why does this treatment work? What are the mechanisms of change? Who does this treatment work for, and why? What is it like to receive this particular treatment, from the perspective of children, young people, and families? How can this treatment be successfully implemented in real world services?
Key areas of our research are psychological therapies (including psychodynamic and mentalization based treatments), attachment and reflective functioning, children in care and adolescent depression.
Current research projects
The Anna Freud Centre has a long history of developing, testing and disseminating new ideas about how children, young people and families can manage their mental health, with or without professional support. ChAPTRe is involved in a number of ongoing research studies.
The Supporting Parents Project
The Supporting Parents Project (SPP) is a two-arm multi-site randomised controlled trial. It aims to evaluate the Lighthouse Parenting Programme (LPP) in children's social care for parents of a child aged 12 or under who have been on a child protection plan in the last 12 months. The LPP is an adaptation of mentalization based treatment (MBT) and has been specifically developed for parents for whom there are serious parenting concerns.
Emotional regulation in children (ERiC)
Nick Midgley and colleagues in ChAPTRe and the Evidence Based practice Unit have successfully received funding from the Kavli Trust to conduct a randomised controlled trial, which aims to evaluate the clinical- and cost-effectiveness of mentalization based treatment (MBT) in improving mental health outcomes for children aged 6–12 with mixed (emotional and behavioural) difficulties.
The Reflective Fostering Programme (RFP)
The Reflective Fostering Programme (RFP) is a new group-based programme to support foster carers of children aged 4–11. It was developed by the Anna Freud Centre and implemented in collaboration with the NSPCC. The development of the RFP follows calls by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and other organisations to help improve outcomes for children in care – many of whom have experienced early maltreatment and trauma – by providing better support to their carers.
You can also discover past research projects in our archive.
Trainings and consultations
The members of ChAPTRe offer a range of short courses and trainings at the Anna Freud Centre. Please find the details below.
In addition, it is possible for us to offer bespoke trainings, based in London or elsewhere, and to offer consultations regarding child attachment and psychological therapies research. Please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org for more details, and for costings.
- Assessment of Representational Risk on the Parent Development Interview
Interviews such as the Parent Development Interview (PDI) (Slade et al., 2004) that tap into parents’ representations of their child, themselves as parents, and the parent-child relationship can provide rich and meaningful information about the quality of the attachment relationship between a child and their caregiver. This training will complement the Reflective Functioning (RF) on the PDI course.
The PDI RF coding system provides one method of assessing the quality of how parents think and talk about their relationship with their child, i.e., the mentalizing capacity.
However, the PDI can be used to assess other clinically relevant aspects of parental representations which are complex and multifaceted.
The aim of this course will be to provide participants with a broader multidimensional view on some of the other current theoretical and empirical ideas around the assessment of parental representations.
- Reflective Functioning Training on the Parent Development Interview (PDI)
This course aims to provide an understanding of parental reflective functioning/mentalization and to become a reliable coder of RF of the Parent Development Interview. The first full day will provide a brief introduction to the Parent Development Interview and the theory of parental mentalizing. Delegates will be shown how the RF coding system works and how to apply the manual to interviews with parents. The next four sessions will be spent coding interview transcripts together. The course will include homework which must be completed overnight and which will form the basis of discussion the next day.
- Story Stem Assessment Profile Training (SSAP)
The Story Stem Assessment Profile (SSAP) (Hodges and Hillman, 2004) asks the children to respond to a set of narrative story stems where they are given the beginning of a ‘story’ highlighting everyday scenarios with an inherent dilemma. Children are then asked to “show and tell me what happens next”. This allows some assessment of the child’s expectations and perceptions of family roles, attachments and relationships, without asking the child direct questions about their family which might cause them conflict or anxiety.
The SSAP is a clinical and research assessment tool which is a technique specifically for use with clinical and maltreatment populations. It has proved a valuable and non-intrusive tool for examining young children’s mental representations of attachment and relationships, both in research and in clinical practice. Normally, it is best used with children aged between about four and nine years.
Previous research has shown that children’s response to these story stems reflect both current and past features of their family life and attachment histories. The technique allows the child’s attachment representations to be evidenced in a displaced way which is usually enjoyed by the child and not experienced as unduly threatening.
Story Stems Assessment Profile (SSAP) Refresher
- Child Attachment Interview Training
The Child Attachment Interview (CAI) was developed by Mary Target, Peter Fonagy and Yael Shmueli-Goetz (2003). CAI training is not currently running. Historically, this training provided a grounding in the use and application of the instrument for assessing and understanding attachment in middle childhood, with a focus on administration and coding of the CAI.
Target, M., Fonagy, P., & Shmueli-Goetz. Y. (2003). Attachment representations in school-age children: the development of the child attachment interview (CAI), Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 29(2), 171–186, DOI: 10.1080/0075417031000138433
Meet the team
Nick Midgley, Co-Director of ChAPTRe
Nick Midgley is Professor of Psychological Therapies with Children and Young People at UCL, where he is Academic Director for the Doctorate in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy. Among other projects, he is currently chief investigator on the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)-funded Reflective Fostering Study, a clinical trial evaluating the effectiveness of a mentalization based intervention for foster carers; as well as the Emotional Regulation in Children (ERiC) clinical trial, evaluating mentalization based treatment (MBT) for school-age children with emotional and behavioural problems referred to child and adolescent mental health services in the UK, funded by the Kavli Trust.
Professor Pasco Fearon
Pasco is Professor of Family Research at the University of Cambridge, and Director of the Centre for Family Research. He's also Professor of Developmental Psychopathology at UCL and Director of the Developmental Neuroscience Unit at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families. Pasco is a Clinical Psychologist and researcher, focusing on children’s mental health and the family environment, the President of the Society for Emotion and Attachment Studies and Deputy Editor in Chief of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
Michelle Sleed, Senior Research Fellow
Dr Michelle Sleed is a Senior Research Fellow in the Child Attachment Psychological Therapies Research Unit (ChAPTRe) and Deputy Programme Director of the Doctorate in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy at the Anna Freud Centre/University College London. Her research is focused on evaluating preventative interventions for families, and particularly the role of parental mentalizing as a mechanism of change. She has carried out research evaluating the outcomes of psychoanalytic and mentalization based treatments for families experiencing complex difficulties, including interventions for parents in prison, parents with perinatal psychiatric difficulties, and families in the child welfare system.
Dr Sleed is a trainer in various systems for coding the Parent Development Interview, including Parental Reflective Functioning and the Assessment of Representational Risk. She has used the measures extensively in clinical evaluations and therapy process research. Her research has also investigated and addressed issues of measurement of parental mentalization, particularly pre-mentalizing modes, in the assessment of relational trauma within the parent-child relationship.
Peter Martin, Senior Research Fellow
Dr Peter Martin is Associate Professor of Biostatistics and Psychological Methods in the Department of Applied Health Research at University College London. One of the joys of being a statistician is that he gets to collaborate with fellow researchers from many disciplines, including psychology, sociology, medicine, health care, and epidemiology. Peter has a particular interest in mental health and psychotherapy research. He is also an enthusiastic teacher of statistics and has published two textbooks for university students.
For more information and a full list of Peter’s published work, please see his UCL profile.
Evrinomy Avdi, Senior Research Fellow
Evrinomy is Professor in Clinical Psychology at the School of Psychology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, and Research Tutor at the Anna Freud Centre. She is a clinical psychologist, psychoanalytic psychotherapist and drama therapist with a long-standing interest in constructionist research on clinical practice. Evrinomy has been teaching and writing on the use of qualitative research methods in clinical work and has been involved in several projects examining the experience and process of psychotherapy.
Saul Hillman, Senior Research Fellow
Saul is a Senior Research Fellow and Research Tutor at the Anna Freud Centre and is an Honorary Lecturer at University College London. He is the tutor for two University College London postgraduate programmes: the MSc in Developmental Psychology and Clinical Practice (DPCP) and the Doctorate in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy where he both supervises and leads on specific projects. He is also the training lead for the Story Stem Assessment Profile (SSAP) courses including managing accreditation, coding and consultation. Saul’s research areas are around adoption and looked-after children with a particular interest in attachment and mentalization.
Paula Oliveira, Senior Research Fellow
Paula is a Senior Research Fellow and Course Tutor at the Anna Freud Centre. Her research is focused on attachment and trauma in children who are or have been looked after or are at risk of entering care. Her teaching is in the UCL research master’s programme Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology. More recently she started working as a psychologist in a clinical service associated with ChAPTRe, offering an attachment-based parenting intervention to adoptive, kinship and foster parents.
Guilherme Fiorini, Research Officer
Guilherme is a Research Officer at ChAPTRe and a PhD candidate in Psychoanalytic Studies at UCL. His main interest is in child and adolescent psychotherapy. He is currently involved with the Supporting Parents Project and the IMPACT trial, two randomised controlled trials on psychological therapies.