About this course

This is a four-day training course teaching the administration, coding and clinical application of the Story Stem Assessment Profile (SSAP) within both clinical and research domains.

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’s direct questions about their family which might cause them conflict or anxiety. 

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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 4 and 9 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.



This training will take place using a blended learning approach and consists of live Zoom sessions and self-guided learning e.g. watching pre-recorded videos. 

You will be required to attend 3 - 4 live sessions each day of the training, which will last approximately 0.5 - 1.5 hours.

Please note this training/event is not being recorded - "live" attendance is required.

Please see the timetable to see the schedule and content for the four days. 



Please note you are required to bring a set of SSAP materials with you to the training. For the full list of materials please see SSAP Kit List.

It is important that all characters, animals and props are in scale with other another. Please gather as many object as you can from the list but don't worry if you don't manage to get everything. The Kit will be discussed in detail during the first day of the training and you will be advised if all your props are appropriate. 

Who is this course suitable for?

Qualified practitioners, with a degree-level qualification, in child mental health or social work, or post-graduate researchers. Additionally, you need to be working with children (aged 4 to 9) within a clinical or research setting.

Aims of course
  • To teach the administration, coding and clinical applicability of the Story Stem Assessment Profile (SSAP)
  • To allow for professionals working with children in this age bracket to become trained and qualified to use the tool both clinically and within the research domain.
  • To provide professionals with a shared forum/platform to think clinically about the material they are working with.

Please note you will be awarded a certificate upon the successful* completion of the course.  (*subject to tutor approval) 

SSAP course materials

Attendees based in England will be supplied with hard copies of the slides and manuals via post if they book 14 days before the training is due to commence. If you are based outside of England or book on to the training after this, the materials will be emailed to you and you will need to print these ahead of the training.

Please note this is separate from the SSAP Kit list. You will need to source the items on Kit list yourself.

Certification of competency

Certification of competency involves the demonstration of competence and aptitude in two areas of usage of the Story Stem Assessment Profile training:

  • The practical administration of the SSAP
  • The capacity to demonstrate consistent and satisfactory reliability levels in coding two sets of transcripts.

Certification of competency enables you to have the backing that you are competent and reliable in using the tool. For those working clinically and / or involved in producing reports in court proceedings, it is critical that you have this backing of being a reliable user of the SSAP.

In order to become receive the certification of competency you will be asked to:

  • Send in a DVD of yourself carrying out a full set of the 13 SSAP stories
  • Code two transcripts of 13 stories each.

If you are successful in reaching the necessary standards, you will receive a certification of competency alongside feedback.

If you have not completed SSAP Certification of competency within three years, you must attend a refresher day before continuing with the Certification process. 

Certification is at no extra cost and is included in the training fee.

The SSAP training and associated materials were developed in collaboration with Great Ormond Street Hospital. The SSAP is copyright of the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families. At present the only way to be trained in the administration, coding and application of SSAP and to receive Certification of competency to use the measure is through the Centre’s training and certification process.


System requirements for online training

The online platform Zoom will be used to deliver this training. Prior to booking on, please ensure you meet the system requirements so you're able to join this training. 

Before the training, please test your equipment is working by going to and follow the instructions.

The self-directed learning element of this training is hosted on Blackboard. Please review if your browser supports this system prior to booking on.

  • 4 days (with a break between all days)

Download Timetable

The Anna Freud Centre brings together those with a stake in the mental health of children and young people. Please subscribe to our mailing list to receive a bi-monthly e-newsletter and occasional updates about the Centre's training and events. 


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