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New Beginnings

  • Research Project Team

    Research project team members

    • Michelle Sleed,
    • Tessa Baradon,
    • Peter Fonagy


    • Hackney Social Services


  • Background

    New Beginnings is a 12 session programme that was developed specifically for the high risk population of incarcerated mothers who have care of their babies in HM Prisons Mother Baby Units.

    The programme has been adapted and is now being rolled out in community settings. The evaluation of the prison programme has been evaluated, and the current community programme is currently being evaluated.

  • Aims

    • To evaluate the outcomes of the New Beginnings programme for mothers and babies in prison (completed).
    • To evaluate the outcomes of the New Beginnings programme for mothers and babies in the community (ongoing).
  • Methodology

    • The prison-based intervention was evaluated as a pilot study and in a cluster randomized controlled trial.
    • The community-based intervention is currently being evaluated. Outcomes include: maternal reflective functioning, parenting stress, and the quality of the parent-infant relationship.
  • Results

    A pilot evaluation in the prison study demonstrated significant improvements in the mothers’ capacity for ‘reflective functioning’ in relation to their baby following the course.

    A cluster randomised controlled trial (RCT) of the prison intervention was conducted between 2006-2009.

    The findings showed a significant improvement in ‘reflective functioning’ scores for the mothers who attended the New Beginnings course compared to the mothers in the control group, who demonstrated a decreased capacity to consider their child’s thoughts and feelings over the study period.

    There were generally increased positive interactions in the intervention group infant-mother pairs along the course of the study while the mean ratings remained steady or decreased somewhat in the control group. Significant improvements occurred in the mothers’ and babies’ capacity to interact in a cooperative and smooth manner and for each partner to adjust to the signals, tempo, and emotional states of the other.

    The outcomes of the community-based programme are currently being evaluated.