Donia Heider, PhD student


My PhD study is exploring the ways in which parental divorce/separation affect primary-school children's inner worlds (i.e., their conscious and unconscious thoughts, wishes, and beliefs, as well as their internal attachment representations). The aim of the study is to better understand this common childhood experience in order to contribute to knowledge and research, and to enhance treatment and support in the UK. This mixed-methods study utilises a narrative task known as the Story Stem Assessment Profile (SSAP) as well as a qualitative semi-structured interview. Two additional sections of this study will examine how other important objects in the child’s outer and inner worlds think about and make sense of the child’s experience following divorce/separation. The first section focuses on the divorced/separated parent’s capacity for reflective functioning through the use of the Parent Development Interview; the second section explores how primary-school teachers think about the child’s experience of divorce/separation through the use of focus group data.

My current research interests are primarily in separation and loss in childhood and how these experiences affect the child’s inner world; as well as how those closest to the child make sense of the child’s experience and how this may impact the child. 

Start Date:

October 2013

PhD Supervisors:

Prof. Mary Target, Dr. Saul Hillman, and Dr. Alejandra Perez