Internal Representations of Children in Care

  • Summary

    This study examined both the internal representations of foster children, aged between 5 and 10 years old, and the mentalizing capacity in their carers. Families were first seen at baseline (within six months of foster care placement) and then 12 months later.   Outcomes in terms of children’s attachment using the Story Stem Assessment Profile (SSAP), child psychopathology, carer reflective functioning, were assessed at baseline, and 12 months later.   Data from 25 participants at two time points is almost complete and ready for analysis.    Initial findings on the SSAP showed high levels of disorganisation and defensive-avoidance themes with low levels of ‘secure’ representations.  Within this population, there were other findings in relation to high levels of dissociation and externalizing psychopathology.  The findings suggest that this population has high adversity which is manifesting itself within both attachment and psychopathology assessments. The longitudinal analysis will further unravel the trajectory of this sample in order for us to learn more about how best to support children in care.

  • Project team


    Five Rivers Child Care and IPA

    Principal Investigators:

    Saul Hillman


    Five Rivers Child Care and Bournemouth Borough Council

    People involved 

    Dr Saul Hillman (Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families)

    Richard Cross (Five Rivers Child Care)

    Rubina Payne (Bournemouth Borough Council)

  • Publications

    Hillman, S. (2015) Preliminary report on Bournemouth Attachment and Adoption Research Study.  Five Rivers Child Care / Bournemouth Borough Council / Anna Freud Centre. Unpublished Report.

  • Related training