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Patient & family centred care

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Secure beginnings

Secure beginnings

Joint service with Daysprings Trust and Marinoto CAMHS

To develop a joint service in order to strengthen the interface with a community partner organisation and provide an alternative treatment pathway option for consumers.


  • To increase access for specialist perinatal infant mental health services to vulnerable families and infants
  • To develop a service that will enhance long term outcomes for children of parents with mental health and addictions (COPMIA)
  • To establish an evidence-based, time limited, individualised, attachment focused therapeutic intervention

What did we find?

  1. The risk of developing mental disorders for children whose parents have a mental illness ranges from 41% to 77%
  2. Family interventions have the potential to:
    • reduce children’s mental illness symptoms
    • reduce the risk of children acquiring a mental illness by 40%

(Source – COPMI Australia 2013)

What did we do?

Secure BeginningsWe introduced an internationally tested, evidence-based treatment approach. The Circle of Security© is a parent education and psychotherapy program designed to shift patterns of attachment-care giving interactions in vulnerable caregiver-child dyads to more appropriate developmental pathways.

The intervention involves at-risk mothers, fathers or caregivers of infants and toddlers who meet with a psychotherapist for an hour and a quarter each week for up to 20 weeks (Marvin et al, 2002) [view more about Secure Beginnings].

To measure the effectiveness of the intervention we carried out the following pre and post measurements:

  • Strange Situation Procedure has been used to identify attachment style (pre-test only)
  • Parental Sense of Competence questionnaire (PSOC)
  • Coping with Toddlers Negative Emotion Scale (CTNES)
  • Parental Reflective Functioning Questionnaire (PRFQ-1) Post interview (post-test only)

Early results indicate positive shifts, however a greater sample size and further analysis will be required.

Did we make a difference?


Overall parents report very high level of satisfaction with the Secure Beginnings program. Post interviews reveal that satisfaction was related to a number of key areas:

Significant increase in empathy towards their children

Increased sense of competence and confidence as a parent

Reduction of negative attributions towards their child’s behaviour

Increase in delight shown in their children

Increased responsiveness to their child’s emotional needs

Increased awareness in regards to parenting struggles

Our program drop out rates are significantly lower than other parenting programs.

Feedback from consumers

"I think that every parent should have the opportunity to do this course"

"I have learnt so much about myself and my child"

"I think I am a much better mum now to my child"

"Doing this course has changed everything for my family, we are so much happier now"

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