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Tavistock Relationships' current research spans the Parents as Partners, Living Together with Dementia, Mentalized Based Couple Therapy and Parents in Dispute programmes.  

“Parents as Partners” group work project, 2013-onwards 

This project is funded by the Department of Education, and is run in association with Family Action. This is an evidence-based group intervention for distressed, hard-to-reach families and is designed to support couples as they work together to resolve relationship issues that can affect their ability to parent their children effectively. We are looking at changes in the interaction between parents, as well as in their perceptions of their children’s difficulties. It is the first UK delivery of a 16-session programme that was developed by Professors Phil Cowan and Professor Carolyn Pape Cowan (Berkeley, USA) who are also Senior Research Fellows at Tavistock Relationships; the programme has been shown to deliver impressive longitudinal outcomes for couples and children and has been delivered effectively over many years in different areas of California.

So far, we have delivered groups across London and Manchester with more projected to run with support from the Department of Work and Pensions throughout 2015. We will be rolling out training for practitioners to enable them to deliver groups across England in conjunction with Local Authority children’s services. Tavistock Relationships has modified the programme, in conjunction with the Cowans, for same sex parents, with the first LGBT parents group due to begin in London later in 2015. Additionally, we have begun revisiting participants who completed the programme more than six months previously in order to collect follow-up data; this will enable us to evaluate whether the effects of the intervention last beyond the programme.

Click here for further details about the project and the summary of findings (2016)


“Living together with Dementia” implementation project, 2013-onwards

This is a project funded by the London Borough of Camden which is trialling the feasibility of a short, 8-session, intervention that aims at increasing the sense of connectedness between partners in a couple relationship where one is in the early stages of dementia. The intervention focuses on reversing the ‘secondary disablement’ that comes after a diagnosis of dementia using the couple relationship as a means to do this.

There is clear evidence that re-enabling the bond between partners that gets diminished in dementia results in increased quality of life, better mental health, and greater independence and inter-dependence between the couple and postpones entry into residential care by a significant period of time. Tavistock Relationships has made links with local agencies in Camden for older people and is delivering training and supervision in the model to staff. Tavistock Relationships project staff are delivering the intervention too, and the project is using a range of psychometric measures to identify its effectiveness, over and above client satisfaction. 

Balfour, A. (2014). Developing Therapeutic Couple Work in Dementia Care – the Living Together with Dementia Project. Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 28, 304-320.

Click here for further details about the project 


Mentalization Based Couple Therapy (MBT-CT) 

Tavistock Relationships is continuing to develop further expertise and application in Mentalization Based Therapy for Couples (MBT-CT).  Mentalization Based Therapy (MBT) is an evidence-based therapeutic model developed by Professor A. Bateman and Professor P. Fonagy. Because of an increase in the number of referrals of couples who present with affective dysregulation, including a history of mental illness, self-harm, and domestic violence Tavistock Relationships has developed an adaptation of the MBT treatment model for couples.

Click here for further details about the project 


“Parents in Dispute” mentalization-based therapy for entrenched post separation conflict 2014-onwards

Tavistock Relationships is currently evaluating a project for separated and divorced couples who are in intractable conflict with each other. This is being delivered in conjunction with the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (CAFCASS) and being funded as a pilot programme by the Department of Work and Pensions.

This free service is primarily for parents who are currently or have previously been in the court process and are unable to resolve their differences about their children. Parents can come on their own or with their ex-partner, as wherever possible we try to work with both parents together, but recognise that this might not always be possible.

The programme seeks to achieve decreased conflict between parents, a strengthened parenting alliance, and increased awareness of the impact of conflict on children, amongst other outcomes in 60-70% of participating parents.