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The University of Sydney boasts a number of clinics offering world-leading free psychology sessions – in areas ranging from child behaviour to teenagers, gambling and dementia – and the good news is that while you’re participating, your de-identified information is also contributing to research.

Mark Dadds, Principal Research Fellow of the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, and Professor of Psychology at the University of Sydney. Photo: Supplied

Mark Dadds, Principal Research Fellow of the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, and Professor of Psychology at the University of Sydney. Photo: Supplied

 

Engaging dads – like father, like son

Researchers at the University of Sydney’s Child Behaviour Research Clinic (CBRC) in the Brain and Mind Centre have recently published findings from a three-year innovative research project with the aim of improving the rates of father participation in parenting programs to improve the mental health of their children.

The paper is the first study to identify rates of father engagement across child mental health services in Australia. The researchers examined retrospective casefile reviews across 10 Australian child mental health services to document rates of father and mother attendance at sessions. The results show that rates of father attendance do vary widely across clinics, however, they are uniformly and significantly lower than attendance rates for mothers.

Given it is known that child outcomes are better when both fathers and mothers participate in parenting interventions, these low rates of father engagement are compromising the quality of child mental health services in Australia. The Like Father Like Son project, funded by Movember, examined the common barriers to father participation and various ways by which father engagement rates might be increased.

Faced with this pressing need to enhance fathers’ participation in child mental health services, the team has released another paper, published in Australian Psychologist, that provides practice recommendations for maximising father engagement in these services.

The paper identified broad policy and practice recommendations including working to engage fathers as part of the parenting team, avoiding a “father deficit model” by recognising the skills, role and expertise of both parents, increasing fathers’ awareness of parenting programs, ensuring content and delivery of programs is father-inclusive, increasing organisational support for father-inclusive practice, and increasing father engagement training for professionals.

 

Can parenting change your kids’ genetics? Government-funded research

Translating research into practice, the CBRC uses a range of father-inclusive practices and has achieved an exceptionally high rate of father engagement in families attending its treatment service. The CBRC offers a free evidence-based parenting intervention for children with behavioural difficulties and seeks to engage the complete parenting team for all children attending the clinic.

The CBRC is currently conducting frontier research in the interplay between epigenetics and treatment outcomes for children, with the aim to understand and inform the treatment needs of children with complex presentations.

The clinic provides a free treatment program for children aged 2-8 years. As part of this program families will receive individualised strategies for managing and improving their child’s emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Parents and caregivers of children may find the CBRC’s treatment approach helpful for:

  • Managing challenging child behaviours such as tantrums, noncompliance, inattentive or hyperactive behaviour, sibling conflict
  • Addressing child conduct problems including cruelty to others, destruction of property and physical and verbal aggression
  • Managing child emotional outbursts and anger
  • Improving the nature and quality of interactions between children and parents/caregivers in the home
  • Increasing parents’ and caregivers’ confidence in parenting
  • Working as a parenting team with their partner

 

Working with the broader community

The CBRC is also dedicated to training the next generation of clinical psychologists in evidenced-based interventions for children and families.

Each year the CBRC provides supervised clinical placements for postgraduate psychology students, thereby working to strengthen the workforce in clinical psychology.

 Researchers and clinicians at the clinic are also available upon request to provide outreach workshops and professional development opportunities to service providers, parents and teachers. To find out about available talks check out the CBRC’s website or contact the clinic directly.

 

To get in touch with the CBRC, families, referrers and practitioners

To find out more about the CBRC’s research, clinical services or teaching and training please contact the clinic directly: 9114 4326, scbrc@sydney.edu.au, or head to the CBRC’s website.

The University of Sydney boasts a number of clinics offering world-leading free psychology sessions.

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