Center for Psychosocial… Department of Child and… Research Current research…

UBICA II sub-project 3

Section of Translational Psychobiology in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Bio-behavioral parent-child synchrony and child outcome in the context of intervention effects

Understanding and breaking the transgenerational vicious circle of violence in families

Project description

Previous research has shown that parents with a mental illness and early experiences of abuse have a higher risk of abusing their own children. An earlier study by the UBICA network examined mechanisms of this "transgenerational transmission" and concluded that previous interventions have not yet been able to interrupt precisely those mechanisms sufficiently effectively. The aim of the new funding period is therefore to test the effectiveness of mentalization-based parent training in inpatients. The aim is to test whether the training is helpful for mentally ill parents, whether it improves their caring behavior and the parent-child relationship, and whether experiences of abuse or neglect in the parents' childhood also play a role.

The subproject of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Heidelberg University Hospital focuses on parent-child behavior and physiological measures in parents and children before and after the intervention. The aim is to examine whether changes in the so-called "bio-behavioral parent-child synchrony", i.e. the mutual adaptation of behavior, hormonal reactivity and heart rate variability between parents and children, have a significance for the effectiveness of the intervention. Results of this study and in-depth findings on significant physiological and behavioral parameters should facilitate the development of future, specially tailored prevention and intervention programs.

Head of Research project

Project coordinator

Portrait of Katharina Williams, M.Sc.-Psych.
Katharina Williams, M.Sc.-Psych.

Team and Cooperation partners

  • M. Sc. Psych. Leonie Fleck
  • Dipl.-Psych. Peter Parzer
  • Dr. phil. Dipl.-Psych. Anna Fuchs

Cooperation partners:

  • Prof. Dr. med. Sabine Herpertz, University Hosp. Heidelberg, Dept. of General Psychiatry
  • Prof. Dr. phil. Svenja Taubner, Institute of Psychosocial Prevention, Heidelberg University
  • Prof. Dr. med. Felix Bermpohl, Dept. Of Psychiatry & Psychotherapy, Charité Berlin
  • PD Dr. med. Sibylle Winter, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Charité Berlin
  • Prof. Dr. med. Beate Herpertz-Dahlmann, Dept. of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry & Psychotherapy, University Hospital of the RWTH Aachen
  • Prof. Dr. rer. Nat. Kerstin Konrad, Dept. of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry & Psychotherapy, University Hospital of the RWTH Aachen
  • Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Astrid Dempfle, Institute of Medical Informatics and Statistics, Kiel University

Funding / Sponsorship

Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Project duration