Center for Psychosocial… Institute for… Research Prevention and…

Understanding and Breaking the Intergenerational Cycle of Abuse in Families Enrolled in Routine Mental Health and Welfare Services (UBICA II)

Involved persons: Svenja Taubner, Jana Volkert, Anna Georg

Funding period: 2019 to 2023

The UBICA-II project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF 01KR1803B) and comprises three studies: One clinical intervention study and two accompanying studies in which the mechanisms of change of the intervention program are investigated. The aim of the randomized controlled intervention study is to break the transgenerational vicious circle of child abuse through a prevention program aimed at mothers and fathers who are considered a risk group for child abuse. These are parents who suffer from a serious mental illness and are currently undergoing (partial) inpatient or outpatient treatment in a psychiatric clinic. The results from UBICA I showed how the ability of ToM (Theory of Mind) or mentalization acts as a protective mechanism against the potential for violence against children in vulnerable mothers with a history of early trauma. On this basis, the intervention will focus on improving the mentalisation capacity of mentally ill parents. The goal of the program (MB-PC: mentalization-based parental counselling) is therefore to reduce the intergenerational transmission of negative attachment experiences and long-term negative developmental trajectories of children of mentally ill parents by strengthening the parental mentalization. The effectiveness of the MB-PC program will be compared to a behavioural and mindfulness-based workshop on positive parenting (TAU+) in a sample of N = 220 patients in psychiatric treatment and their child (0 to 14 years).

The study will take place in the Clinic for General Psychiatry of the University Hospital Heidelberg and the Psychiatric University Hospital of the Charité in the St. Hedwig Hospital of Berlin Charité under the direction of Prof. Sabine Herpertz, Prof. Felix Bermpohl, and Prof. Michael Kaess MD.

The Institute for Psychosocial Prevention is responsible for program conceptualization, training of therapists, adherence testing and supervision.


Volkert, J., Georg, A. K., Hauschild, S., Herpertz, S., Neukel, C., Byrne, G., & Taubner, S. (2019). Strengthening attachment competencies in parents with mental illness: adaptation and pilot testing of the mentalization-based Lighthouse Parenting Program. Praxis der Kinderpsychologie und Kinderpsychiatrie, 68(1), 27-42.