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The Assessment of Relational Risk in Early Parent-Infant Relationships

Sleed, M; (2014) The Assessment of Relational Risk in Early Parent-Infant Relationships. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis provided an in-depth methodological study of the assessment of risk in early parent-infant relationships via caregivers’ representations of their infant and their relationship with them. Three approaches to the assessment of relational risk were examined in detail: parent-report questionnaires, parental Reflective Functioning (RF), and a newly developed coding system for assessing risk in parents’ representations of their relationship with their infant: the Assessment of Representational Risk (ARR). The validity and reliability of these measures were investigated in high- and low-risk parent-infant samples in relation to socio-demographic factors, parental psychopathology, adult attachment, and parent-infant interactions. Parent-report methods were found to be problematic for the assessment of parent-infant relationships in clinical samples. Mothers’ ratings of their infants were strongly related to their own level of distress and unrelated to observer or clinician ratings of infant interactive behaviour. The Reflective Functioning and ARR coding systems, both of which are applied to parents’ narratives about their relationship with their babies in semi-structured interviews, provided meaningful, reliable and valid tools for assessing the quality of the parent-infant relationship in various ways. The ARR identified three typologies of parental representations of the parent-infant relationship that may impinge on the parent-infant relationship: Hostile, Helpless and Narcissistic. These representations modified the prediction of later parent-infant interaction from parental reflective functioning and adult attachment style. The Assessment of Representational Risk is an easily accessible new tool for parent-infant assessments that provided a useful adjunct to the RF coding system. The methodological, theoretical and clinical implications of the findings were discussed.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: The Assessment of Relational Risk in Early Parent-Infant Relationships
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Third party copyright material has been removed from ethesis.
Keywords: parent-infant relationship, relational risk, parental representations, infant attachment, parenting assessment
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1417141
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