Here is a guide to some terms and phrases that you may come across in our parenting programmes.
Active listening In humanistic psychology, attending acutely to what someone is saying and mirroring back key phrases and ideas.
Control group The set of study participants not receiving the intervention under investigation. They may instead be given either a placebo or no treatment
Cross-sectional (design) Research method that involves observation or measurement of differentiated study groups at the same point or points in time. Often used to study developmental trends and delayed outcomes by observing subjects differentiated by age. Conclusions drawn must take into consideration the assumption that groups are otherwise similarly matched
Dosage Amount or intensity of treatment provided.
Ecological model Theory of child development that emphasises the impact of the environment on the chid. A set of nested ecological systems enact bi-directional influence within and between each other.
Effect size An index of the magnitude of difference in outcome between treatment groups and control groups
Effectiveness trial Determines the effectiveness of a treatment, which is the benefit resulting for a given problem under usual conditions of care for the target population. The effect of an intervention observed within a real-world, community-based setting without unrealistic controls.
Eligibility criteria Subject characteristics necessary for participation in research or intervention. Utilisation of criteria ensures that the treatment is explored or implemented with the target population.
Empathy A therapeutic quality that enables the therapist to understand and enter into the client’s concerns and feelings.
Empirical (empirically) test The process of analysis through observation, experience or experiment, for the purpose of ascertaining objective information on a topic as opposed to subject opinion.
Evidence-based (programme) Framework of treatment or intervention that combines practitioner expertise with knowledge of the best external research and evaluation-based evidence.
Family mapping Also called family structure mapping, a therapeutic technique introduced by S. Minuchin to understand the well-functioning and dysfunctioning aspects of the family. The therapist draws a genogram with the help of the family including the structural (ie, boundaries) and emotional (ie, anger) aspects of the family.
Fidelity Measure of the correspondence between an intervention’s described model and how it is implemented.
Genogram Pictorial display of relationships between family members – representing the historical, emotional and communicative aspects of these relationships, as well as their quality. They are commonly used in family therapy to understand the family system, its subsystems and the nature and quality of connection among them.
Highly specialist Children in care.
Id According to psychodynamic theory, the impulsive and child-like portion of the psyche that operates according to the pleasure principle and disregards consequences. Sexual and aggressive drives come from the id.
I-messages A direct statement that affirms clearly what the individual making the statement wants. A way of addressing behaviour without passing blame.
Intention-to-treat The collection and analysis of data that includes participants who were intended to receive the treatment along with those who actually received the treatment.
Inter-rater reliability Measure of how dependable an observational rating tool is. The degree of agreement among raters indicates the suitability of a measure for assessing the targeted behaviour or characteristic. Given appropriate rater training, if a test is reliable then there should be little or no difference in individual scores between raters
Meta-review (or meta-analysis) Quantitative method of systematically combining results from multiple studies investigating similar interventions in order to derive the most meaningful answer to a specific question. Effect sizes are statistically combined to calculate a meta-effect size.
Neuron Brain cell. Most of these cells follow a standard structure made up of a cell body, information in-putting dendrites, and an information out-putting axon. Neurons transmit information through electro-chemical signalling.
Norm-referenced standardised measure A type of standardised measure that compares individual performance to a population-based average. The population average is utilised instead of a control group.
Operant conditioning Learned modification of voluntary behaviour based on expected consequences. Either reinforcement or punishment can shape behaviour.
Outcome What the programme hopes to achieve; describes a level of performance or achievement
Partnership An approach to therapeutic work that involves the client and practitioner working collaboratively to resolve mental health or relationship issues. Value is placed both upon the practitioner’s professional expertise and the client’s expert knowledge of their own circumstances.
Peer review Method for ensuring high quality in research publications, usually journal articles. Experts in the field of study who were not involved in the research project in question rigorously examine the accuracy and validity of research methods, results and conclusions.
Positive reinforcement In operant conditioning, the use of rewarding consequences to encourage a behaviour.
Power An important aspect of family interactions along with alignment and coalition; representing the level of authority each family member has by examining who is making the decisions for what is going to happen in the family.
Presenting problem The symptoms/problems the family aims to resolve in family therapy. In structural and strategic family therapies, therapy is designed to resolve these problems.
Psychoanalytic theory Ideas pertaining to the underlying forces that drive human emotions and behaviour that are founded upon principles set forth by Sigmund Freud. The psychological process is thought to be determined by a constant interplay between conscious and unconscious motivations.
Qualitative method Type of research procedure that produces non-numerical information that can be presented narratively. Collected for the purpose of determining why or how an intervention is effective. Such methods include observations, interviews and focus groups
Quantitative method Type of research procedure that produces numerical data that can be presented on a scale of continuous measurement or as a count. Used for determining if and to what extent an outcome is observed. Such approaches include randomised control trials, cross-sectional studies and the utilisation of norm-referenced standardised measures.
Randomised controlled trial (RCT) Study design in which participants are randomly assigned to either one or more treatment groups or to a control group and then observed or measured to detect the variable or outcome of interest. The process ensures that any known or unknown confounding factors are evenly distributed across intervention groups. This is considered to be the most robust method of measuring and comparing the effectiveness of interventions.
Reframing A therapeutic technique used to change the family’s perception of the given problem or issue, which in turn will affect their actions. This technique involves altering the current view (ie, meaning or value) of something by making alternative interpretations.
Reflective diary A written diary method used for research, where individuals record their own reactions, feelings, insights and perceptions during the period of data collection. It can be written by the participant/s about their own experiences or by the researcher, as a reflection of the data collection process. The advantage of this type of diary is that it provides detailed information that would help to explore, clarify and understand the issues especially in the therapeutic environment.
Role play A therapeutic technique whereby the client attempts to take on the perspective of another person, such as a family member, and interact accordingly. Role play aids therapeutic change by enabling one to better understand others' behaviour and motivations, empathize with them and modify one’s own behaviour if appropriate.
Semi-structured interview Qualitative research method that explores a set topic yet remains adaptive depending upon interviewees’ responses. Use of a pre-determined list of questions focuses information retrieval on the overarching area of exploration. Use of open-ended and impromptu questions allows the interviewer and subject to explore unforeseen issues determined by individual concerns or interests.
Specialist Children on the edge of care.
Standardised measure Widely accepted or approved method of quantifying or qualifying a characteristic for comparison between individuals or groups.
Subjective (subjectively) Individual differences in perception of the same event or experience, based on the differences between individuals’ perspectives, beliefs, opinions, particular feelings or desires.
Systematic literature review Use of a pre-established method to search for, appraise and summarise all of the published information surrounding a specific topic. The process is designed to be thorough, transparent and objective.
Targeted Children with a diagnosed difficulty.
Target population The group of individuals possessing the characteristics and circumstances for which an intervention is designed.
Targeted Prevention Strategies, services or interventions aimed at specific groups of children or parents, who may be at risk of having future difficulties, ie teen parents, socioeconomically disadvantaged families, single parents etc.
Theory of change The underlying concepts and principles upon which a system of therapeutic intervention is based.
Therapeutic alliance The working relationship formed between a mental health therapist and a client within the context of ongoing therapy. Evidence suggests that the quality of this relationship predicts retention rates and therapeutic change.
Time diary A written diary used for research with the purpose of collecting detailed data on participants’ experiences over a time period. Respondents report on the activities (generally separating primary and secondary activities) they are doing in a pre-determined time interval. The advantages of time diary are that respondents describe the activities in their own words and report the activities in the framework of their temporal sequence.
Treatment group The set of study participants receiving the intervention under investigation.
Universal Strategies, services or interventions made available to all members of the pouplation within a specific target group.
Video diary A digitised diary used for research with the purpose of collecting detailed data on participants’ experiences over a time period. There are multiple ways of constructing video diary method, such that participants might keep the video camera in their homes for an agreed period or the research might do the recording. Video diaries have multiple advantages: they provide objective information and enable repeated viewing of the action or situation.