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Parents Plus 2015 Innovations in Working with Families Conference and UCD School of Psychology

Mon, 7 December 15 16:05

On December 3rd 2015 the Parents Plus Innovations in Working with Families Conference was held at the Croke Park Conference Centre, Dublin. The conference was organized by Dr John Sharry, adjunct senior lecturer at the UCD School of Psychology, co-founder and CEO of the Parents Plus charity, and co-developer of five Parents Plus training programmes.

Parents Plus programmes are the only evidence-based parent training programmes to be developed in Ireland, and are designed to be sensitive to the Irish cultural context. The opening address was made by Dr Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman for Children, who is a graduate of the UCD School of Psychology.

The first keynote address, which presented an overview of the evidence-base for Parents Plus programmes, was given by Professor Alan Carr from the UCD School of Psychology.  In his address Professor Carr said ‘There is now a large evidence-base to support the effectiveness of Parents Plus programmes as both a preventative intervention, and as a treatment for disruptive behaviour disorders and challenging behaviour associated with developmental disabilities. The evidence base includes 19 studies involving over 1000 families. This research shows that Parents Plus programmes work for families with children of all ages, and for separated families. The gains made on Parents Plus programmes continue for up to 10 months following the end of treatment. The research I reviewed today shows that Parents Plus programmes, which were developed in Ireland, work as well as evidence-based parent training programmes developed in other countries such as the US and Australia. The implications for policy, practice and research are clear. Parents Plus programmes should be rolled out nationally in preschools, schools and CAMHS settings. Large multi-site randomized controlled trails with long-term follow-up should be conducted to find out the long-term benefits of these programmes. It will also be important to conduct economic evaluations to find out the cost-savings to Irish society associated with Parents Plus programmes.’

Over 400 delegates attended the conference. At the conference there were practitioner presentations on service innovations in the delivery of the Parents Plus programmes including adapting the these programme for parents of children with a moderate intellectual disability; delivering these programmes through schools; combining the delivery of the Parents Plus Adolescent with the Working Things Out Programme, which was developed for adolescents with emotional disorders; supporting children and parents with the help of the Parenting When Separated Programme; using the Parents Plus Early Years Programme in preschool settings; and  running parenting groups with fathers and mothers in a prison context using  a collaborative multi-agency approach. There was an advanced practice workshop on solution-focused group work and a second keynote address by Dr Fred Ehresmann from the University of the West of England on engaging and retaining parents in training programmes.

The Parents Plus Charity has been operating for 15 years. During this time, it has provide training to over 4,500 professionals in 900 agencies. Through this work over 45,000 families have benefited. The mission of the Parents Plus Charity is to improve the well-being of children and parents by empowering professionals to deliver evidence-based parenting and mental health programmes in their services and communities. The UCD School of Psychology has played a key role in developing the evidence base for Parents Plus Programmes.  

In the photo from left to right Professor Alan Carr, UCD School of Psychology, Dr Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman for Children, Dr John Sharry, CEO of Parents Plus and UCD School of Psychology