For her first official engagement of 2017, The Duchess of Cambridge, as Royal Patron, visited the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families. She visited the centre’s Early Years Parenting Unit, (EYPU), to see the work staff does to help families with children under age five.
The EYPU opened in April of 2011. Its sole purpose is to work with parents with personality disorders; to help them connect with their children who are age five and under so the children no longer become at risk of being removed from their parents care.
This unit offers an assessment and treatment programme, that according to Kensington Palace: “seeks to address the parents’ personality disorders; children’s developmental needs; and the parent-child relationship. The ultimate aim is to keep families together and help parents become more aware of, and responsive to, their children’s needs, leading to more emotionally attuned parenting.”
The mission of The Duchess’ visit was to draw continued attention to the importance of mental health issues affecting children, how early intervention and participation by the whole family unit can help those in vulnerable circumstances. Whilst there, the Duchess met parents who completed the treatment programme. From them, she heard what brought them to participate in the programme, their experiences while in the programme and where they are now after its completion.
The Duchess also met families currently going through the programme. She joined in a ‘theraplay’ session. These sessions promote the attachment and relationship between child and parent. She also met staff who facilitate this crucial programme.
Another service the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families provides is Parent Infant Psychotherapy (PIP). PIP works with expecting and new parents. It acknowledges the need to recognise and understand the impact having a child has on a parent and how the parents can impact the child. The parent-child relationship is the main focus of this service just like the programme offered in the EYPU.
You can learn more about the work of the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families on their website.