Liverpool service enhances parent-child attachment

Works with parents pre and postnatal.

  • Range of therapeutic approaches are used.
  • Wellness services has engaged with 875 families since 2015.


Liverpool Parent Infant Partnership (LivPIP) supports families struggling to bond with their babies due to trauma, depression or isolation by offering a range of therapeutic approaches.

The service, delivered by charity Person Shaped Support (PSS), is one of nine sites in a national network of parent infant partnerships (PIPs) set up to help build resilience among parents.

Formerly funded by Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) - and now entirely by the National Lottery Reaching Communities Fund - LivPIP works with families from conception to when their children reach the age of two.

The team, consisting of four practitioners, take referrals from parents or through professionals working with families such as midwives, health visitors and GPs.

Therapeutic support is provided both pre and postnatal through home visits, at Liverpool Women's Hospital and across the city's network of children's centres.

Jane Watkins, parent and baby wellness service manager at PSS, says the work carried out by the service is underpinned by the 1,001 Critical Days manifesto.

It also aims to be inclusive towards men who may be experiencing mental health issues after becoming parents.

"There's more evidence to suggest fathers are experiencing depression or have been affected by birth trauma," she says.

Under PSS's umbrella term of ‘parent and baby wellness', a separate team deals with postnatal depression and is funded by Liverpool Council.

"That focuses on the mood of the parent," explains Watkins, "but our LivPIP service focuses more on the bond and attachment between parent and baby."

Group work offered by the service includes Mellow Bumps, Mellow Babies and Watch, Wait and Wonder sessions.

Watkins says parents that sign up to Mellow Bumps, a six-week antenatal session, are helped to think about how they can prepare for the arrival of their new baby.

"As well as the therapeutic work we do, the service is about building confidence and esteem and getting parents to start to bond with their baby early.

"Babies are born primed to socialise so they will recognise sounds that they hear in utero - touching your bump, playing music, hearing voices - these are things that will trigger a response from the baby and will help parents form that bond," she explains.

The Watch, Wait and Wonder group, for babies aged from four to 12 months, targets those parents who find it challenging to sit and play with their child or who may be experiencing anxiety.

Watkins says the service helps to change "patterns of intergenerational parenting" recognising that depression or birth trauma can affect parents' ability to bond with their child.

"Sometimes parents feel traumatised by their experience because they haven't been parented well themselves. Our service helps people to process that," she says.

Therapeutic interventions include parent infant psychotherapy, family therapy, systemic psychotherapy, video interaction and play-based work.

Recording parents on video and giving them the chance to watch themselves is an effective intervention, says Watkins.

"Watching video in a supportive relationship which highlights what is going well can be powerfully therapeutic," she explains.

Watkins says psychotherapy interventions explore how family members interact "allowing communication to be clarified, beliefs to be shared and new ways of doing things to emerge".

Parent-infant psychotherapy provides "time and space" for parents to reflect on their role as a parent, she adds.

Group work is also offered to women that have experienced birth trauma by one of the team's practitioners, a qualified midwife, who delivers a trauma model called the Rewind programme.

She says the "vast area" covered by the service stretches resources - its team carry out up to 35 home visits a week for both LivPIP and the postnatal depression service.


LivPIP works on average with around 200 families each year although Watkins says many more referrals are received but families decide not to engage.

Since 2015, PSS's parent and baby wellness service, combining the PND team and LivPIP, has engaged with 875 families.

Data from PSS's Social Impact report shows anxiety and depression scores significantly reduced following the service's intervention.

Click for more in CYP Now's First 1,001 Days Special Report

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