Archives of Women's Mental Health

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 171–179 | Cite as

A review of mother–child relational interventions and their usefulness for mothers with schizophrenia

Review Article


This review evaluates empirical studies that have attempted to improve observed mother–infant relationships in order to inform a potential approach for mothers with schizophrenia, a growing group of vulnerable families where mothers are known to have relational difficulties. Parenting intervention studies in: (1) mothers with a mental disorder; (2) other vulnerable groups were reviewed. Only interventions that empirically evaluated observations of mother–child interaction or child attachment were included, and their potential usefulness for mothers with schizophrenia was examined. Nine studies involved mothers with mental disorder; none involved mothers with psychotic disorder specifically. Overall, approaches that emphasise the mother–child dyad, such as sensitivity-focused behavioural techniques and toddler–parent psychotherapy, were most efficacious for improving maternal sensitivity/child attachment. Although individual psychological therapies are the more conventional treatment, little current evidence suggests that mother–infant relations improve with symptom reduction. The usefulness of the available evidence for informing interventions with mothers with schizophrenia is discussed in the context of their clinical needs. Feasibility studies are needed, which provide a focus on enhancing maternal sensitivity directly within a multi-level support package.


Schizophrenia Parent–child relations Parenting programmes Attachment Maternal behaviour 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ming Wai Wan
    • 1
  • Steff Moulton
    • 2
  • Kathryn M. Abel
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Women’s Mental Health Research, Community Based Medicine, University PlaceThe University of ManchesterManchesterUK
  2. 2.Centre for Women’s Mental Health Research, Division of Psychiatry, Williamson BuildingThe University of ManchesterManchesterUK

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