The transition to parenthood is a vulnerable time for a relationship but also an opportunity for early intervention. Yet practitioners in health, education and social services, to whom parents routinely turn for support at this key moment, report uncertainty in how best to respond.
Penny Mansfield of the London-based relationship organisation One Plus One describes the “Brief Encounter” model that has been used to train 3,500 health visitors in how to recognise the moment they are turned to for help with relationship problems, how to encourage parents to discuss relationship issues, and how to conclude or refer onwards appropriately. Evaluations show that almost all professionals feel more confident discussing relationship problems as a result of the training and are then able to identify more mothers potentially in need of support. Mothers are also more likely to report having received help from their health visitor as a result.
Most recently One Plus One has been establishing new routes for early intervention, such as training volunteers how to support mothers in deprived areas who do not access mainstream services, and also introducing new internet-based services to support the parental relationship.