Call for early years practitioners to train as parent-infant therapists

Nicole Weinstein
Monday, November 30, 2015

The Oxford Parent Infant Project (OXPIP), a charity that supports parents to develop a relationship with their baby, is looking to train early years practitioners across the UK to become parent-infant therapists.

OXPIP works to work with parents who may be struggling with the transition to parenthood, or their relationships with their new baby, to understand the impact their baby has on them and the impact they have on their baby.

According to the charity, 40 percent of people struggle to establish a good relationship? with their baby, and post-natal depression is likely to affect at least 1,000 families each year in Oxfordshire.

Through its programmes, it provides support to 800 people a year and offers one-to-one support as well as a variety of group sessions. The report states that 91 percent of clients saw an improvement in the quality of their parent-infant relationship.

As part of its five-year vision, set out in in the charity’s first impact report, the charity says that it wants to 'grow our early years training into a successful social business’.

OXPIP said the need for its work is even greater today than it was when the charity started 15 years ago:

  • 39 percent of serious case reviews relate to children under the age of one;
  • 29 percent of OXPIP clients have severe mental illness;
  • the families OXPIP works with are often vulnerable - 39 percent of clients have a background of severe abuse, neglect or loss in childhood.

Adrian Sell, executive director of OXPIP, told Nursery World, ‘We’ve worked in Oxfordshire for 15 years and in the last few years we’ve started branching out more, both in terms of training and our therapeutic work. We’ve started working with three children’s centres in Reading in the last year, as well as with a few social services clients in Berkshire.

‘Our one-day early years training courses have been attended by 500 people a year from across the UK, including health visitors, midwives and frontline professionals in children’s centres. We’ve had a handful of early years practitioners on the course, but it’s an area that we are interested in expanding. We are hoping to continue our growth and become a regional organisation in terms of the therapeutic work and the support we provide to families.’

One-day training programmes for early years practitioners include, Ghosts in the Nursery; Watch, Wait and Wonder, and Introduction to attachment, which are all evidence-based programmes. OXPIP also trains people that have prior therapy, counselling or psychology training to become parent-infant therapists.

Mr Sell added, ‘There’s a growing weight of evidence that intervening early is key to successful outcomes in children. The life-long impact of not having close relationships can be costly in terms of children’s physical and mental health, and their ability to engage and behave positively in society. That’s why we want to train up more early years practitioners and those working with children in the earliest days of their lives. We are starting to see the Government get on board: it has made additional money available for perinatal mental heath. There’s a growth in interest at national level and there are numerous programmes at local areas to encourage professionals to get in early and prevent rather than waiting for problems to emerge when children enter the school system.’

OXPIP is one of the founding members of PIP-UK, the lead body for a new national network that provides support for similar services setting up across the country.

For training opportunities, contact OXPIP on 01865 778034 or


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