» Beyond the familial transmission of problems, we can now show that psychotherapy has positive effects across generations – from parents to children and vice versa! «

Prof. Dr. Silvia Schneider

Familial transmission

Transgenerational mechanisms

Clinical psychology research is particularly strong in explaining the maintenance of mental disorders. Our knowledge of the causes and origins of mental disorders is not as profound. Family is a central context for the development of mental health and illness. In this research group, we address the question of how mental health and mental disorders are transmitted within a family. We consider psychological mechanisms such as social referencing or imitation learning as important candidates here. In our studies, we are interested in whether and how individual psychopathological features (not entire disorders) are passed on or learned, e.g., in parent-child interaction.

 

Pro-Child

Principal Investigator and Team

Prof. Dr. Silvia Schneider
Prof. Dr. Sabine Seehagen
Rabea Derhardt M. Sc.
Melanie Wieschmann M. Sc.

Collaborator

Free University of Berlin, Prof. Dr. Babette Renneberg (coordination of ProChild & sub-project 1)
University of Bremen, Prof. Dr. Nina Heinrichs (sub-project 3)
Ruhr-University Bochum, Prof. Dr. Robert Kumsta (sub-project 4)
Free University of Berlin, Prof. Dr. Ulrike Urban-Stahl (sub-project 5)

Funding

Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Funding number 01KR1805B)

Duration

Since June 2019

Description

Being exposed to violence and maltreatment as a child is a severe and well-documented risk factor for abnormal development. Children of mothers with borderline personality disorder (BPD) are at a particularly high risk of experiencing violence and maltreatment. There is compelling evidence that exposure to environmental adversity during childhood is associated with negative outcomes in adulthood. While the adverse impact of maternal BPD and the associated violent parenting practices on their children are known, the disorder-specific impact of maternal BPD on their children and the potential beneficial effects of a disorder-specific parent training on the children have not yet been investigated in detail.

Therefore, the overall goal of the ProChild study is to improve prevention of maltreatment and to promote mental health in children of mothers with borderline personality disorder (BPD) by strengthening mothers’ parenting skills.

The first aim of the present sub-project 2 is to examine the emotion regulation strategies and mental health status of children of mothers with BPD compared to a) children of mothers with anxiety disorders or depression and b) to children of mothers with no mental disorder. Secondly, the impact of a disorder-specific parenting program on the children’s emotion regulation and mental health is studied. Additionally, potential mediators and moderators will be considered. Children’s mental health status will be assessed with a structured Interview (Baby-DIPS and sub-sections of the Kinder-DIPS). Children’s temperament will be assessed via maternal report using questionnaires. Emotion regulation of the children will be explored using age-appropriate waiting tasks. All parameters are measured before and after the parenting training. A total of 324 children between 6 months to 6 years will be recruited, of which 178 account for children of mothers with BPD, 66 for children of mothers with depressive or anxiety disorders, and 80 for children of healthy mothers. Patients will be recruited by contacting individual therapists who specialize in BPD treatment. We assume that 10% will not meet the inclusion criteria. Furthermore, we expect a dropout rate of 25%. Consequently, final analysis will be conducted with 150 children of mothers with BPD and 70 control children.

Wait and See

Principal Investigator and Team

Prof. Dr. Silvia Schneider
Dr. Sabine Seehagen
M.Sc. Johanna Schoppmann

Funding

German Research Foundation (DFG: 415/8-1)

Duration

October 2016 – September 2019

Description

This project focused on mechanisms involved in learning to use the emotion regulation strategy 'distraction' in frustrating situations in toddlers. Four studies were planned to gain new insights into what factors help toddlers to successfully regulate themselves. The first study aimed at discovering whether toddlers can learn distraction through imitation and whether it makes a difference if the adult model was familiar or a stranger. The second study aimed at finding whether toddlers imitate distraction better from older siblings or their parents. A third study researched whether 3-year-olds can learn distraction through picture book reading and what characteristics in both the picture books and also the way it is read play a role. The fourth study strived to take a closer look at the relationship between temperament and the learning of emotion regulation strategies.

If Looks could talk

Principal Investigator and Team

Prof. Dr. Silvia Schneider
Prof. Dr. Albert Newen
Samantha Ehli, M.Sc.
Dr. Babett Voigt

Funding

Graduate college "Situated Cognition" of the German Research Foundation (GRK-2185/1)

Duration

June 2017 – May 2020

Description

In daily life, infants are often faced with ambiguous situations. Literature suggests that during these situations, infants usually increase their looking behaviour towards social partners (social referencing, SR). The ‘situated cognition’ framework claims that infants’ SR varies with social context features, such as familiarity of the social partner. Accounts, like the social-cognitive account and the co-regulation account, about the functions of SR diverge in their predictions on how familiarity influences infants’ SR. Our aim was elucidating SR’s function in infancy by examining SR patterns, affectivity and exploratory behaviour in situations of different levels of threat and with social partners of different familiarity.