The purpose of this paper is to summarise the findings from two projects in Northern Ireland which investigated the feasibility of adapting an existing adult intervention, the 5-Step Method, for children affected by parental substance misuse and/or parental mental illness. The structured brief psychosocial intervention is called Steps to Cope and can be delivered as an individual or group intervention.
The two projects recruited and trained 57 practitioners from across Northern Ireland, 20 of whom went on to use the Steps to Cope intervention with a total of 43 children.
It appears possible to adapt the intervention for children; to train practitioners, some of whom are able to use the intervention with one or more children; and for the intervention to benefit children in line with the five steps of the intervention targeting areas such as health, feelings, information, coping, support, and resilience. However, there are organisational and practical barriers to delivery which need to be overcome for the intervention to be more widely implemented.
Steps to Cope is a unique intervention for this population and the findings discussed here suggest that the model has potential in an area where support for children in their own right is lacking.
The Steps to Cope project is a collaboration between the Taking the Lid Off Partnership in Northern Ireland (ASCERT, Barnardo's, and the SE H&SC Trust) and the UK Alcohol, Drugs and the Family Group. Thanks to Gary McMichael (ASCERT); the Taking the Lid Off partners and the other members of the UK Alcohol, Drugs and the Family Group (Alex Copello, Akan Ibanga, Jim Orford, and Richard Velleman) for their support of this work, with particular thanks to Jim Orford and Richard Velleman for their helpful comments on a draft of this paper. Grateful thanks are also extended to all the children and practitioners who participated in both projects. The first project was funded by the Public Health Agency, the South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust, and the Taking the Lid Off Partnership. The second project was funded by Alcohol Research UK.
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