Using groupwork to enhance parental presence and emotional availability


  • Julia Jude Oxleas Foundation Trust / University of Bedfordshire
  • Veronica Rivera-Gould NHS Greenwich
  • Gilda Flores NHS Greenwich



Abstract: In this paper we focus on the process of a group through the lens of a case study. Within this we pursue two goals. Firstly we combine approaches derived from Bowlby’s (1982 & 1988) ideas on attachment and emotional availability (AEA), with mindfulness, non-violent resistance (NVR) and systemic practices and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), to provide a method for situating our work. Secondly we propose some integrated ideas for the formation and development of parent related groupwork. In conclusion we offer our recommendation for groupwork practice to enhance parents’ emotional availability, highlighting some of the strengths and issues encountered during the process of the group.

Author Biographies

Julia Jude, Oxleas Foundation Trust / University of Bedfordshire

Systemic Family and Group Psychotherapist / Senior Social Work Lecturer, Oxleas

Veronica Rivera-Gould, NHS Greenwich

Systemic Family Therapist

Gilda Flores, NHS Greenwich

Systemic Family Therapist


Adam, E.K., Gunnar, M.R. &Tanaka, A. (2004) Adult attachment, parent emotion, and observed parenting behaviour and moderators. Child Development, January/ February, 75, 110 – 122

Andersen, T. (1987) The Reflecting Team: Dialogue and Meta-Dialogue. Family Process, 26, 4, 415-428

Biringen, Z., Robinson, J.L. & Emde, R. N. (1993) The Emotional Availability Scales. Denver: University of Colorado Health Science Center

Biringen, Z., Skillern, S., Mone, J. & Pianta, R. (2005) Emotional availability is predictive of the emotional aspects of children’s ‘school readiness’. Journal of Early Childhood and Infant Psychology.

Bowlby, J. (1982) Attachment and Loss: Vol. 1 Attachment (2nd. Ed). New York: Basic Books

Bowlby, J. (1988) A Secure base: Clinical Applications of attachment theory. London: Routledge

Byng-Hall, B. (1995) Rewriting Family Scripts. Improvisation and Systems Change. New York: Guildford Press

Dalzell, R. & Sawyer, E. (2015) Putting Analysis into Child and Family Assessment. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Day, E. & Heismanne, E. (2010) Non-Violent Resistance Programme. For all those Working with Parents and Carers of Children and Adolescents with Violent Behaviours. Brighton: Pavilion Publishing House

Department for Education (2015) Working Together to Safeguard Children:

A guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. DFE-00130. London: Department for Education

Epston, D. & White, M. (1992) Experience, contradiction, narrative, and imagination: Selected papers of David Epson & Michael White, 1989-1991. Adelaide, Australia: Dulwich Centre Publications

Field, T. (1994) The effects of mother’s physical and emotional unavailability on emotion regulation. Monographs of the Society of Research in Child Development, 59, 2-3, 208-227

Hook, B. (2000) All about love. New Visions. New York: Harper Perennial

Jacob, P. (2014) From Gandhi to therapy: Some reflections on the meaning of non-violence in systemic practice. Context, 132, 34 -36

Jude, J. (2015) Seselelame – feelings in the body. Journal of family therapy ID: 3814525-1437435)

Jude, J. & Rivera-Gould, V. (2014) Fathers and Non-violent resistance.

Context, 132, 27 -28

Kabat- Zinn, J. (1990) Full Catastrophe Living: How to Cope with Stress, Pain and Illness using Mindfulness Mediation. London: Piatkus Books

Kaplan, G.C. & Main, N. M. (1984) The Adult Attachment Interview. Unpublished manuscript, Berkeley: University of California

Meins, E., Fernyhough, C., Wainwright, R., Gupta, M.D., Fradley, E., & Tuckey, M. (2002) Maternal Mind-Mindedness and Attachment Security as Predictors of Theory of Mind Understanding. Child Development, 73, 6, 1715-1726

Minuchin, S. (1974) Families and family therapy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

Newman, M., & Nolas, S-M. (2008) Innovation in therapeutic practice with ‘violent youth’: A discourse analysis of the non-violent resistance approach. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 8,141-150

Omer, O., Steinmetz, S.G. & Schlipe, A. Von (2013) The Anchoring Function: Parental Authority and the Parent –Child Bond. Family Process, 52, 193-206

Omer, H. (2004) Nonviolent resistance: A new approach to violent and self-destructive children. New York: Cambridge University Press

Palazzoli, S., Boscolo, L., Cecchin, G. & Prata, G. (1980) The problem of the referring person. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 6, 1, 3-9

Preston-Shoot, M. (2007) Effective Groupwork (2nd ed). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Shapiro, F. & Silk-Forrest, M. (1997) EMDR: the breakthrough therapy for overcoming anxiety, stress and trauma. New York: Basic Books

Shemmings, D. (2015) How social workers can use attachment theory in direct work. CommunityCare, [Accessed 23 April 2016 at]

Shotter, J. (2009) Listening in a Way that Recognizes/Realizes the World of ‘the Other’. International Journal of Listening, 23, 1, 1-23

Spratt, T. & Callan, J. (2004) Parent’s Views on Social Work Intervention in Child Welfare Cases. British Journal of Social Work, 34, 2,129-224

Sroufe, L.A. (2005) Attachment and Development: A Prospective, Longitudinal Study from birth to adulthood. Attachment and Human Development. 7, 4, 349 -367

Stock Whitaker, D. (1985) Using Groups to Help People. London & New York: Tavistock /Routledge



How to Cite

Jude, J., Rivera-Gould, V., & Flores, G. (2016). Using groupwork to enhance parental presence and emotional availability. Groupwork, 25(3), 41-57.