Journal Article

The Significance of Past Abuse to Current Intervention Strategies with Depressed Mothers in Child and Family Care

Michael Sheppard

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 33, issue 6, pages 769-786
Published in print September 2003 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online September 2003 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
The Significance of Past Abuse to Current Intervention Strategies with Depressed Mothers in Child and Family Care

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There is now considerable evidence that a high proportion of families subject to child and family care social work intervention contain depressed mothers. There is also evidence that the presence of clinical depression is associated, amongst these clients, with child abuse. Vulnerability to both depression and child abuse have been traced back to the early child‐care experiences of those who are currently parents, expressed in child abuse in terms of intergenerational transmission, although it is also clear for both that further factors also contribute to this vulnerability. Despite the link between maternal depression and child abuse, we have little evidence about the processes and mechanisms, based on social workers judgements about the situation, by which families with depressed mothers are more likely than other clients to be involved with intervention for child abuse. This paper seeks to ‘map’ the pathways and the intermediate mechanisms which provide the link between the experience of past abuse and social workers intervention strategies. Drawing on theoretically significant factors, it focuses on the following variables: the experience of past abuse, the mother's attributed character, attachment and bonding, child behavioural problems and intervention strategy. The paper demonstrates a number of significant ‘paths’ through which families become subject to one or other intervention strategy. It shows that, while an emphasis on needs assessment is to be welcomed (Department of Health, 1999), they need to be considered (i) within a theoretical framework which helps social workers make sense of, and respond to situations and (ii) through an understanding of longitudinal dimensions (key factors in mothers' earlier life) which are aspects of this theoretical understanding.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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