Repairing relationships between mothers and children who experience intergenerational trauma, neglect and abuse is the focus of a new approach to child protection.

In a state-first for non-government organisations, Centacare has appointed child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr Jackie Amos to train and support staff in aspects of Parallel Parent and Child Therapy (P-PACT).

The therapy is used to work with mothers, and children aged 3 to 12, caught in cycles of dysfunction and distress.

P-PACT combines attachment-focussed interventions and trauma-based therapy in a single framework to individually support the mother and child, as well as their relationship.

The therapy offers new hope in the prevention of child abuse and neglect arising from a mother’s personal trauma and its impact on her mental health and parenting.

“The mother might be struggling because she’s unwell due to her own trauma history while her child has emotional and behavioural problems at home and at school,’’ Dr Amos said.

“As a result, the mother and child become severely troubled by their relationship.

“Through P-PACT, we work to repair this relationship by supporting the parent and child in parallel to change their beliefs about themselves and one another.’’


Dr Amos will work with Centacare’s Specialist Family Preservation Foster Care team, Kids in Focus program, Targeted Intervention Service and family preservation and reunification teams.

Her partnership with Centacare will inform her research around how different principles of P-PACT might be useful in diverse settings.

Dr Amos is currently a PhD candidate with the University of South Australia health economics and social policy group.