Current Research

Enhancing a child recovery programme with family skills training- Lebanon

Aala and colleagues Professor of Child and Family Psychology Rachel Calam and Dr Kim Cartwright, enhanced the internationally used child recovery programme Teaching Recovery techniques (TRT) to include family skills training for parents of children with high trauma distress. This enhanced version is called TRT + Parenting. The team piloted TRT + Parenting in Turkey to test the feasibility and acceptability of delivering this programme to Syrian Refugee families and data showed highly encouraging  results. This was very successful in its pilot phase and now needs more thorough evaluation through more extensive field trials in humanitarian settings. Therefore Aala and colleague Professor Calam are now currently exploring the potential of the TRT + Parenting programme to enhance mental health in families displaced by the Syrian conflict and are conducting a study to compare TRT + Parenting with the original TRT programme to see if the adapted TRT+ Parenting programme is more beneficial to families.

The study is being conducted in the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon with Syrian refugees that have fled their homes in Syria. On the 17th-18th February Aala will conduct TRT + Training for 16 facilitators in Beqaa Valley via Skype to test the model of utilising tele-training methods. She will also train two research assistants that will support this trial in Lebanon on research methods such as data collection, measure completion, and complying with ethical guidelines.

This is a collaboration between the UNODC in Vienna and Lebanon and The University of Manchester.

Testing the feasibility and effectiveness of a parenting conversation group and booklet- Palestine

In 2015, following Aala’s exploratory research with Syrian refugee families in refugee contexts such as refugee camps (add link ), Aala and colleagues Professor Rachel Calam and Dr Kim Cartwright developed a leaflet which included two A4 pages of context and culturally sensitive parenting information and a questionnaire to collect demographic data and feedback on the usefulness of the leaflet. Working with an NGO in Syria they distributed 3000 parenting information leaflets to families living in a conflict zone in Syria via bakery supplies. The team received a response rate of 1783 completed questionnaires, really highlighting how important these parenting information messages were to families in this context.

Aala and her team have expanded the leaflet into a booklet to demonstrate key parenting skills in a simple and engaging way. The booklet, titled ‘Caregiving for Children through Conflict and Displacement’, is aimed at building parenting confidence and self-regulatory skills and enhancing child and family psychological well-being and is based on evidence-based family and parenting strategies drawn from the parenting literature. It has been tailored to the context of families that have experienced conflict and displacement using the findings from interviews Aala has conducted, focus groups and consultations, humanitarian organisation mental health and psychosocial assessments and research conducted by other academics. Along with the booklet, Aala and her team have developed a 2 hour Conversation Group to be used with caregivers. The Conversation Group expands the information in the booklet in an engaging way and both are used together.

Aala will be travelling to Palestine in early March 2017 to set up and train facilitators to run a research study to explore the feasibility and effectiveness of the implementation of this newly developed booklet and associated seminar with caregivers in Nablus, Palestine.

This is a collaboration between the UNODC in Vienna and Jerusalem and The University of Manchester.

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