Addressing the evidence gap: protocol for an effectiveness study of Circle of Security Parenting, an attachment-based intervention

Anne-Marie Maxwell, Catherine McMahon, Anna Huber, Erinn Hawkins, Rebecca Elizabeth Reay*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    3 Citations (Scopus)
    315 Downloads (Pure)


    Parenting interventions informed by attachment theory are an increasingly popular choice for clinical services that work with parents of babies and young children. Circle of Security Parenting (COS-P) is one such intervention, which has had extraordinary uptake internationally. Evidence for COS-P is very limited, however; there are few published studies, most with very small samples, and findings are mixed. This paper describes a multi-site evaluation of COS-P, designed to address this evidence gap.
    This is a non-randomized controlled effectiveness study of COS-P in four community child and family health settings. Participants are caregivers of children aged 6 years and under, who present to study sites with parenting challenges in the early parenting period. Participants are recruited through these sites, and allocated to either treatment or waitlist control condition based on their capacity to attend the next available COS-P group. Outcomes (changes in caregiving attitudes and capacities linked to child social and emotional development, and caregiver depression symptoms) are assessed at baseline and post-treatment/waitlist using self-report questionnaires (all participants), and a narrative interview and 5-minute parent-child interaction (a sub-sample of participants). Additionally, potential moderators of the intervention (demographic, symptom severity) will be tested.
    This is one of the first controlled evaluations of COS-P, and the first in Australia where COS-P dissemination has been particularly widespread. Results from this study will provide valuable information about the effectiveness of COS-P for caregivers with early parenting challenges, and will increase understanding of what works for whom.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number575752
    Pages (from-to)1-12
    Number of pages12
    JournalFrontiers in Global Women's Health
    Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2020

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • Circle of Security Parenting (COS-P)
    • parenting education
    • attachment-based intervention
    • caregiving representations
    • parent mentalization


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