Sophie Russell
Sophie Russell
Sophie Russell

Sophie Russell

‘Remember the time …. Family mental health and associations with parent-child conversations’

University of Wollongong, NSW
Awarded 2020
Co-funded by the Estate of Josephine Margaret Redfern & Ross Edward Redfern

“Reminiscing interventions have been effective in typical children’s development, as well as with children with behavioural issues.”

Mental Health Research Grants

Researcher Profile

Sophie completed a Bachelor of Psychology with First Class Honours in 2016, and worked in the mental health sector before continuing onto postgraduate studies. Currently, Sophie is a Psychologist conducting research in a Clinical Psychology PhD at the University of Wollongong. Sophie has worked casually in research throughout her studies and is passionate about mental health.

Sophie has a particular interest in parent-child interactions and how this can influence childhood mental health and family well-being. Sophie is looking forward to the years ahead and hopes that her research will improve the mental health of children and families in Australian communities.

Project Summary

This research aims to develop a clinical intervention for childhood anxiety and depression. The focus of this research is parent-child interactions and how everyday conversations – known as reminiscing – help children learn about their own and others emotions. These reminiscing conversations occur about things that have happened, outside of the ‘heat of the moment’ (e.g., “Why were you worried when we went to Nannas yesterday?”). This research focuses on the way we speak to children, rather than just what we say. This is one way in which parent mental health could be associated with children’s emotional development. If we can help improve family wellbeing, we can potentially disrupt the transgenerational transmission of mental health difficulties.

The first study in this research will look at how parent mental health symptoms over time is associated with child wellbeing and the quality of reminiscing conversations. This study utilises a uniquely large dataset of 2000 parent-child pairs from the general population, and will be the first to examine parent mental health with reminiscing conversations.

The second study will focus on the conversations occurring in families experiencing mental health difficulties. This research will examine how parents share family stories with their children as well as talking about future situations. As anxiety tends to focus on upcoming events, this study will have unique insight into how this could relate to childhood disorders.

Once we understand how these ideas relate, the final study will develop a reminiscing intervention to support families with children experiencing mental health difficulties.

Supervisors: Associate Professor Jane Herbert & Dr Amy Bird.

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