Reducing the impact of parents' court disputes on children’s mental health

Teenager standing between two parents in conflict


bbc children in need



Tavistock Relationships and Fitzrovia Youth in Action have been funded by BBC Children in Need to deliver therapeutic support to parents involved in court-based dispute and also a peer mentoring to the children of those parents. The project aims to help improve outcomes for children, via a combination of these two elements.

The therapeutic element – delivered by Tavistock Relationships at its centre in 56-60 Hallam Street, London W1W 6DA - will involve three ‘assessment sessions’ (two to parents individually, one to parents together, to agree a focus for the therapy), followed by 6 sessions of fortnightly couple therapy. There is an opportunity for a further three, monthly follow-up sessions if this is deemed helpful by all parties.

Mentalisation-based couple therapy for separated parents, who are ideally at the beginning stages of their disputes in court, aims to help parents think about the possible impact of their conflict in court on their children – and the impact of their conflict on their parenting.

The peer mentoring programme – a six to eight week programme covering a variety of aspects of young people’s lives and relationships – will be delivered to small groups of young people aged 10-18 by Fitzrovia Youth in Action from its centre in 66-68 Warren St, London W1T 5NZ.

The programme explores themes that have been linked to promoting positive mental health which have been co-produced by young people. These themes have been developed and shaped from evidence based models such as, ‘The 5 ways to Wellbeing’ and The ‘Resilience Framework’  as protective factors in supporting mental wellbeing. The themes that the programme will cover may vary as the group will be led and guided by the young people who attend themselves. However, core topics that are explored are usually: mental health, relationships, self-esteem and resilience.

The two elements of this project are very much linked. The parents must be able to engage in therapy, and the children of those parents must be interested in participating in the peer mentoring programme.

Who is eligible

· Parents prepared to sit in a room together (we will not accept parents who feel unable to do this).

· Parents should ideally have two or more children (all aged between 10 and 18). However, we will accept parents who only have one child in this age range, if the referrer strongly feels that the parents and child would benefit.

· Parents who are ideally at the start of their involvement in court proceedings, rather than those who have been in court-based dispute for years. However, we will accept parents who have been involved in long-standing proceedings if the referrer strongly feels that this project would be useful to the parents and children concerned (with the proviso, as above, that these parents are prepared to sit in a room together).

· Parents must undertake to talking to their child/children about the peer mentoring programme, and the children would need to be prepared to try an introductory session in that programme. Tavistock Relationships and Fitzrovia Youth in Action will be producing a leaflet for children explaining what the peer mentoring programme covers and how it can help young people.


The parents’ therapy and the peer mentoring group will be available from January 2020.

Information for parents and young people about the project

With our partner, Fitzrovia Youth in Action, we have produced:

  • a leaflet for parents about this project, which you can download here
  • a leaflet for young people aged 10-14 about this project, which you can download here
  • and a leaflet for young people aged 15-18 about this project, which you can download here.

How to contact us

Please email or phone Richard Meier on or 020 7380 1964 if you are interested in making a referral or finding out more about this project.