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Psychopathology in families, prevention and intervention


NB Language spoken is English unless only Dutch-speaking students participate


The objective of this course is to gain insight into a) the role of family processes in the development of childhood psychopathology, and b) the theoretical background, content and application of intervention and prevention programs. Preventing and reducing child psychopathology is an important task for health care workers. To be able to effectively prevent and treat child psychopathology from a family perspective, it is important to first study which family processes protect from or foster developmental psychopathology. Topics that will be discussed during the course include characteristics of the parents (psychopathology, marital relationship), parenting practices (sensitivity, discipline), influences of siblings, etcetera. The course will continue by discussing the theoretical background and content of interventions for (the prevention of) psychopathology in children and parenting problems. Many studies and meta-analyses have already tested which approaches are most effective. Effectiveness studies are critically scrutinized, using meta-analytic evidence, and it will be examined why and for whom interventions are effective. Students receive a first introduction in how the VIPP program (Video-feedback Intervention to promote Positive Parenting) can be used in practice. Additionally, different intervention methods like cognitive behavior therapy are discussed, and various assignments (e.g., observing sensitive parenting) will illustrate intervention theory and practice.

Course objectives

  • To gain knowledge on the mechanisms underlying the influence of different family processes on child psychopathology;

  • To gain insight in the theoretical backgrounds and practical applications of preventive parenting intervention programs, including the translation of theory into (clinical) programs;

  • To be introduced to different methods of intervening in families with children and/or parents at risk, and focus on how to implement the Video-feedback Intervention to promote Positive Parenting (VIPP) program;

  • To learn to critically evaluate how preventive intervention programs are evaluated and tested;

  • To practice observational skills in evaluating sensitive parenting.

  • To acquire experience with the interpretation and judgment of empirical papers in this field;

  • To learn to process scientific literature and use it to form opinions and new ideas.


Mode of instruction

Lectures and assignments.

Assessment method

  • Written closed book exam (50%)

  • Take-home exam (average of five assignments) (30%)

  • Oral assignment (20%)


During this course Blackboard will be used.

Reading list

  • Juffer, F., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M.J., en Van IJzendoorn, M.H. (eds.) (2008). Promoting positive parenting. An attachment-based intervention. Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah NJ. Attention: the paperback is much cheaper than the hardcover. There is only one version of the book: the 2007 version is the same as the 2008 version.

  • Articles: will be announced on BB.
    Book at the bookstore. Literature can be studied during the course (not necessary to read it before the course).


Please note that separate uSis registration is mandatory for lectures, seminars, exams and re-exams. Student who do not register, cannot attend courses or take exams.


  • Registration for the lectures of the course is possible as of 100 calendar days through 10 calendar days before the first lecture at the latest;

  • Registration for the seminars of the course is possible as of 100 calendar days through 10 calendar days before the first seminar at the latest.


Student must register for each exam through uSis. This is only possible until 10 calendar days before the exam. More information on exam registration

Contact information

Co-ordinator of this course is Shelley van der Veek