Prevention through training
Cristina Nunes coordinates the Psychology Research Centre (CIP), and the University Centre for Psychology Research (CUIP) at UAlg. Along with her research team, she works to adapt the Family Training and Support Programme (FAF) to Portuguese needs, basing her work on consolidated, empirical evidence of the programme’s success in other countries.
The FAF is a psychoeducational community programme designed directly for parents, enabling them to optimise their parenting techniques. It is based on a systemic perspective geared towards family preservation. In 2017, the Municipality of Albufeira funded the project, arranging for municipal agents to be trained (GOP 2017/5017) and the FAF to be implemented in the municipality.
Recommendation Rec (2006)19 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe encouraged States to adopt appropriate legislative, administrative and financial measures in order to provide sufficient support for parents when raising their children. This Recommendation, among other actions, encouraged European countries to implement preventive and psychoeducational measures for all families, as well as providing specialised services to support at-risk families. This aim of this strategy was to prevent abuse and the unnecessary removal of minors from their homes.
In order for the approach to be applied successfully, the specific needs of each family must be documented. “In Portugal, the knowledge we currently have about families at psychosocial risk is still limited. Our knowledge is particularly lacking when it comes to knowing the needs of these families, as well as the skills and resources available to them,” explains the researcher.
“Aware of this lack of knowledge, our team of researchers has been jointly working on several projects with the Universities of Seville and Huelva since 2009, studying the trajectories and life contexts of parents and their interpersonal relationships,” reveals Cristina Nunes.
In Portugal, there are currently only a small number of parental education programmes based on evidence, or that meet international quality standards. If no initiative is taken in the area of family development and training, even more significant inequalities are certain to emerge by 2030 in the areas of education, the economy and society in general.
As such, this project is a resource through which to promote family well-being and a more inclusive and equitable society. The project aims to contribute to the Goals of “Good health and well-being”, “Quality education” and “Reduced inequalities”.
Cristina Nunes has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, a PhD in Psychology and Post-Doc in Psychology and is a researcher for the Psychology Research Centre (CIP), and the University Centre for Psychology Research (CUIP) of the University of Algarve