Video interaction guidance: using video feedback to support new parents under stress

24 October 2017

Becoming a parent is an overwhelming time for most men and women and this becomes even harder when you are facing additional challenges such as poverty, housing difficulties, language and cultural barriers, or a lack of support networks.

For families facing adversity, there is a risk that these additional challenges can negatively impact on the parent-infant relationship.

We know that parenting difficulties like these can be prevented and/or improved when parents are able to access support such as through parenting groups. However, parenting groups are not for everyone and it is often disadvantaged, vulnerable families that are the least likely to attend.

Increasingly, video feedback approaches, which can be delivered one to one and are strength based and empowering for families, are filling this gap. One such encouraging video-feedback intervention is video interaction guidance.

Video interaction guidance

Video interaction guidance (VIG) is a family-focused intervention which promotes sensitive and nurturing relationships between parents and their babies. VIG, unlike many other available programmes in the UK, aims to improve outcomes for both parents and their children, and can be delivered to both mums and dads.

VIG involves filming parents and their children playing together as they usually would and then the VIG practitioner selects certain clips of moments in the film which show things going well in their relationship, and shares these with the parent.

This ‘shared review’ is intended to promote the relationship between the parent and their child by discussing areas which were identified as concerns (such as parents wanting to understand more about what their baby might want to communicate to them).

VIG has been found to be particularly useful for disadvantaged families. Its strengths-based model helps to build parents’ self-confidence and strengthen the quality of their relationships with their babies. When parents are better able to hold their baby in mind, it has been found that they are also more likely to make health-promoting choices, including eating healthily and stopping smoking and drinking alcohol.

With such encouraging findings, we wanted to explore the use of VIG as delivered by health visitors and family support workers in the central London borough of Haringey, which has high levels of deprivation.

The Through Each Other’s Eyes project

The project aimed to train seven new Health Visitors and Family Support Workers to deliver VIG to families in the postnatal period within their current caseloads. 

We then wanted to explore the acceptability and feasibility of the intervention. For example, we wanted to know whether it was possible to recruit families to receive the intervention, whether they wanted to take part and whether they were able to complete the intervention.

We also wanted to know how the health visitors and family support workers found delivering VIG and how the families found receiving it.

Lastly, we wanted to know whether the parents that took part showed any changes in their mental health or in the parenting style.

Overall a total of 28 families completed VIG over the duration of the project and the highlights of the results are:

  • 71% of all families who were approached to take part completed all six sessions
  • parents who took part showed improvements in their self-confidence, mental health, parenting sensitivity and style and strength of bond with their baby
  • VIG practitioners were positive about the contribution of VIG towards their own professional development, mirroring the benefits to parents
  • VIG practitioners did, however, describe difficulties in managing their caseloads without ring-fenced time to complete the VIG preparation work
  • parents, VIG guiders and managers described the continued need for investment from early years teams to offer families this type of support
  • service managers reported that VIG met a current gap in service provision and they were invested in ensuring the intervention was embedded in their services beyond the timeline of the funded project.

Given the success of the project, we are working on making the intervention more widely available to other families facing adversity in other areas of the country. 

Read the full evaluation report for Through Each Other’s Eyes

Through Each Other’s Eyes was a one-year collaboration between the Mental Health Foundation, Whittington Health NHS Trust, the Association of Video Interaction Guidance UK and Haringey Local Authority Early Help Service and was funded by the Health Education England (HEE) Innovation Fund 2015/2016.

We need your help

We have delivered video interaction guidance as part of the Through Each Other's Eyes project. It's an innovative way of providing support to some of the families who need it most. To help us continue to help the hardest to reach families, we need your help. Please consider a donation today.

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