I have worked within the field of child protection for 11 years, across local authority and residential settings. For the past seven years, I have worked independently for local authorities, completing parenting assessments and offering mentalization based parenting intervention.
My PhD research focused on exploring the influencing factors on the outcome of parent-child intervention and followed parents placed in either a residential or foster-care placement with their babies for 12 weeks. I identified distinct thematic differences between those who had a positive outcome and returned to the community with their babies and those that did not, and these themes became factors termed ‘change facilitators’ or ‘change inhibitors’. My study concluded that a focus on identifying ‘change facilitators’ and ‘change inhibitors’, at the family assessment stage could help to inform the types of interventions required. This approach may therefore provide families with an increased likelihood of making the desired improvements and remaining together.
I also hold an honorary lecturer position for the University of Kent International Centre for Child Protection and I am a Research in Practice (RIP) Associate, contributing to teaching designed to ensure current research findings become embedded into practice. Additional achievements include working alongside Community Care to provide social workers with effective direct work techniques and publishing guidance on understanding attachment relationships and how to write about this for court purposes. I have also been an ‘Expert Panelist’ for The Guardian’s discussion on ‘How public services can work together on infant mental health’.
Loving, A & Shemmings, D. (In press) Working with cases of neglect and emotional abuse. In Fernandez, F. &Delfabbro, P. (eds) Child Protection and the Care Continuum: Theoretical, Empirical and Practice Insights. Crows Nest: Routledge, pp.121-142
Loving, A. (2018) Attachment, Trauma and Parenting in Social Work Practice, Ph.D., Royal Holloway, University of London.
Cook, A. (2014) Exploring mechanisms of maltreatment in a family, in D. Shemmings and Y. Shemmings, (eds) Assessing Disorganized Attachment Behaviour in Children: An Evidenced Based Model for understanding and Supporting Families. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, pp. 67-76.
Shemmings, D., Shemmings, Y., Wilkins, D., Febrer, Y., Cook, A., Feeley, F., & Denham.C. (2013) Tools social workers can use to talk to children. Available: https://www.communitycare.co.uk/tools-social-workers-can-use-to-talk-to-children/
Cook A. (2012) Combating neglect using the principles of attachment theory. Children England Quarterly Journal, 51, pp. 8-9.
Shemmings, D., Shemmings, Y. and Cook, A.(2012) Gaining the trust of highly resistant families: insights from attachment theory and research. Child & Family Social Work, 17(2), pp. 130-137.