Does training in a systematic approach to emotional abuse improve the quality of children’s services?

This study aimed to investigate whether training and follow up consultation in Glaser's (2002) Framework for the Recognition, Assessment and Management of Emotional Abuse (FRAMEA) would improve professional activity in terms of clarity of conceptualisation, recognition of emotional abuse and the nature of professional response and intervention.

Project detail


Child maltreatment in general, and emotional abuse in particular are common and harmful, in many cases the harm extending into adulthood (Gilbert et al., 2009). Emotional abuse has posed a number of difficulties for professionals working in the field of child protection. These include multiple terms; difficulties defining emotional abuse, significant under-recognition, report and delay; difficulties in determinig severity; and sparse literature on proven interventions.

A coherent conceptual framework encompassing the definition, recognition, assessment and management of emotional abuse was developed in the UK and termed FRAMEA (Glaser, 2002). Its aim was to simplify the complex concerns about children and families which professionals encounter; increase rates of recognition of emotional abuse and; intervene more specifically when emotional abuse is recognised.


A repeated-measures design using quantitiative methods was employed.

Professionals in four children's services settings received a full day of training on FRAMEA and subsequent follow up consultations. 

Key findings

Several positive effects of the training were found with statistical significance p<0.05 and some trends towards positive effects, not reaching this threshold. There were significantly more reports of harmful parent-child interactions, regarded as emotional abuse after training.

Unfortunately, the results were not sustained over time and this suggests a that it may be difficult to introduce new thinking into already established ways of working, especially with such a brief training for professionals with a very heavy workload.  


Research brief

Glaser, D. (2011). How to deal with emotional abuse and neglect—Further development of a conceptual framework (FRAMEA). Child abuse & neglect,35(10), 866-875. DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2011.08.002

Glaser, D. (2002). Emotional abuse and neglect (psychological maltreatment): A conceptual framework. Child abuse & neglect, 26(6), 697-714. DOI: 10.1016/S0145-2134(02)00342-3  

Collaborating institutions

Department for Education (formerly the Department for Children, Schools and Families)

UCL Institute of Child Health

Project team

Dr Danya Glaser

Vivien Prior

Dr Katherine Auty

Dr Susan Tilki

Professor Peter Fonagy

Dr Eilis Kennedy

Dr Rob Senior