I am a clinical psychologist and graduated 2010 from Stockholm University. I teach Developmental Psychology and Attachment and Affect theory at the Psychological Department at Stockholm university as well as at the Karolinska Institute. I also teach DC:0-3R.
Currently I hold a PhD position at the KBH unit of Karolinska Institute, where I am a part of the research team for the Small Step intervention for infants at risk of developing cerebral palsy and their families.
SMALL STEP early intervention program
Children with early brain lesions are at risk of developing cerebral palsy (CP). The brain lesions resulting in CP typically appear during pregnancy or around birth. This has a drastic impact not just on the infant at risk but also on the whole family. There is a lack of evidence whether early interventions for infants at risk for developing CP have a positive effect on infant development. As the field of neuroscience has demonstrated that there is a possible window of opportunity early in development, when high activity in the motor system can lead to activity-dependent plasticity, interventions for infants at risk for CP aim to make use of neuroplastic mechanisms. The Small Step intervention consists of separate blocks of intensive training for the infant, focusing on hand use, mobility and communication. The intervention also includes family support, coaching and education, as the parents’ psychological health and ability to come to terms with the new life situation is believed to be of importance. Studies indicate that there is a heightened risk for parents to experience high levels of stress as well as depressive and anxiety related symptoms following traumatic birth and risk for brain injury. Parental depression, anxiety and distress can alter early interactions. Fear for the infant’s immediate safety and future development, separations caused by the need for extensive hospital care are some factors that may impact parental mental health. Optimal development of the infant-parent relationship could also be at risk, which in turn may hamper infant development. Studies of the importance of early support for families with preterm infants at risk have provided valuable insights, but this is not sufficiently studied in families with infants at risk for CP. The proposed doctoral plan includes two studies on infant development following early intervention addressing hand use, mobility and communication and two studies mapping parental aspects in families with infants at risk of developing CP. The significance of the doctoral studies is expansion of current knowledge concerning efficacy of early interventions for infants at risk of developing CP. Moreover, the exploration of parental mental health and internal representations (i.e. how parents reflect and express thoughts and feelings about their child) of infants at risk of developing CP expands the knowledge within this field. Thirdly, the doctoral project investigates how participation in an early intervention programme may affect parental mental health, parent-child interaction as well as parental internal representations. The overall aim of the doctoral project is to extend knowledge of the effects of participating in an early intervention program from both the infants’ and the parents’ perspective in families where the infant is at risk for developing CP. More specifically the aim is; 1) to evaluate the effects of the Small Step intervention on the overall development of the infants over time and between study groups, 2) to map parental levels of depression, anxiety and stress and 3) to increase knowledge of parental representations, parental sensitivity and quality of interaction. Data will be compared over time within respective group as well as between groups.