Mothers, Fathers, and Parental Systems: A Conceptual Model of Parental Engagement in Programmes for Child Mental Health—Connect, Attend, Participate, Enact (CAPE)

Patrycja J. Piotrowska, Lucy A. Tully, Rhoshel K Lenroot, Eva R. Kimonis, David Hawes, Caroline Moul, Paul J. Frick, V. Anderson, Mark R Dadds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


Parenting programmes are one of the best researched and most effective interventions for reducing child mental health problems. The success of such programmes, however, is largely dependent on their reach and parental engagement. Rates of parental enrolment and attendance are highly variable, and in many cases very low; this is especially true of father involvement in parenting programmes. This paper proposes a conceptual model of parental engagement in parenting programmes—the CAPE model (Connect, Attend, Participate, Enact) that builds on recent models by elaborating on the interdependent stages of engagement, and its interparental or systemic context. That is, we argue that a comprehensive model of parental engagement will best entail a process from connection to enactment of learned strategies in the child’s environment, and involve consideration of individual parents (both mothers and fathers) as well as the dynamics of the parenting team. The model provides a framework for considering parent engagement as well as associated facilitators and mechanisms of parenting change such as parenting skills, self-efficacy, attributions, and the implementation context. Empirical investigation of the CAPE model could be used to further our understanding of parental engagement, its importance for programme outcomes, and mechanisms of change. This will guide future intervention refinement and developments as well as change in clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-161
Number of pages16
JournalClinical Child and Family Psychology Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Child mental health
  • Co-parenting
  • Father involvement
  • Parental engagement
  • Parenting programme

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