Nadia Ansar

PhD candidate

Funding and collaboration

  • University of Oslo
  • The Research Council of Norway
  • University of Bergen


Project period


PhD project

Tittel: "Emotion focused skills training - A randomized controlled study of a parental program for children between 6-13 with externalizing and/or internalizing symptoms.

Children with externalizing and internalizing symptoms has been linked to poor emotional competence, problematic understanding and regulation of emotions. A number of recent studies demonstrates the importance of parents' active involvement in the child's recovery process and support the empirical relationship between parenting style and child symptoms.

Emotional awareness and acceptance of painful emotional experience in parents leads to reduction in how these emotions are experienced in response to stressors in children. This makes the parent less vulnerable to rumination or suppression of negative emotional experience related to the child. In addition, it releases parents' emotional capacity to be mentally present and emotionally available for their child.

Although neuro-affective principles from research have been incorporated in the therapeutic approaches for adults, there are currently no programs that target these mechanisms in working with children with mental health difficulties.

Emotion Focused Skills Training (EFST) is an easily administrated, cost efficient treatment program specifically directed towards the parental role in promoting change in children. In this randomized controlled trial, we will compare experiential process oriented EFST with a psycho-educational version of EFST on parents of children aged 6-13 with externalizing or internalizing symptoms.

Parents of 236 children will receive a two days course and 6 hours of individually delivered treatment within a 10 weeks period, either with the experiential version of EFST or the psycho-educational version.

Feedback regarding outcome on externalizing and internalizing problems will be obtained from parents and teachers at 5 different periods: baseline, treatment completion and at 6, 9 and 12 months follow-up.

Research questions

  1. Does EFST lead to reduction in child symptoms, reported by parents and teachers? 
  2. What is the effect of the Experiential condition compared to the Psychoeducational condition, and are there any differences in gender? 
  3. Can parental functioning moderate or mediate child outcome? 
  4. How do parents experience to get this program? How is the experienced effect on the child and the parent-child interaction? 



Clinical psychologist, specialist in clinical family psychology and in Emotion Focused Therapy


Institutt for psykologisk rådgivning 

Research team


  • Jan Reidar Stiegler, PhD, Norwegian Institute of Emotion Focused Therapy,
  • Helene A. Nissen-Lie, associate professor, Psychological Institute, University of Oslo
  • Robert Elliott, professor, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow


  • Aslak Hjeltnes, associate professor, University of Bergen
  • Signe Hjelen Stige, fassociate professor, University of Bergen
  • Per Einar Binder, professor, University of Bergen


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  • Tessand, Heidi Elisabeth Svendsen; Madsen, Ole Jacob; Berg, Henrik; Flor, Jørgen; Stjernen Tisløv, Ingvild & Hansen, Lene Sommerseth [Show all 13 contributors for this article] (2021). Vi vil beholde den kritiske journalistikken i tidsskriftet. Tidsskrift for Norsk Psykologforening. ISSN 0332-6470.
  • Ansar, Nadia; Nissen-Lie, Helene, Amundsen ; Elliott, Robert & Stiegler, Jan Reidar (2021). Emotion Focused Skills Training: A randomized controlled trial for parents of children with mental health symptoms. Paper-in-Panel on "Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT) in various forms", chaired by Franz Caspar .

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Published Mar. 9, 2020 9:57 AM - Last modified May 15, 2020 2:14 PM