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Invited Keynotes

The International Acadely of Family Psychology is pleased to announce the following keynote presentations to be held during its 9th Conference

Parenting for a Digital Future: How hopes and fears about technology shape children’s lives

Sonia Livingstone

London School of Economics and Political Science

Parenting for a Digital Future: How hopes and fears about technology shape children’s lives was researched just before the pandemic yet it became more relevant since lockdown led us all to rely on screens more than we could ever have imagined. In this lecture, I will draw on qualitative and survey research with parents to argue that the changes that digital technologies bring to children’s lives act as a lightning rod for deep-seated anxieties about the present, amplified by a felt lack of control over their child(ren)’s future. This is made harder by the practical, regulatory and design challenges in managing technologies, exacerbated by the dystopian imaginary promoted in the media. In many ways, parents are resourceful, accommodating what one parent called ‘the tsunami of devices’ arriving in their homes by adopting any of three distinct genres or constellations of practices – embrace, balance and resist. On the one hand, the families most in need are often those who place the most hopes in technology, and embrace it the most enthusiastically, although the outcomes may not deliver as they hope. One the other hand, parents constantly risk being outsmarted by the latest innovations which, in turn, exacerbate inequalities, disintermediate parents, and burden them with greater responsibilities but reduced support.

Sonia Livingstone FBA, OBE is a Professor of Social Psychology at the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She has published 20 books including “Parenting for a Digital Future: How hopes and fears about technology shape children’s lives.” She directs the projects “Global Kids Online” (with UNICEF), the “Digital Futures Commission” (with 5Rights Foundation), and she is Deputy Director of the UKRI-funded “Nurture Network.” Since founding the 33 country EU Kids Online network, Sonia has advised the UK government, European Commission, European Parliament, Council of Europe, OECD and UNICEF. See

Supporting Traumatized Children and Youth after Flight or Displacement

Rita Rosner

Catholic University Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, Germany

Focusing young people’s mental health problems following forced migration or displacement, this presentation aims to provide insight into evidence-based psychological support for children and adolescents with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTBS). It starts with a brief overview of the frequency and course of mental disorders in children and adolescents after flight and displacement, and describes the interventions studied so far for the treatment of post-traumatic symptoms. In the second part of the presentation, trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) will be presented in more depth. In this manualized approach, adult caregivers (either a parent or – in the case of institutional placement – professional caregivers) are substantially involved, more so than in other therapeutic approaches. TF-CBT comprises several components, such as psychoeducation and promotion of caregiver parenting skills, relaxation, emotion regulation, cognitive coping and processing, development of a trauma narrative (in sensu exposure), exposure in vivo of the symptom-triggering stimuli, joint sessions with the caregiver, and promotion of future safety. The interventions will be demonstrated using video examples. The specific adaptations in the treatment of refugees will be presented.

Prof. Dr. Rita Rosner

Prof. Dr. Rita Rosner, is psychological psychotherapist and professor of Clinical and Biological Psychology at the Catholic University Eichstätt-Ingolstadt. In the 1990ties, Rita Rosner investigatedthe links between flight, war, migration and psychological distress in the aftermath of the wars in former Yugoslavia. Current research projects focus on the treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in children and adolescents after sexual and physical abuse, migration specific aspects of service use after childhood abuse and the treatment of Prolonged Grief Disorder in adults. From 2006 to 2008 Rita Rosner served as president of the German Society for Psychotraumatology, and from 2009 to 2015 she was board member of the European Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ESTSS). She is a co-founder and co-editor of the European Journal of Psychotraumatology (EJPT).

Promoting Resilience for Children Exposed to Post-Separation/Divorce Interparental Conflict: Theory and Intervention

Irwin Sandler & Karey L. O’Hara

Arizona State University, USA

Children are exposed to a wide range of stressful conditions that threaten their healthy development and increase their risk for a wide range of mental and physical health disorders. Yet, most children are resilient and do not develop serious mental health problems after stress exposure. This presentation will focus on one major source of stress, interparental conflict following divorce, and describe research on two sources of resilience – the quality of parenting children receive, and children’s adaptive coping efforts. We will present theoretical studies that identify the conditions under which each resilience resource –parenting and coping – protects children from the negative impact of conflict. We will also present new research that tests whether the effectiveness of structured online interventions strengthen these resilience resources. One study tested whether an online parenting after divorce program reduces children’s exposure to conflict following divorce and reduced children’s mental health problems. A second project involves a series of research studies to develop an online coping intervention that is effective in improving children’s capacity to cope with the stress of interparental conflict after parental separation/divorce.

Prof. Karey O'Hara, Ph.D.

Karey L. O’Hara, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University. She conducts research on risk and protective factors that influence how youth and families adjust after stressful events that involve contact with family, juvenile, or criminal court systems, such as parental divorce and parental incarceration. Currently, her research focuses on designing, optimizing, and evaluating interventions to promote the health and well-being of youth who experience these challenging stressors. Her work is currently funded by a career development award from the National Institute of Mental Health (K01MH120321).

Prof. Irwin Sandler, Ph.D.

Irwin Sandler, Ph.D. is a Research Professor at the REACH Institute at Arizona State University. He has written extensively about theories concerning the effects of stressful events on children and sources of resilience including parenting, coping and social support. Along with his colleagues, he has developed interventions to promote resilience for children who have experienced two major stressors, parental divorce and bereavement. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of these intervention have demonstrated positive impact to reduce child mental health problems up to 15 years later. Currently he is working on dissemination of these programs including translating them into online formats.

Family services and social networks in supporting coparenting

among new parents

Anna Rönkä

University of Jyväskylä (JYU), Finland

Coparenting, denoting shared parenting responsibilities and mutual support between parents, is an important resource for families, especially during early parenthood. The development of coparenting depends on how parents learn to work as a team over time. Nevertheless, coparenting is learned in places, services, and networks where new parents meet and share their experiences and receive mutual support. Coparenting is also strongly affected by gender ideologies, work cultures and family policies. In this presentation I address the following questions: What kind of social support do expectant couples look for in constructing their coparental relationship? In what ways do Finnish low-threshold family center services promote coparenting? Does the social support available to new parents meet their needs? I present findings from “Learning to coparent: A longitudinal, cross-national study on the construction of coparenting in the transition to parenthood (CopaGloba)”. This keynote is based on two datasets collected during the COVID-19 pandemic: interview data with expectant couples in Finland (n = 30), Portugal (n = 30) and Japan (n = 30) and focus-group interview data with Finnish family professionals (n =21). We found that early parenthood is a moment when new parents are open to the active construction of coparenthood and seek support and models from their networks. The expectant parents reported that the pandemic had impacted their preparations for coparenthood by restricting the father’s participation, decreasing the availability of societal support, restricting access to social networks, and increasing the number of stress factors. We conclude that professionals should be available to discuss with families their plans and arrangements relating to the sharing of duties and involvement of both parents in childcare and parenthood.

Prof. Anna Rönkä, Ph.D.

Anna Rönkä is a Doctor of Psychology and professor in education and adult education at the University of Jyväskylä (JYU), Finland. She is a nationally and internationally recognized expert on daily family life, parenthood, and coparenthood, especially in the context of the 24/7 economy. She is also interested in family services, parental education and innovative family research methods and interventions. She has led several large cross-national studies, such as Families 24/7 and Learning to Coparent (CopaGloba). Her most recent research focuses on the construction of coparenthood during the transition to parenthood in a cross-national context. She is currently (year 2022) on a research sabbatical, granted by the Science Council of JYU. Her sabbatical includes international mobility to the Universities of Malta and Porto.

The PsyCorps model of Mental Health Support Training

John Thoburn

Research indicates that mental health support is useful for survivors of natural or man-made disasters. Research further indicates that survivors receive the most benefit from natural occurring social networks. Thus, this lecture will provide a rationale for training indigenous volunteers in psychological first aid for the purpose of providing mental health support to friends and family. The lecture will trace the development of psychological first aid models and follow with an example of the implementation of a process model used with survivors of the armed conflict in Ukraine.

With the physical and psychological toll Ukrainians are suffering due to the ongoing conflict with Russia, PsyCorps: Psychology Support International, was invited by the Honorary Consulate of Ukraine in Seattle, in collaboration with Lesya Ukrainka Volyn National University psychology faculty, and the Rector of Paltova Seminary, to train local community volunteers as well as educators, teachers and medical personnel in mental health first aid and traumatology treatment. A team of four psychologists travelled to refugee camps in Poland and Romania, and the cities of Chernivtsi and Lutsk for two weeks from June 25 through July 9, 2022. This lecture provides insight into these most recent experiences of working with the PsyCorps model aiming to provide mental health support to survivors of the war in Ukraine.

Dr. John Thoburn is Professor Emeritus of Clinical Psychology at Seattle Pacific University. He is a Washington State licensed psychologist and marriage and family therapist and is Board Certified in Couple and Family Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology. Dr. Thoburn is the past president of numerous psychological associations including the International Academy of Family Psychology. He has been a featured speaker, trainer and clinician for decades working to integrate couple and family psychology and international trauma psychology. His international training and teaching in disaster and family psychology has included time in Uganda, Bosnia, India, Sri Lanka, China, Jordan/Syria, Haiti, Jamaica and Japan. Dr. Thoburn has received the Florence Kaslow Distinguished Contribution to International Family Psychology award, the Family Psychologist of the Year award from the Society for Couple and Family Psychology, the International Humanitarian Award from the American Psychological Association and the Scholar of the Year award from Seattle Pacific University. Dr. Thoburn is the author of dozens of peer reviewed articles and book chapters on family psychology. He is co-author of the books: Family Psychology: Theory, Research and Practice, published by Praeger Press and co-editor of Clergy Sexual Misconduct: A Systems Approach to Prevention, Intervention and Oversight, published by GentlePath Press.