Reduce Parental Conflict Using Motivational Interviewing Techniques

We know that parental conflict is extremely harmful to children and can quickly escalate if it is not resolved and managed appropriately.  We have used our knowledge of motivational interviewing, family trauma, and the family safeguarding model to create an evidence-based programme for practitioners working with families experiencing parental conflict, excluding domestic abuse.

Our two-day programme uses real cases to allow participants to explore the causes of parental conflict and acquire motivational interviewing knowledge, skills, and techniques to help parents change problematic behaviours. The programme is person-child-centred as the primary aim is to improve outcomes for children and their families.

Target Audience

Initially developed for Early Help Practitioners and Family Workers, practitioners from other services could benefit from attending. We have delivered the programme to Social Workers and others named in the Statutory Guidance, Working Together to Safeguard Children.

Learning Objectives


  • Understand the difference between parental conflict and domestic abuse to ensure the correct response (local authority threshold criteria)
  • Understanding destructive parental conflict and parental relationship distress at an early stage
  • Develop an understanding of how conflict escalates in the parental relationship
  • Understanding how trauma and intersectionality/diversity concerns affect a person’s experience and their capacity to change
  • Acquire a working knowledge of the domains of a trauma-informed social work family assessment
  • Acquire knowledge of motivational interviewing and the cycle of change


  • Apply a range of assessment tools
  • Apply motivational interviewing when working with parents experiencing conflict
  • Use motivational interviewing strategies to de-escalate parental conflict
  • Use motivational interviewing to work with parents through the stages
  • Develop a collaborative SMART plan to support parents focusing on positive outcomes for children


  • Intervene early, listen to parents and offer help
  • Recognise how our own beliefs, experience and attitudes might influence professional involvement and take action to avoid this
  • Ensure the perspectives of each family member remains central while effectively safeguarding children discharging our professional duties
  • Be confident in working with parental conflict without bias while reinforcing the rights of children experiencing parental conflict and providing support for children and adults