SFPA Research Updates


New Research Publications: In the last year, SFPA Director Tina Adkins, Ph.D., has had two papers published based on research conducted through the Sue Fairbanks Psychoanalytic Academy:


  •            Adkins. T., Reisz, S., Hasdemir, D., & Fonagy, P. (2021). Family Minds: A randomized controlled trial of a group intervention to improve foster parents’ reflective functioning. Journal of Developmental PsychopathologyRead the entire article for freehere.
  •            Adkins, T., Reisz, S., Doerge, K., & Nulu, S. (2020). Adverse Childhood Experience histories in foster parents: Connections to foster children’s emotional and behavioral difficulties. Journal of Child Abuse & Neglect. Read our synopsis over the study, here.

Project Research Update: Validation Study for the RF-FMSS: Reflective Functioning Five Minute Speech Sample


The RF-FMSS assessment was developed specifically for the Family Minds intervention, a psycho-educational intervention designed to increase the mentalizing skills of foster and adoptive parents. Presently, the only well-established measures of (parental) reflective functioning, such as the Reflective Functioning scale (RF; Fonagy et al., 1998), are scored on the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI; George et al., 1985) or the Parental Development Interview (PDI; Slade et al., 2004). These measures have many advantages, such as they can provide clinically rich and detailed data that allow a thorough exploration of parental reflective functioning that is simply not achievable with questionnaires. Despite these benefits, their use in large-scale studies are hindered by the fact that they can be cost prohibitive and time intensive (Luyten, Fonagy, Lowyck, et al., 2012). Given that interview assessments can yield rich data, a new shorter way to assess parental reflective functioning was created by Dr. Adkins using an adjusted Five Minute Speech Sample protocol (FMSS; Gottschalk & Gleser, 1969), coded for RF in the style of the AAI or PDI.


Dr. Adkins began this study right before COVID really took hold, in January 2020. It was designed to be an online study, so conveniently we were already conducting parenting interviews on Zoom when workplaces shut down. Our goal with this study has been to have 60 parents participate in both a PDI interview, as well as the RF-FMSS so we can compare the results of these two measures.


As of May 2021, almost 60 parents have completed both interviews. The sample thus far is 2/3rds mothers and 1/3rd fathers. I’ve been trying to recruit a diverse sample, but thus far, it’s a very educated sample. However, I have managed to recruit a more diverse sample with regards to ethnicity, with 60% White, 25% Hispanic, 6% African American and 5% Asian. We are currently transcribing interviews and hope to start coding right away. More to come in the next few months!