Residential Services

The parent and baby unit provides supported residential accommodation in which children can live with their famiies while parenting skills are developed and assessed.

A family placement at our parent & infant unit gives parents the chance to build their parenting skills so as to demonstrate their ability to parent their child. Our starting point is that a child’s best interests are met within the birth family and providing an environment where families can feel safe & supported. This service is delivered in a relaxed and non-institutionalised atmosphere which encourages a style of behaviour that is consistent with everyday family life.

The Bessborough Centre is well respected among the social services, the court services, solicitor’s and guardians near home and further afield.

Our multidisciplinary team can provide any level of support, supervision and monitoring including 24-hour surveillance of a child for high risk cases.

The parent and infant unit is able to offer services to the following groups:

  • Families whose children may be at risk and need independent assessment and supports
  • Families who need residential support in learning & developing parenting skills
  • Young teenage parents
  • A mother and child needing a safe space to “hold” time  up to 4 weeks until appropriate decisions are arrived at.

An Infant Mental Health Focus

The Bessborough Centre is committed to using the most up-to-date evidence-based methods when working with children 0-3 years and their families. We closely collaborate with the Tavistock and Portman Foundation in London and a number of staff are completing their specialist training in infant mental health at the International Training School for Infancy and Early Years (ITSIEY).

A senior member of staff is an Associate Member of the Parent Infant Psychotherapy team at the Anna Freud Centre and has completed specialist ITSIEY training on Parental Mental Health.

Types of Interventions

We don’t believe in a ‘one size fits all’ approach to treatment so we provide a range of treatment types tailored to each client’s needs. Our intervention and assessment team comprises clinical and counselling psychologists, psychotherapists, substance misuse practitioners and parenting specialists. The most common of interventions are:

Parent Training 

We offer parent training both individually and in group. Though parenting programmes are individualised our staff are trained in well established programmes that have a good evidence base for their effectiveness (e.g. Parenting Under Pressure, Positive Parenting). Clear tasks are given to parents to work on in between meetings and this supports their capacity to change. Working in groups with other parents who have experienced similar difficulties can be very supportive and parents can get good ideas from the strategies others are using.

Psychotherapy or counselling

The parent may be seen on their own, for individual psychotherapy and/or with their baby for parent-infant psychotherapy. Appointments are usually offered on a weekly basis, or occasionally less frequently. A range of psychotherapists are available at the Centre.

Group therapy

A variety of approaches to group work are available for all ages. Parents are seen in carefully selected groupings related to their problems or experiences. Appointments are usually offered once a week.

We also offer a parent-infant baby group called Babble Group. This is an unique group which is baby centred and aims to promote parental reflective functioning. Both mums and dads attend with babies up to age approximately 1 year.

An Emotional Regulation group and Mindfulness group also meet.

Couple Therapy

Couples are seen together, where the work focuses on their relationship as a couple. We offer different kinds of couple work, both short and medium term, depending on the needs of each couple.

Addiction Counselling

Clients are seen by our Substance Misuse Practitioner on a weekly basis and links are developed and maintained with specialist addiction agencies. Group meetings of AA take place weekly at the Centre.

Who can refer?

Referrals are accepted nationwide from social workers, child protection teams, Guardian Ad Litem, the Court services or crisis pregnancy services from all over Ireland. Families may refer themselves if they feel they need support during pregnancy or after birth.

The multidisciplinary staff team is led by Calem DeBúrca, Clinical Lead and Head of Unit, who can be contacted at 0214357730

For more information please contact the Dr DeBúrca at:

You can also download our Parent & Baby Unit Booklet PDF