NameThrough the Looking Glass
Target AudienceParents
CfC ObjectiveSupporting Families and Parents
OrganisationGowrie SA
Delivery SettingCommunity–based; early childhood setting
DescriptionThrough the Looking Glass (TtLG) is a therapeutic parenting program based on attachment theory principles which aims to strengthen attachment relationships between children aged 0- 5 years and their parents/carers in cases where attachment has been compromised.
Delivered toChildren aged 0-5 years and their parents/carers who have experienced domestic and family violence, abuse or other trauma.
Delivered bySocial worker, psychologist, allied health professional. TtLG can be co-facilitated by early childhood educators.
Program StructureTtLG is delivered in small groups (up to 10 participants) over a period of ten weeks and supplemented by parent/carer-child play sessions. The program uses the concepts within Circle of Security (COS) with the aim of helping parents understand their child’s behaviour and individual needs and communication styles, as well as guiding parents in practice responses to their children. Group sessions also support participants to build trust with each other and create links with community/social services and other families.

Facilitators must undergo a four-day Circle of Security – Parenting (COSP) course and attend an induction course with experienced facilitators. Circle of Security offers COSP each year in selected Australian states and territories:

Gowrie SA provides ongoing mentoring and support and training.

  • The four-day COSP training course is approx. US$1000.
  • Additional fees apply to the services provided by Gowrie SA including induction, travel and ongoing mentoring. Contact Gowrie SA for more information.
  • Facilitators should also take into account the staff and set-up costs associated with delivering the program.
ContactPhone: 1800 129 606 or (08) 8234 5219
Email: [email protected]
Evaluation and effectiveness

An earlier model of the TtLG program was evaluated over three years in 2006-2009 using a mixed method approach and included a control group (Alywad and O’Neill, 2009). Evaluation data was obtained using a methodologically triangulated approach which included a series of pre and post-test measurement tools, surveys, interviews, observations from participants and TtLG staff.

126 mothers completed the five-month program and 118 participants completed survey data. The evaluation showed significantly positive results in several areas:

  • eight out of 10 mothers reported that 80% of the strategies learnt had helped them understand their child’s attachment needs;
  • 91.5% of mothers said the program had helped them feel closer to their child;
  • 80% of mothers said the program helped them feel good about themselves as parents;
  • 76% of mothers said they felt more confident in looking for other services and supports for their families, and;
  • 97.5% of mothers said they had learnt more about parenting and attachment and felt more confident in responding to their child’s needs and felt better able to cope as a parent.
  • Psychological and behavioural improvements were found to be significant in areas such as depression, anxiety, parental stress and child wellbeing. 

Further, 88% of mothers reported improved child behavior and this was sustained at between 8 and 9 months since completing the project.

No formal evaluation of the 10 week program as yet, however the program differs in small ways and key concepts of the original program are intact.

Aylward, P & O’Neill, M. (2009). Through the looking glass: A community partnership in parenting. Invest to grow final evaluation report. Adelaide: University of Adelaide and Gowrie SA. Retrieved from: <>

Aylward, P., Murphy, P., Colmer K. & O'Neil, M. (2010). Findings from an evaluation of an intervention targeting Australian parents of young children with attachment issues: The Through the Looking Glass (TtLG) project. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 35(3), 13-23.