PhD Studentship – Exploring Diversity in Parent-Child Interactions: Developing theory for parent-child interaction therapy

An exciting new opportunity has arisen at the University of Bristol that the HVDL Foundation Trust would like to highlight.

The project:

Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) has a prevalence rate of 7% and is associated with risks to the child’s future well-being, mental health and social integration. Early intervention is vital to minimise this risk and maximise the potential for good outcomes. Most approaches to early intervention for these children focus on the parent or carer’s interactions with the child. The theory behind this is that children with DLD are failing to acquire language in a ‘normal’ environment and therefore families need to do something different in their everyday interactions with their child. However, these interventions contain implicit cultural biases and are based on evidence from clinical interactions between parents and children rather than everyday interactions. There is therefore a need to address the gap in the evidence regarding the everyday interactions and activities of parents with their children in order to develop interactions that are ecologically and culturally valid.

We propose a doctoral study that aims to investigate these interactions in families from a range of social and cultural backgrounds but focusing particularly on communities other than white middle class. The output would include evidence-based recommendations for the theory, content and delivery of these early interventions. As a doctoral study, the candidate will develop research capacity in the advanced theory and analysis of language interactions between parents and children, which will contribute to the future study of developmental language disorder.

The field work for the study would focus on a purposive sample of typically developing children and their parents recruited via local early years settings. The interactions between parents and children in their own homes would be studied using the Language ENvironment Analysis (LENATM) system. In addition to the automated analyses of LENA, times of high and low interaction will be analysed using discourse analysis. Data from parent activity diaries and interviews will be integrated with the interaction analyses using a meta-ethnographic method: ‘Lines-of-Argument’ to build a rich description of communication environments that relates language patterns to social events and provides an understanding of the parental beliefs that underpin them.

How to apply:

Please make an online application for this project at Please select > on the Programme Choice page. You will be prompted to enter details of the studentship in the Funding and Research Details sections of the form, i.e. Exploring diversity in parent -child interactions’.

Candidate requirements: 

An upper second-class honours degree (or international equivalent) or a master’s degree with a lower second-class honours degree (or international equivalent) in a relevant subject.

The successful candidate will have a background in one of the following: speech and language therapy, linguistics, psychology.

Funding: Funded studentship from the Heather van der Lely Foundation

Contacts: Dr Yvonne Wren, Director, Bristol Speech and Language Therapy Research Unit and Senior Research Fellow, Bristol Dental School  –; tel: 0117 4143951

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Bristol
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £90,000
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 17th December 2019
Closes: 5th January 2020

A direct link to the listing for this position can be found here.