Projekttitel: EVA - The evaluation of two prevention programs in day-care centers

Akronym: EVA 

The evaluation of two prevention programs in day-care centers

As many studies in the fields of empirical infant research, relationship research and psychoanalysis demonstrate, the experience of stable emotional relationships in the first years of one's life is the best precondition for a successful psychical, cognitive and psychosocial development, including the acquisition of language. Numerous prevention programs follow these empirical findings and try to support children already at the kindergarten age; yet such offers do not reach all families, as families with a migration background are, for instance, unaware of such programs. The early prevention of violence, social learning and the support of the social integration of children from these societal groups were therefore the aims of the Frankfurt prevention study, which was conducted by the Sigmund-Freud-Institut in cooperation with the Institut für Analytische Kinder- und Jugendlichenpsychotherapie and the municipal education authority in 14 day-care centers in Frankfurt from 2003 to 2006. The study was based on clinical experiences and new findings in psychoanalytical developmental psychology, early education and brain science according to which the early years of life set the course for future psychical and psychosocial developments. Against this backdrop, the findings of the representative study were of great significance: the aggression and fearfulness of children as well as the hyperactivity of girls showed a statistically significant reduction in comparison to the control group.

Research project for the evaluation of two prevention programs with high risk children in kindergarten (EVA)

Conducted by the Sigmund-Freud-Institut in Frankfurt am Main, the follow-up project to the Frankfurt prevention study (EVA) is now meant to review the differential effects of two established prevention programs – FAUSTLOS (“FISTLESS”) and EARLY STEPS. Both prevention projects run in seven day-care centers selected because of their interest in conducting these projects.

Project aim and research questions

In the follow-up study to the Frankfurt prevention study, we compare the effect of two different, established prevention programs:

Offer 1: EARLY STEPS – a psychoanalytical early prevention program

(cf. inter alia Leuzinger-Bohleber, Staufenberg, Fischmann, 2008)

This prevention program is characterized by its approach as it starts from a detailed understanding of an individual child and its family. Each child is unique, as is each family. Therefore, support is then most helpful when the specific skills and resources of the individual child are taken as the starting point. Hence, child behavior is not seen primarily as "dysfunctional behavior" but rather as the expression of a hidden (unconscious), reasonable, mental event. Thus, the specific and perhaps eye-catching "behavior" of a child needs first to be deciphered and should not be passed over as quickly as possible. The aim of supportive measures is to allow the child to come to more positive experiences of itself and its attachment figures and to develop its talents in an optimal way. This process needs time.

EARLY STEPS consists of different elements:

  • 14-day case supervision of the day-care center team
  • Weekly offer of counseling and training for educators and parents in the day-care center by experienced psychoanalytical child and adolescent psychotherapists
  • In individual cases, the offer of therapy for children and their parents in the facilities
  • FISTLESS violence prevention program at the earliest in the second year of the project
  • If required, individual mentoring of children by student teachers in their transition from kindergarten to primary school.

EARLY STEPS is conducted in close cooperation with the Institut für Analytische Kinder- und Jugendlichenpsychotherapie.

Offer 2: FISTLESS – a violence prevention program

The violence prevention program FAUSTLOS is now a widely used, scientifically well-founded program developed by a research group around Manfred Cierpka in Heidelberg (cf. inter alia Cierpka & Schick, 2006). It consists of the so-called "FAUSTLOS-case", which carries materials that can be used by educators in different "lessons" after they have received training lasting about one year. These lessons are described in detail in an introductory handbook.

The emphasis of the program is on the self-perception and the perception by others of emotions and thoughts in social interaction. With the help of images of different emotional states, the cognition of mimic and corporeal "messages" of other children and oneself is trained. Images portray different conflict situations, which are discussed and re-enacted in role-play.

Scientific aim

Both prevention programs have stood the test of studies. This study is meant to review whether the additional expenses for the prevention offer 1 "EARLY STEPS" is in the short and long-term justified in comparison to prevention offer 2 "FAUSTLOS"; or in other words, what are the advantages and disadvantages of both prevention programs.

Research design/ research methods


Children born between the 1 March 2004 and the 1 February 2006 participate in this study under the condition that their parents have given their consent.

Study design and measuring instruments

We apply the following instruments:

  • Manchester Child Attachment Story Task (MCAST, Green et al., 2000)
  • Hannover-Wechsler intelligence test for the preschool age (HAWIVA –III, Ricken et al., 2007)
  • Caregiver Teacher Report Form (TRF, Achenbach, 2000)
  • perik (Mayr & Ulich, 2007)
  • Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ, Goodman, 1997)
  • Attachment survey about situations of separation (Leuzinger-Bohleber & Höltermann, 2009)
  • Self Reflective Functioning Scale (SRS, Fonagy et al., 1998)

Milestones for the current year

The Project EVA was examined and approved by the ethics committee of the Psychotherapeutenkammer Hessen. The intervention phase started in spring 2009 and will last two years.


First results are expected for autumn 2011. Moreover, in September 2011, a replication of the EVA-study will start.

Scientific coordinator

Prof. Dr. Marianne Leuzinger-Bohleber
Dr. Luise Läzer
Angelika Wolff

Contact address

(8.9.2011, N. Pfenning-Meerkötter)


Prof. Dr. Marianne Leuzinger-Bohleber

Sekretariat: Renate Stebahne
Telefon 069 971204-149
E-Mail m.leuzinger-bohleber