Psychological harm is serious harm caused by the psychologically abusive behaviour of a parent or other caregiver.

Serious psychological harm can occur where the behaviour of their parent or caregiver damages the confidence and self-esteem of a child or young person, resulting in serious emotional deprivation or trauma.

Serious psychological harm can lead to significant impairment of a child’s or young person’s social, emotional, cognitive, intellectual development and/or disturbance of a child’s or young person’s behaviour.

Although it is possible for ‘one-off ’incidents to cause serious harm, in general it is the frequency, persistence and duration of the parental or carer behaviour that is instrumental in defining the consequences for the child.

Additionally, individual child factors can mediate the impact of psychological harm – such as age, intelligence, resilience and the nature of support the child receives from others.