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1 Tuesday 10 June 2014 12:30pm - 2:00pm AEST
Working with Young Children with Attachment Disorders and Their Families Tuesday 10 June 2014 12:30pm - 2:00pm AEST

2 Before we start… Ensure sound is on and volume turned up on your computer. If you are experiencing problems with sound, dial in using your telephone as per details on your confirmation (enter telephone number and password provided). Dial for technical support (Redback). Specific question/s may be asked throughout the webinar using the chat box - presenters will endeavour to answer them at the end of the webinar.

3 PRESENTERS: Clinical psychologist Private practitioner
Dr Dianne Camilleri Clinical psychologist Private practitioner Professor Louise Newman Infant psychiatrist Monash University Centre for Developmental Psychiatry & Psychology Facilitator: Harry Lovelock, APS

4 Working with Young Children with Attachment Disorders and Their Families
Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

5 Outline of Presentation:
A comment on the title of the presentation Attachment theory – overview and key concepts How does attachment theory help us understand our work with families? Aim of therapeutic work with infants/children with attachment problems Treatment with children experiencing attachment based difficulties Case example Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

6 Introduction to the Title of the Presentation – Differentiating ‘disorder’ from ‘disturbance’
Title implies a more diagnostic category. HOWEVER, intention was to present more diverse attachment difficulties, rather than specific disorders. Formal attachment disorder is represented in diagnostic classification systems (such as DSM-V) as: (1) Reactive Attachment Disorder; (2) Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder. Both disorders are seen as distinct/unique disorders. These disorders are not commonly diagnosed, and are diagnosed more in high risk populations (10-20% of the severely neglected group of children). Zeanah (2010) suggests “… an attachment disorder is warranted when a child who is developmentally capable of forming attachments, does not because of an aberrant caregiving environment” (p. 31). Todays’ presentation will focus on a broad range of attachment difficulties/disturbance, not just attachment disorders. Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

7 Attachment Theory – Definition
Attachment as an evolutionary imperative. It represents: “a child’s biological tie or bond to her primary caregivers, usually her parents. It is a biological system developed through evolution to protect the child, thus ensuring the likelihood she will grow into an adult and reproduce, thereby guaranteeing gene survival.” (Newton, 2008, p. 9). Attachment works on the premise that we are ‘hard wired’ to seek out relationships with others that promote our physical and internal/psychological sense of security. Attachment tells us about the child’s primary relationships and how it influences their development (eg social, emotional, cognitive). Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

8 Attachment Theory – Characteristics
Attachment theory has its origins with John Bowlby. Four key characteristics of attachment: (1) proximity maintenance (wanting to be physically near to the persons we are closest to); (2) safe haven (returning to attachment figure when feeling frightened or sense of threat (perceived or real)); (3) secure base (the attachment figure represents a secure base from which the child can explore their environment and other relationships; (4) separation distress (anxiety when attachment figure is absent). Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

9 Attachment Theory – ‘Monotropic’ view
Bowlby’s concept of ‘monotropic’ attachment (ie preferred atttachment figure (usually the mother) above all others). This view limited? Especially in current social and familial context – eg while mothers are still the primary caregiver for most children, infants/young children can have multiple ‘key’ caregivers (eg both parents being very involved in the care; grandparent providing part-time care while both parents work; childcare environments; etc). Rutter (1995) also questions this monotropic view. Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

10 Attachment Theory – Key Concepts
Attachment behaviour (observable) is activated in response to fear or separation from attachment figure and when infant/child perceives real or imagined threat exhausts their capacity to cope (Taylor, 2012). Attachment continuum – child moves between proximity seeking and exploration. Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

11 Attachment Theory – ‘Styles’ of Attachment
Attachment ‘styles’ – emerged from work of Mary Ainsworth and others following extensive observation and research of separation and reunion behaviours of infants ~1-2 years old. Technique used to identify these styles was called ‘The Strange Situation’ (see attachment that follows for procedures from Prior & Glaser, 2006, p. 100). Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

12 Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

13 Attachment Theory – ‘Styles’ of
Attachment (cont.) Attachment styles identified by Mary Ainsworth: Secure (62-66% of children) Insecure Anxious-avoidant (15-22% of children) Anxious-ambivalent (9-12% of children) Disorganised (category identified by other researchers, 15% of children) – Louise to focus more on this one (See following slide for descriptions of secure, avoidant and ambivalent attachment styles – excerpt from Karen, 1994, p ) Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

14 Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

15 Attachment Theory – Secure Attachment
develops from a relationship with primary caregiver(s) which provides a range of important characteristics/features such as sensitivity and responsiveness, including attunement, availability, understanding, warmth, and consistency (at least most of the time); provides an opportunity for the child to gradually and increasingly explore their world beyond the primary relationship(s) to other relationships and experiences, knowing they can return when needed (during moments of feeling fearful/insecure again). Secure attachment experience is eventually internalised (or taken into their minds as a mental representation), allowing child to draw on this internal sense of felt security without the actual presence of the caregiver. Refer to this as ‘internal working models’. Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

16 From:
Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

17 Attachment Theory – Attachment styles (cont.)
Secure, anxious-avoidant and anxious-ambivalent attachment are all considered ‘organised’ forms of attachment – ie there is consistency in the infant/child’s attachment behaviour under stress. Disorganised attachment, as the name suggests, describes children that lack an organising framework for their attachment experiences and lack a consistent response in their attachment behaviour (eg can exhibit a range of confused responses, include secure, avoidant, ambivalent). Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

18 Attachment Theory – Attachment styles (cont.)
For a brief video clip of a child with ‘secure’ attachment, view: While viewing this clip, refer back to descriptive table for ‘secure’ attachment behaviours in infants. Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

19 Attachment Theory – Stability of Attachment Styles Over Time
Once developed, attachment styles remain relatively stable across time (without changes in caregiving environment that is). The younger the infant, the more malleable the attachment style. Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

20 Attachment Theory – Association Between Parenting Styles and Different Attachment Styles
Parenting styles associated with anxious-avoidant attachment (Newton, 2008): limited care of infant’s needs; frequent rejection of infant’s need for proximity and sensitive care; tendency to encourage greater autonomy than is health or developmentally appropriate for the child. These children often present with a false sense of independence and tend not to seek parents out for comfort or safety. Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

21 Attachment Theory – Association Between Parenting Styles and Different Attachment Styles
Parenting styles associated with anxious-ambivalent attachment (Newton, 2008): inconsistent care; heightened focus and response to fearfulness in infant which exacerbates the infant’s fear; discourages exploration (due to parental anxiety). These children often give mixed messages to the parent – simultaneously hostile and dependent toward parent. They are hypervigilant to possibility of separation from attachment figure, and seek to be proximally close even at times seemingly not necessary (eg clingy behaviour) due to uncertainty about the parents’ ongoing availability. Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

22 Attachment Theory – Limitations of Categories
While categories are important, need to keep in mind that infants/children can exhibit different styles under different circumstances or with different caregiver(s). What is more relevant to attachment ‘style’, is knowing from your assessment (and formulation) how their attachment style manifests, or plays out, in the child’s relationships with others. Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

23 Attachment and Post-Natal Depression in Mothers
Impact of PND on infants’ attachment – depending on level of ‘buffering’ by others (eg partner, extended family, other supports), infant attachment may be quite compromised. Research suggests that while mothers who receive treatment for their PND get better (ie symptoms resolve), any negative impact on the infant’s attachment is not automatically corrected as a result. Mothers often feel tremendous guilt during episodes of PND and later in relation to their lack of emotional availability (or even physical neglect) during their episode of PND. Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

24 Attachment Theory – Whose Attachment?
When we talk about attachment in relation to infants/children, we are referring to the infant’s attachment to their primary caregiver(s), not the other way around! Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

25 How Does Attachment Theory Help Us Understand Our Practice/Treatment
Provides a framework for understanding a child’s relationships with attachment figures, and how these relationships influence other relationships in their lives, and their behaviour, self-concept, etc. Helps us understand the child’s relationship with us as the therapist, and others in their life who aren’t in their immediate caregiving system (eg teachers or peers at school; their dance teacher; meeting new people). However, attachment is only part of an Ax with an infant/child, it’s part of my understanding of a child’s difficulties. Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

26 Assessing Attachment See notes attached.
Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

27 What Are Some Possible ‘Red Flags’ That May Suggest Attachment Based Difficulties?
In infants, some ‘red flags’ may be: persistent settling, sleep or other regulatory problems; persistent crying; gaze avoidance; frequent/persistent irritability; feeding difficulties; tantrums, biting, aggression, etc; bonding difficulties; loss of significant attachment figures; infants with chronic ill-health; history of trauma. Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

28 What Are Some Possible ‘Red Flags’ That May Suggest Attachment Based Difficulties? (cont.)
In pre-school or primary school aged children, some ‘red flags’ may be: separation difficulties; no clear preference for their primary caregivers; relational problems with peers that is unexplained by a pervasive developmental delay or ASD problem; excessive and intense ‘temper tantrums’; regressions in milestones; difficulties in developmentally appropriate exploratory behaviour; excessive shyness, sensitivity and/or fearfulness; loss of significant attachment figures; history of trauma. Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

29 Aims of Therapeutic Work with Children with Attachment Based Difficulties
The aim of therapeutic work with families is to: increase the security of the infant’s/child’s attachment relationships with their primary caregivers, and thereby with others; increase parents’ reflective functioning [see comments to follow, but essentially thinking about thinking/feelings rather than reacting/judging]; alleviate the presenting difficulties that the child is exhibiting that you believe have insecure attachment at their core; helping the parent connect with their child in a more authentic way, without their past history contaminating their relationship with their infant/child, and being able to be more responsive to the child’s needs; helping caregivers and their children create opportunities for repair in their relationship (ie responding/interacting/thinking differently). Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

30 Treatment – Importance of a
Good Formulation Good beginning to treatment is having a good formulation (which follows on from your assessment). See attached notes regarding important aspects of the formulation. Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

31 Treatment – Important Definitions
Some important definitions: Reflective functioning – Slade (2008, p. 214) describes reflective functioning as: “Reflective functioning can be understood narrowly as the capacity to understand one’s own and others’ behaviour in terms of underlying mental states and intentions, and more broadly as a crucial human capacity that is intrinsic to affect regulation and productive social relationships.”. This capacity is narrowed or limited in some parents, and consequently underdeveloped in their children who develop insecure attachments. It is about the capacity to reflect rather than react or judge the child, and to make sense of and be open and curious to internal states and experiences of oneself and one’s child. Eg your child throws your favourite ornament on the floor out of anger and it cracks. Rather than react (punish, express anger toward the child, tell the child their behaviour was bad, etc), you think about what may have lead your child to act this way, why that ornament, what do you think he was trying to achieve, do you think he understood the significance of the ornament, and so on. Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

32 Treatment – Important Definitions (cont.)
Some important definitions (cont.): Ghosts in the nursery: central idea to working with parents. It refers to the negative influences on current relationships (ie with one’s infant/child) from past relationships/history. Fraiberg, Adelson, & Shapiro (1975) state: “In every nursery there are ghosts. They are the visitors from the unremembered past of the parents, the uninvited guests at the christening. Under all favorable circumstances the unfriendly and unbidden spirits are banished from the nursery and return to their subterranean dwelling place. The baby makes his own imperative claim upon parental love and, in strict analogy with the fairy tales, the bonds of love protect the child and his parents against the intruders, the malevolent ghosts.” However, in some circumstances, “… The intruders from the past have taken up residence in the nursery, claiming tradition and rights of ownership. They have been present at the christening for two or more generations. While no one has issued an invitation, the ghosts take up residence and conduct the rehearsal of the family tragedy from a tattered script.” (p. 388). Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

Empathise with how difficult it may be for both parents & infant/child. Encourage/promote consistent, sensitive, responsive, attuned, caregiving and replicate this in the therapeutic relationship. The therapeutic relationship needs to mimic secure attachment characteristics – eg therapist provides consistency (environment and time), reliability, attunement (to both parent(s) and infant/child), reflective capacity, containment by therapist (ie ability of the therapist to tolerate the intolerable feelings/thoughts/etc of the parent(s) and/or child. Explore what is getting in the way of parent providing this (go back to your formulation and observations for this). Help families to create new ways of relating through play, and exploratory discussion in order to increase their capacity to reflect and to offer what their infant/child needs. Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

34 Treatment – Some Guiding Principles
Tools you may use to create reparative conversations with the parent(s) and child: photos (may be recent, may be when child was an infant) or special objects (eg a baby blanket that has special meaning; baby’s first tooth; etc – bring into the room something very real about the family; Attempting to use in vivo moments in the sessions to explore the parent-infant/child relationship (eg the child seeks comfort; there is conflict in the session; the parent doesn’t know how to play with their infant/child; etc). Use of play with infants/children and parent(s) as a way of engagement and therapeutic change. Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

35 Treatment – Some Guiding Principles (cont.)
Some parents have a lot of trouble just ‘being with’ their child or playing with or enjoying their infant/child. This may be due to their anxiety that they have nothing to offer, that they have too many competing demands, that they dislike their child, etc. However, if the relationship between child and parent(s) is to improve, developing a sense of comfort in being in each other’s company (without judgement/criticism, etc) is crucial; the therapist here is a facilitator/bridge between the infant/child and their parent(s). Observations of the parent-child interactions or the play. One approach that uses a reflective stance in parent-infant work can be found in an approach developed by Muir, called ‘Watch, Wait & Wonder’. (See reference). Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

36 Who is Involved in Treatment?
Who is involved in sessions? Parent only – child-focussed (although with infants, almost always see parent-infant together – some exceptions). Parent and infant/child joint sessions. Alternating between parent-child and child-focussed parent sessions. Important that parents are always involved in treatment, especially given attachment disturbance occurs in a relational context (see Slade, 2004 and Hopkins, 1991). Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

37 Parent-Infant/Child Joint Sessions
Treatment – Parent-Infant/Child Joint Sessions What might a parent-infant/child session look like?: Brief ‘catch up’ period at the beginning of session. Keep ‘ear open’ for differences reported (eg “We had a good night last night. He slept through and I felt well rested this morning. This hasn’t happened for months”). Invite parent to play with their infant/child (may need to model this to parent (eg get down on the ground first; say “come and join us down here” [unless infant newborn]). Once play has got going, watch, wait and then may wonder out loud with parent or make observations about play – eg parent and child at dolls house: “I notice there is a lot of fighting in this [play] family”; may ask parent “I wonder what you think is going on in this play at the moment?”. Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

38 Treatment – Parent-Infant/Child Joint Sessions (cont.)
We are assisting parent(s) to develop greater reflective capacity. Eg. child may throw a toy at the parent and, say, parent withdraws from child. Could use this as an entry point for exploration – what is the parents’ experience of this interaction? What does parent think is child’s motive? What do they think this was about for their infant/child (eg defiant? sadistic? lack of self-control? etc). May offer observation: eg “I wonder if you withdraw from Sam when he throws something at you as maybe having something to do with your earlier comments that you believe you are a hopeless parent?”. There may be room to guide/coach the parent to respond differently (eg “What do you think would happen if you took the toy & returned it to Sam and said “I’m not sure what just happened between us?” and ask parent to think about how Sam might respond. Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

39 Treatment – Child-focussed Parent Work
Child-focussed parent work (not the same as individual therapy for the parent): attempting to help parents enhance their reflective functioning capacity; explore parent’s history, their negative feelings toward their child (eg “when I look at him I see is a monster”), or their lack of self-confidence as a parent (eg “I have nothing to offer my child”); help parents to disentangle negative aspects of their own histories from intruding into relationship with their infant/child; psycho-education about infant/child emotional functioning; Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

40 Treatment – Child-focussed Parent Work (cont.)
explore the parents’ projections (eg asking parents to think about where their perceptions, feelings, thoughts, etc, about the child belong); explore their perceptions and interpretations about their infant/child’s behaviour (parents will make their own interpretations about the meaning of their child’s behaviour – eg: “he’s just wilful – he just doesn’t want to go to bed”; “she is manipulative – she will just constantly want my attention”; “she is fiercely independent – she never wants me to comfort her, even when she hurts herself badly”; etc0; Example: 7-year-old boy who has always reminded his mother of her violent ex-husband (boy’s father) – gently helping her to understand that this does not belong to her son and his and her relationship – eg “In what way is Eli different to your ex-husband?” or “How is Eli’s anger different to your ex-husband’s anger”; etc). Could perhaps point out differences you have observed/heard as part of the therapeutic conversations and checking out your observations with the parent (eg “I’ve noticed that when Eli gets angry with you, once he has calmed down he doesn’t ‘hold a grudge’ like you say your ex-husband used to after he was abusive. What do you think?”). Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

41 Treatment – Child-focussed parent work (cont.)
Slade (2008) describes some ways of working with parents to enhance parental reflective functioning: creating a context for meaning making, or a thinking space; we hold the parent in our mind (as the therapist); we hold the infant/child in mind until the parent can hold their infant/child in mind (don’t expect the parents’ capacity to be very high at the beginning of treatment); we model a reflective stance (eg if a parent is overtly verbally attacking us (“You don’t have an f……. clue”), that we don’t respond with reactivity or defensiveness, but instead wonder with the parent about the experience of feeling helpless, or angry, or disappointed by me, or whatever); working at a level the parent can manage (going at the parents’ pace); being flexible in the way you work. Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

42 Case Example – ‘Chloe’ Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)
Chloe – 3.5 years. Referred due to: frequent and intense tantrums (++daily), would become highly distressed, demanding, scream; despite seeking comfort, she was often unable to use comfort offered by parents [characteristic of ambivalent attached children] described as being unhappy, often irritable or overtly angry and upset easily; family (particularly her mother) often gave into Chloe at times because they could not tolerate her distress and to avoid escalation in her behaviour; extreme distress upon separation at childcare, where she had attended one day per week for the previous two years; in the first year, she would cry on and off the entire day; she made no emotional connection with any of the caregivers in the two years she had been attending; their strategy to manage her extreme separation anxiety was to ignore her, as they believed to try to comfort her made it worse. In more recent times, she continued to exhibit separation distress, but would settle within 10 minutes or so; Chloe was reported to be highly anxious even in very familiar social situations [overly-anxious, compromised exploratory behaviour] (such as regular attendance at her sister’s dance group with mother present where she would stay constantly next to her mother throughout; Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

43 Case Example – ‘Chloe’ (cont.)
she had some tactile sensitivities – frequent ‘fighting’ against her parents when they needed to strap her into the car, the pram or bath her or wash/brush her hair; difficulties going to sleep at night without one of her parents laying with her until she fell asleep; [separation distress]; both parents were overwhelmed by Chloe’s challenging behaviour, but particularly Chloe’s mother who was her primary caregiver; Chloe was often angry toward her parents, and they found it difficult to offer her comfort and support because of her mixed messages of wanting them to support her, but being unable to be soothed [ambivalent attachment style] Mrs [X] talked about having moments of complete despair and had thoughts of wanting to harm her daughter; underlying rage toward her; developmental history: unsettled as an infant; mother had expected to be very competent in her parenting given this was her third child, but was intensely disappointed when Chloe experienced sleep, settling and feeding difficulties [‘red flags’ for potential attachment difficulties] Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

44 Case Example – ‘Chloe’ (cont.)
mother would respond to Chloe’s need to be close to her inconsistently – sometimes providing comfort and sensitivity, other times rejecting Chloe and expressing angry feelings toward her; at bedtime, Mr [X] had to support Chloe to get to sleep because Mrs [X] became too frustrated with her [inconsistent parenting style of responding to proximity seeking behaviour in child] History: mother had PND; Chloe conceived during period of significant stress for mother in context of death of her mother during pregnancy (complicated relationship with her); Mrs [X] felt belittled within her family [which had left her sense of self as incompetent and she applied this to her belief about herself as a parent]; extreme feelings of inadequacy as a mother which were compounded by her depression; [++’ghosts in the nursery’] Father had history of significant Hx of depressive and anxiety problems (which would manifest at times with explosive anger outbursts); difficult relationship with his own parents who were supportive but father passive and didn’t manage conflict or emotions well; [ghosts in the nursery] Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

45 Case Example – ‘Chloe’ (cont.)
individual assessment – Chloe found it very difficult to leave her mother in reception; we decided to do a graduated transition to Chloe’s mother waiting just outside the consulting room. Chloe was able to explore the consulting room and toys some of the time; however, when I approached her with a question, invitation to play with something, etc, she withdrew from me and became more inhibited in her play; treatment included alternating sessions between (1) Chloe and her mother, (2) mother alone and (3) mother and father alone; dyad work: Chloe would become angry with the initial ‘catch up’ phase, as she didn’t like to have to ‘share’ her mother with me, so after a few sessions of doing this, we decided to move directly into play when entering the consulting room. Chloe had intense difficulty with the transitions [often emerges with attachment difficulties] in and out of the sessions (not acknowledging me at the start, but not wanting to finish and leave at the end). The dyad sessions offered both Chloe and her mother an opportunity to re-learn how to enjoy each other (something her mother had never really felt with Chloe); Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

46 Case Example – ‘Chloe’ (cont.)
dyad sessions were used to explore relationship, allow opportunities for Chloe to seek closeness to her mother without rejection, thinking about Chloe’s play and interactions with her mother and me; parent therapy: sessions with mother alone were focussed on her feelings of inadequacy, her feelings of intense rage toward Chloe, her relationship with various family members, her history, her complicated relationship with her deceased father; sessions with both parents – focus was on finding alternative ways of seeing Chloe’s behaviour (eg rather than her behaviour as oppositional or unco-operative, seeing it as frightened) and thinking about how they were responding to Chloe during times of distress/anger/challenging behaviour/etc. other aspects to the treatment: managing the transition to kindergarten – gradually reducing maternal support, photos of the teacher (with permission) and the kindergarten environment, visits to the kindergarten, using names of kindergarten teacher & peers prior to starting. [providing support using your formulation of her difficulties to guide her transition to kinder] Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

47 Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)
Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

48 References for Further Exploration!
The following are some references that are not all attachment specific, but provide good guidance for child-focussed parent therapy generally, and share many of the same principles of attachment based thinking: Daniel Hughes uses attachment concepts extensively in his work. In his book ‘Brain-Based Parenting’ (2012), he advocates a model he calls PACE (playfulness, acceptance, curiosity and empathy). He suggests paying attention to these areas applies equally to the parent-child relationship and to the therapist-parent relationship (to promote trust and connection). Slade, A. (2008). Mentalization as a frame for working with parents in child psychotherapy (pp ). In E. Jurist, A. Slade, & S. Bergner (Eds.). Mind to Mind: Infant Research, Neuroscience and Psychoanalysis. NY: Other Press. Rustin, M. (1998). Dialogues with parents. In Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 24(2), Slade, A. (2008). Working with parents in child psychotherapy. Engaging the reflective function. (pp ). In Mentalization: Theoretical Considerations, Research Findings, and Clinical Implications. F. N. Busch (Ed.). NY: The Analytic Press. Hughes, D. (2012). Brain-Based Parenting: The Neuroscience of caregiving for Healthy Attachment. NY: W.W. Norton & Company. [Some helpful ideas regarding managing emotion regulation in the therapy room – pp ] Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

49 References for Further Exploration!
Family therapy approaches to working with attachment based difficulties: ‘Attachment-Focused Family Therapy’ (book) – Daniel A. Hughes (primarily used with families where child is in foster care, multiply placed child, adoption). ‘Rewriting Family Scripts’ (book) – John Byng-Hall. These approaches take a whole family approach to treatment, recognising that unhelpful attachment patterns within a family may be the protagonist for a child’s presenting problems and underlying attachment difficulties. Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

50 References (used throughout presentation)
Berlin, N. (2008). Tripartite therapy with older children: mutuality in the relationship of a parent-child attachment. In Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 34(3), Bleiberg, E. (2002). Attachment, trauma, and self-reflection: Implications for later psychopathology. In J. M. Maldonado-Durán (2002). Infant and Toddler Mental Health: Models of Clinical Intervention with Infants and Their Families, (pp ). Cassidy, J., & Shaver, P.R. (Eds) (2008). Handbook of Attachment. Theory, Research, and Clinical Applications (2nd ed.). NY: The Guilford Press. Fraiberg, P., Adelson, E., & Shapiro, V. (1975). Ghosts in the nursery: A psychoanalytic approach to the problem of impaired infant-mother relationships. In Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 14: Fraiberg, S., Adelson, E., & Shapiro, V. (1975). Ghosts in the nursery: A psychoanalytic approach to the problems of impaired infant-mother relationships. In Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 14(3): George, C., Kaplan, N., & Main, M. (1996). Adult Attachment Interview protocol (3rd ed.). Unpublished manuscript, University of California at Berkeley. Hopkins, J. (1991). Failure of the holding relationship: some effects of physical rejection on the child’s attachment and inner experience. In C. M. Parkes, J. Stevenson-Hinde, & P. Marris (1991). Attachment Across the Life Cycle. London: Routledge, (pp ). Karen, R. (1994). Becoming Attached: First Relationships & How They Shape Our Capacity to Love. NY: Oxford University Press. Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

51 References (used throughout presentation)
(cont.) Lieberman, A. (2002). Treatment of attachment disorders in infant-parent psychotherapy. In J. M. Maldonado-Durán (2002). Infant and Toddler Mental Health: Models of Clinical Intervention with Infants and Their Families, (pp ). Muir, E. (1992). Watching, waiting, and wondering: Applying psychoanalytic principals to mother-infant intervention. In Infant Mental Health Journal, 13(4), Newton, R. (2008). The Attachment Connection: Parenting a Secure & Confident Child Using the Science of Attachment Theory. Oakland, CA; USA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc. Newton, R. (2008). The Attachment Connection: Parenting a Secure & Confident Child Using the Science of Attachment Theory. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc. Prior, V., & Glaser, D. (2006). Understanding Attachment and Attachment Disorders: Theory, Evidence and Practice. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Rutter, M. (1995). Clinical implications of attachment concepts: retrospect and prospect. In Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 36(4): Slade, A. (1999). Representation, symbolization, and affect regulation in the concomitant treatment of a mother and child: Attachment theory and child psychotherapy. In Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 19(5): Slade, A. (2004). The move from categories to process: Attachment phenomena and clinical evaluation. In Infant Mental Health Journal, 25(4): Taylor, C. (2012). Empathic Care for Children with Disorganized Attachments: A Model for Mentalizing, Attachment and Trauma-Informed Care. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Zeanah, C. (2010). Reactive Attachment Disorder: A Review for DSM-V. American Psychiatric Association. Copyright Dr Dianne Camilleri (June 2014)

52 ATTACHMENT THEORY disorganisation and development
Professor Louise Newman AM Centre for Developmental Psychiatry and Psychology Monash University


Neuropsychological processes Affect regulation Representations of self, other Attachment Style Adaptation to Stress Capacity for intimacy and empathy


56 INFANT COMPETENCE Perception of affective signals
Communication of internal states Complex social responses Environmental interaction and processing “A pre-wired knowledge of the world” Stern

Parents with unresolved traumatic attachment issues and histories of maltreatment/neglect Range of issues and conflicts when they attempt to parent – from anxiety to avoidance to repetition Opportunity for the prevention of disturbed parenting and abuse

58 HIGH RISK PARENTING Parenting relationships which impact adversely on child development and particularly on security of attachment Spectrum of parenting behaviors, emotional responses, attitudes and conflicts (conscious and unconscious) which are traumatizing for the child and result in disorganization of attachment and impact on emotional and behavioral regulation Influenced by parental attachment history, reflective capacity and mental state

Patterns of traumatising parenting are often repetitions Maltreatment, abuse and exposure to violence in infancy are risk factors for later abusive behaviour and revictimisation Prevention of child maltreatment involves identification of high-risk parents and early intervention

60 THE LEGACY OF TRAUMA Trauma is reenacted in the relationship with the infant Unresolved parental attachment trauma is reflected in the handling and care of the infant Trauma disrupts emotional interaction and regulation

Human infants have an innate capacity to form attachment relationships Attachment has species-survival value Attachment behaviour is organised as a goal-corrected system Attachment behaviour is present from birth

Secure attachment is based on empathic, responsive and consistent emotional care Security of attachment promotes neurobiological and psychosocial development and resilience Early caretaking experiences and the emotional environment are the foundations of psychological health

63 CRITICAL PERIODS The first two years are critical periods for the development of emotional understanding and attachment relationships Trauma and disruption in this period will have implications for personality development and mental health Attachment disorganisation represents a failure to develop an effective strategy to deal with anxiety about the carer – persistent unresolvable stress; the “paradox of maltreatment”; Impact on models of self and relationships - trust, thinking and reflection, self representation

Intrinsic essential capacity for attachment Internal representations of self, other and relationships Influence of separation, loss and disruption - insecurity, self-concept, repetition of dysfunctional patterns

65 ATTACHMENT BEHAVIOUR (1) Concerns a class of behaviour separate to feeding and sexual behaviour. (2) Concerns relationships, rather than 'drives' or 'energies' (Freudian model). (3) Differs from dependence. (4) Co-exists with exploratory behaviour.

66 TRAUMATISED PARENT Unprocessed traumatic memories
Infant as a projective focus – misinterpretation Infant experienced as anxiety provoking, persecutory, hostile

67 Patterns in high risk families
Distorted representation of the child Parental preoccupation with past trauma Parental anxiety Parental deficit in interpretation of the infant emotional communication Problems in interpersonal functioning\ Limited reflective capacity

Capacity to understand own and child's behaviour in terms of underlying mental states Basis of parents ability to hold the infants affective experience in mind Gives meaning to the child’s affective experience and re-presents it to the child in a regulated fashion

RF is the basis of parental access to their own emotions and memories of their own early attachment experiences Mediates the reworking of parents early relationships in the transition to parenthood and representation of the child Impacts on interactive and parenting behaviours

Crucial in establishment of attachment relationship and emotionally attuned early interaction Gives infant experience of being validated and contained and is the beginning of self development

Mental representation of the self, the other and their relations Formed from generalised representations of events Include feelings, beliefs, expectations, behavioural strategies and rules for directing attention, interpreting information on and organizing memory Models affect future relationships and patterns

72 MULTIPLE MODELS Child may develop two conflicting internal models of an important relationship Traumatic models and experiences may be unconscious but still influence relationships, feelings and interactions

Mothers’ attributions, beliefs and feelings about the infant reflect her own attachment history Secure mother has capacity for sensitive responsiveness and containment Maternal state of mind regarding attachment influences the emotional, non-verbal interaction with the infant

Strange Situation Procedure - secure and insecure patterns Parental responsiveness to infant affect and secure attachment Longitudinal studies of attachment patterns Secure attachment promotes competence - emotional, relationship, narrative, learning.

75 ATTACHMENT PATTERNS Avoidant Secure Ambivalent Disorganised Dismissing
Autonomous Preoccupied Unresolved

Associated with trauma and abuse Lack of effective strategy for dealing with caretaker High levels of stress and related hormones Defensive exclusion of understanding of caretaker Excessive use of dissociation and opioid related states

Poor development of internal state language Poor reflective function Deficits in empathy Contradictory representations of self and other Dysregulation of behaviour, affect and impulses

Dysregulation of HPA axis functioning - stress system Altered cortisol pattern- stress hormone Reduced volume of hippocampus- memory Reduced volume of corpus callosum- information processing Potential effects on mood and impulse control, emotional regulation

79 TYPE 2 TRAUMA - TERR Adaptation - avoidance, repression, dissociation
Repetition – re-enactment, play, identification Anxiety - arousal, aggression, self-harm Self-Concept - depression, guilt, shame

80 CORE DEFICITS Problems with interpersonal relationships
Problems with affect regulation Ongoing vulnerability to stress Self and other representations- negative self-concept, mistrust of others Deficits in reflective function and empathy

Syndrome of neurophysiological and psychosocial dysregulation Symptoms as attempts to reestablish homeostasis Basis in traumatic early attachment experiences and neurodevelopmental effects of trauma

82 FEATURES OF BPD Self-destructive behaviour Relationship disturbances
Dissociation Psychotic-like symptoms Relationship disturbances Affective disturbances Identity disturbances

83 Borderline Personality Disorder - Psychological
Unresolved trauma and loss Poor reflective self function Disturbed self-experience Disorganized attachment Maladaptive defense style

84 PERSONALITY DISORDER Dysregulation of affect and intolerance of anxiety Limited internal state language Contradictory representations of self and other Limited reflective capacity Unintegrated traumatic memories

Limbic irritability Reduced size of hippocampus Reduced left temporal lobe development Reduced left-right integration Reduced volume of corpus callosum Decreased blood flow to cerebellar vermis

Infant Behaviour - dazed behaviour on reunion; freezing; expressions of fear and confusion; strong avoidance followed by strong proximity seeking; attachment behaviours in confused sequence Maternal Behaviour - confusing, frightening/frightened; history of unresolved attachment trauma, loss.

Parents with unresolved traumatic attachment issues and histories of maltreatment/neglect Range of issues and conflicts when they attempt to parent – from anxiety to avoidance to repetition Opportunity for the prevention of disturbed parenting and abuse

88 UNRESOLVED ADULTS features of unresolved trauma impacting on thinking and relational functioning limited RF Impacts capacity to understand and process affect and interactions Associated with limited RF and affect regulation High rates of disorganisation in borderline personality disorder

Secure attachment is based on emotional attunement Attachment relationship regulates emotional states Emotional competence and self-regulation related to quality of early interaction

90 EMOTIONAL REGULATION Mutual attunement and synchronicity
Regulation of overall degree of stimulation and arousal Promotes development of self-regulation Process begins at birth

91 SENSITIVITY The ability to attune to the infant’s signals, interpret them correctly, and satisfy them promptly and appropriately. Depends on learning the meaning of the infant’s signals as they vary over time Different cultures value it differently Differs from spoiling and overprotection in supporting child’s increasing autonomy and ability to communicate

92 SENSITIVITY Intervention studies include focused interventions in the home, and sensitivity training sessions with videotapes They have demonstrated that parental sensitivity can be improved, by assisting them to find alternative explanations for infants’ behaviour and alternative strategies

Attachment disruption and emotional misattunement will affect emerging capacities for interaction and self-regulation Disruptions during critical periods and rapid phases of development are potentially the most damaging Trauma affects brain development

94 Neurophysiological changes
Physiological studies indicate that insecure children demonstrate high levels of stress, from suppressing or otherwise not being able to have their attachment needs met. This may have implications for the development of psychosomatic symptoms and diseases

Intrinsic infant problems - disorders of affective interaction Dysregulated infant - prematurity, substance exposure, maternal stress and trauma in pregnancy, perinatal insult Maternal attachment factors - attribution, expectations, own attachment history

Anxiety about ability to nurture and feed the infant Fear of harming the dependent infant Feelings of aggression and resentment Guilt and depression Problems re-negotiating partner relationship Difficulties in establishing self as mother


Mother feels persecuted by infant and attributes hostile intent Infant becomes identified with traumatic attachment figure/abuser Mother experiencing effects of early trauma Previous infant maltreatment and neglect

99 ATTACHMENT DISORDERS Disorders of non-attachment - emotional withdrawal, indiscriminant sociability Secure Base Distortion - inhibition,self-endangerment, excessive clinging, hypercompliance, role-reversal Disrupted Attachment Disorder - limited comfort from others.

Affection - sharing, warmth; absence or distortion Comfort seeking - failure to seek comfort or seeking from strangers Help Seeking - excessive dependence, premature competence Cooperation - noncompliance or hyper-

Control - punitive/controlling with attachment figure; overcaring Exploration - inhibition; dangerous exploration without secure-base behaviour Separation and Reunion Behaviours

Insecure attachment is not a disorder or a disturbance per se, but a risk factor It appears associated with more behaviour problems Avoidant children have slightly more externalising and internalising problems than secure or resistant children Disorganised children have moderately more externalising problems & dissociative disorders

The relationship between client(mother)and clinician is an attachment relationship therapeutic bond, & the clinician as safe base, is critical to the success of intervention Clinicians' needs to understand the mothers inner working model of attachment

Cognitive behavioral and psychoeducational Attachment based – importance of parental capacity to perceive and sensitively respond to child's emotional needs Without emotional attunement parenting programs may improve management but not the emotional aspects of the parent-child relationship

Early intervention – antenatal, infant and toddler Program incorporating focus on emotional development and child’s needs for attachment Focus on improving maternal emotional availability and reflective capacity Evidence for medium term programs

The therapist functions as a reliable base so that a secure attachment can develop, despite the child’s attachment disorder Through direct interaction and observation of symbolic play, the therapist enables the child to express material regarding his attachment experiences The therapist interprets attachment-related interactions between himself and the child


108 REMINDERS Contact The ATAPS CMHS Clinical Support Service. Phone or A recording of this webinar will be available on the APS ATAPS Clinical Support Service web portal - see Please complete the Exit Survey – your feedback is appreciated! Thank-you for your participation and we hope you enjoyed it.

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