Enhancing Attachment Organization Among Maltreated Children: Results of a Randomized Clinical Trial

Maltreatment in a child’s early life, such as abuse, neglect, exposure to domestic violence and separation from a caregiver are all factors that increase a child’s risk for developing a disorganized attachment.

Researchers at the University of Delaware and the University of Minnesota studied the effect of Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-up (ABC) on 120 Philadelphia parents identified by child protective services as being at high risk for maltreating their children.

Once assigned to either the ABC Intervention or the control intervention (Developmental Education for Families), the participants completed ten sessions once a week. The sessions were videotaped and most often took place in the parents’ homes, sometimes in shelters.

Each session focused on a specific topic and the “parent trainer” would comment on the parent’s behavior throughout the session to provide positive “in-the-moment” feedback.  One month after the ten sessions, the researchers watched each child/parent interaction via the Strange Situation lab test to assess for a change in the attachment between the parent and child.

Results from the study showed that when compared to children in the control group, children receiving the ABC intervention had lower rates of disorganized attachments and higher rates of secure attachments.

Click here to read the study.

-Blayke Bearman 

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