This unique programme draws on Patricia Crittenden’s Dynamic Maturational Model of attachment and we pride ourselves in taking a systemic, non- blaming culturally aware approach to the contribution attachment studies can make to alleviating human suffering. Our aim is to prepare you to be at the forefront of the next generation of attachment scholars.
You will also learn to conduct a wide range of assessment procedures and achieve clinical or research levels of reliability in analysing the results. Assessment includes physiological measures such as cortisol, EEG and heart rate variability. You will also be able to formulate intervention and treatment plans and select the therapeutic approach which is most likely to help your client.
You will develop sound foundations in attachment theory, current developments in neuro-science, research and practice, and broaden your observation and assessment skills, which are crucial to both research and practice. For example, you will observe and record human attachment in natural settings, where you will need to be aware of your own impact on the subjects you are studying. You will also be trained in the infant CARE-Index, and other procedures for screening for risk in children’s development. While attachment theory is traditionally focused on children, this course incorporates assessments of attachment applicable to older children, adults, families and wider social networks.
There is an integrated focus on practice and research, making this course invaluable for students interested in a research career in the field of attachment studies. Examples of PhD student’s research areas include the physiology of developmental trauma (PTSD) in children, attachment and family systems, the effectiveness of play therapy with traumatised children, the impact of early trauma on parents who abuse or neglect their children, and attachment in chimpanzees that are reared by humans.
Initial modules will give you a historical and contemporary understanding of attachment theory, laying the groundwork for you to be able to critically evaluate the conclusions and therapeutic outcomes. You will also look at one of the most common practical procedures using attachment theory, the infant CARE-Index. This module will give you the knowledge to assesses the relationship between children, aged from 1 day to 15 months, and their carer (usually a parent or legal guardian), through a play-based framework. This procedure provides a screening tool for clinicians working with at risk families and gives a thorough grounding in the development of attachment and exploration.
In the second part of the course you learn to code the Adult Attachment Interview which assesses how adults process information about their childhood and how this impacts on their behaviour in the present. You also have the opportunity on the course to learn to implement and analyse the Strange Situation procedure, Pre-school Assessment of Attachment; Narrative Story Stems using the Child Attachment and Play Assessment and the Meaning of the Child to the Parent (a central part of parenting assessments).
Another key module will introduce you to the importance of naturalistic observation, which is the practice of observing naturally occurring behaviour, as a means of understanding human attachment. This module will focus not only on the traditional mother-child relationship, but encourage you to observe behaviour in older children, adults, family and wider systems including institutions, local and more complex communities. In building your practical observation skills, you will learn about the development of attachment in safe or typical children, and how these skills are used for the purpose of clinical assessment.
Other modules, for example the Clinical Intervention Seminars, are designed to help you understand the application of attachment theory and research in forensic settings, for example, helping you to be able to produce assessment reports, which are increasingly used in courts.