Seminar 8: University of Bristol

22 September 2016 

Theme: Wider applications of attachment theory in contemporary interventions



Talk outline Shannon Hirst

Talk outline Madoka Kumashiro

Talk outline Dean Petters

Talk outline Abi Millings

Talk outline Antonia Bifulco

Keynote speakers:

Professor Antonia Bifulco, Middlesex University

Attachment and child trauma: implications for assessment and treatment of families.

Attachment theory has proved to be a very effective framework in explaining how childhood trauma, interpersonal style, parenting and vulnerability to stress and depression can be related. The implications go across generations, for example to the early life of adults in determining how they make relationships and parent, and through to their children who may be prone to the ill-effects of problems in relationship style. The two different generations implicated create challenges for effective assessment and for choice of treatment.

A programme of research which examined childhood maltreatment, adult attachment style and clinical depression in London community women is described, together with its sequel examining inter-generational transmission to adolescent offspring. Childhood maltreatment was common in both generations and most attachment styles were insecure. Clinical disorder occurred in half of both generations. This was mainly depression and anxiety in the mothers, but also included substance abuse and conduct disorder in the young people.

As yet there has been no formal use of the ASI in a clinical evaluation or other systematic intervention. However, the assessment and the associated findings of the model can be applied within a number of approaches, including CBT, parenting training and family therapy. However use of the ASI assessment in filial/play therapy with children and parents has shown positive results in informing therapy. Some illustrations are provided from families where the child has been referred for help, with a focus on problems in attachment style of parents with consequences for child’s behaviour and distress.

Professor David Shemmings, OBE, University of Kent

Using Attachment Theory in Child Protection Practice 

After a brief introduction, during which I will outline what I've been doing over the past 7 years to 'deepen and strengthen' CP professionals' application of attachment theory, I will draw out four main themes from contemporary attachment research that they are finding useful when working with children and families:

1. The importance of understanding 'mentalising capacity' in parents (especially how we are encouraging professionals to bring the 'Inside, Out')
2. Reinforcing the central importance of relationships, especially Peter Fonagy's notion of Epistemic Trust
3. How and why recent findings on Attachment-based Trauma are leading to some optimistic implications for practitioners
4. The Darker Side ... The Deliberate Manipulation of Attachment Needs by CSE gangs and Terrorist groups ('They must have read Bowlby')

(I will illustrate themes 1 and 2 with some short film clips)