ENHANCING EARLY ATTACHMENTS:
THEORY, RESEARCH, INTERVENTION, AND POLICY
EDITED BY LISA BERLIN, YAIR ZIV, LISA AMAYA-JACKSON, MARK T. GREENBERG
NY: GUILFORD PRESS, 2005
BY ARTHUR BECKER-WEIDMAN, PH.D.
This is a pretty decent text on the subject. There are a couple of chapters that I found most useful. The Chapter by Frank Putnam, “The Developmental Neurobiology of Disrupted Attachment: Lessons from Animal Models and Child Abuse Research,” is a good summary of current research on the linkages between abuse, brain development, and later behavior. Dr. Putnam does a very good job of explaining some quite complex issues here. He states, “In aggregate, research…conclusively demonstrates that early adverse experiences can have lifelong effects on subsequent responses to stressors. Maternal stress is clearly communicated to the infant and can be as detrimental as direct stress.” (p. 93). The next chapter by Alica Liberman and Lisa Amaya-Jackson, “Reciprocal Influences of Attachment and Trauma: Using a Dual Lens in Assessment and Treatment of Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers,” is also an excellent chapter. As you know, the field is increasingly moving toward an integration of trauma research and practice and disorders of attachment theory and research. This chapter is a very nice integration of those two domains. The inclusion of a very detailed case study makes this chapter quite useful.
The last sections of the book describe program and policies. In the chapter by Marinus H. van Ijzendoorn, Marian J. Bakermans-Kraneburg, and Femmie Juffer, “Why Less is More,” they describe the current state of affairs with regard to program research. They find that interventions that focus only on sensitive maternal behavior are most effective in changing insensitive parenting and infant attachment security. They found that sensitivity-focused interventions are more effective than interventions with a broader focus. As might be expected, interventions with involved families and at-risk infants were more effective than interventions with at-risk parents. The book also addresses the ongoing concerns with intrusive methods such as holding therapies, rebirthing, and rebirthing. The chapter by Thomas O’Connor and Wendy Nilson, “Models versus Metaphors in Translating Attachment Theory to the Clinic and Community,” discusses this issue and encouragingly states, “This is changing. For example, a recent issue of Attachment and Human Development…was dedicated to this problem, and several clinicians working with children with attachment disorder have begun to develop alternative intervention models that do not rely on holding (e.g. Hughes, 2003).”
Like too many books in the field, this one focuses primarily on theory, research, and treatment programs for infants and toddlers. It takes some adapting to see how this material can be useful in work with latency and teen age children. None the less, the material is helpful and useful for practitioners.