attachment & Psychopathology

Overview Course: Attachment and Psychopathology

Family Relations Institute

The five figures below provide a model of the increasing array of possible strategies that individuals may use at varied periods of development. (Click each model for a larger version.)
©Patricia Crittenden 2001

infancy attachment

Attachment in infancy

preschool attachment

Attachment in pre-school

school age attachment

Attachment in school-age children

adolescence attachment

Attachment in adolescence

adult attachment

Adult attachment

This 3-day course focuses on the development, prevention, and treatment of psychological disorder. It weaves together theory, human development, assessment, case examples, and treatment applications to reframe maladaptive behavior in terms of strategies for self-protection. The course focuses on development from infancy to adulthood, emphasizing the process of adaptation and developmental pathways that carry risk for psychopathology. The model used, the Dynamic-Maturational Model (DMM) of Attachment and Adaptation. The DMM is an expansion of the Bowlby-Ainsworth model to ages beyond infancy. The DMM is relevant to individuals who are at-risk, have been exposed to danger, display disturbed or maladaptive behavior, or are diagnosed as having a psychiatric disorder.

The DMM describes an array of self-protective attachment strategies that develop from infancy to adulthood (including old age). The course emphasizes the process of adaptation and those developmental pathways that carry risk for psychopathology. At each age, the approaches to prevention and treatment are considered. The DMM differs from the ABC+D (plus "disorganization") model of attachment by (1) focusing on differences within the risk group, (2) highlighting a strengths approach to working with parents and children at risk, and (3) presuming that maturation and development increase individuals' potential for adaptation.

A particular emphasis is cultural influences on attachment and the distribution of individual differences in protective attachment strategies.

Readings from Raising Parents: Attachment, Representation, and Treatment accompany each day's lecture and video. Each participant will receive a copy of Raising Parents.

With additional assignments, the course may be applied to the DMM-informed Mental Health Practitioner Certificate. For further information, contact Dr. Andrea Landini, Director FRI (

The course is appropriate for: psychology, social work, counseling, medical professions (nursing, psychiatry, pediatrics, occupational therapy, etc.), and early education.

The course is structured developmentally and consists of lecture with slides, videotapes, and interview transcripts to demonstrate the patterns and principles of development. With the readings, it offers a sound overview of development and an introduction to diagnostic procedures, family formulation, and treatment principles.

Each day includes:

An introduction is given to the DMM assessments of attachment:

Crittenden, P. M. (2015). Raising parents: Attachment, representation, and treatment, 2nd edition. London: Routledge.

The A & P is part of the DMM-informed Mental Health Practitioner Certificate and prerequisite to all assessment courses, e.g., the Adult Attachment Interview.

Approximate Daily Schedule
Actual times may vary depending upon delegates' input

Day 1

Overview of the principles and clinical applications of the DMM
The transition to Adulthood (best time for prevention)
Dangerous gaps in services & preventive opportunities
Infancy & parental protection
CARE-Index videos
Child abuse and neglect

Day 2

The Ainsworth patterns of attachment
Disorders versus diseases
Mothers' post-natal depression & adult psychoses
Preschool development and the dynamic-maturational model
The coercive and compulsive self-protective strategies
Preschool videos

Day 3

School-age: Peers, obsessive & deceptive strategies
The School-age Assessment of Attachment & discourse analysis
Conduct problems & children's psychotic intrusions
Adolescence: Integrating sexuality with attachment
Sexual disorders and sexual offending
Transition to Adulthood Attachment Interview

Summary & overview
New skills to be learned

Take-away Tools

Downloadable materials on

Language: This course is offered in English with English materials. A corresponding course is available in Italian with Italian materials and in Chinese with Chinese materials. The course is being developed in Spanish. Courses in successive translation necessarily take longer or cover less material.

©2011 - 2020 Dr. Patricia Crittenden - all rights reserved