Dr. Patricia Crittenden

Dr. Patricia McKinsey Crittenden - career achievement

Outstanding Contributions to the Field of Child and Family Development

Dr. Patricia Crittenden

Dr. Patricia M. Crittenden
photo by Raoul Manuel Schnell

Dr. Pat Crittenden accepts award from EFTA president

Dr. Patricia Crittenden accepts award from EFTA president Dr. Arlene Vetere

Dr. Pat Crittenden accepts EFTA award

Berlin, 2004

Laudatio by Dr. Arlene Vetere, incoming EFTA President: First, may I say it is such a pleasure to be able to honour you with an EFTA award. Like all of us here, I have long admired your work.

Patricia M. Crittenden received her Ph.D. as a psychologist under Mary D.S. Ainsworth in the Social Ecology and Development Program at the University of Virginia in 1983. Her thesis was done under John Bowlby's supervision and her family systems research under E. Mavis Hetherington. She has served on several faculties of psychology including the Universities of Virginia, Miami, Helsinki and Bologna and Edith Cowan University (Australia).

Her publications are many and include empirical work, treatment applications and theory in the fields of child abuse and neglect, attachment, family systems, and psychopathology. A particular contribution is her development of attachment theory and assessment procedures. Her most recent comprehensive publication is: Crittenden, P.M. & Claussen, A.H. (Eds.) (2000). The organization of attachment relationships: Maturation, culture, and context. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Speaking personally, Pat, I admire you for many reasons, and not least because you are both a radical and a pioneer, and academically speaking very courageous. The family therapy community owes you a great debt; you have helped to bring forth the systemic nature of attachment theory, thus paving the way for much of our current interest in attachment theory, and in models of theory-practice integration.

Although Bowlby's theory is systemic B exploring how attachment needs are met across the lifespan B much of the research and thinking that flowed from that focused more narrowly on dyadic relationships, and even more specifically on mother-child dyads. However, you kept your focus on helping us understand and elucidate our emotional needs in the context of our many intimate relationships throughout our lifelong development, in changing attachment networks.

You never forgot fathers, siblings and other carers. You reminded attachment researchers of the key role of family interaction patterns in understanding both individual and interpersonal change, and in so doing, you brought family systems thinking to the field of attachment research. You paid attention to cultural nuances in the understanding and expression of attachment behaviour, developing culturally attuned ways of thinking.

You strive to understand suffering. And for us, as systemic practitioners, you never lost sight of the need to put your ideas to good use in practice when working with people in distress. Your passion and commitment has always been clear in your wish to help people overcome adversity and develop resilience, well-being and comfort in relationships.

So, I hope you find a conceptual home amongst us, at this European Family Therapy Association Conference, and I think, even more importantly, that in making you welcome, you find us to be friends that you wish to return to. Thank you, Pat. We appreciate your work!

Arlene Vetere

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