Attachment and psychopathology

Conference overview

This three-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 behaviour in terms of strategies for self-protection. The course focuses on development from infancy to adulthood, emphasising the process of adaptation and developmental pathways that carry risk for psychopathology.

The model used is the Dynamic-Maturational Model (DMM) of attachment and adaptation.

The DMM is relevant to individuals who are at risk, have been exposed to danger, display disturbed or maladaptive behaviour, or are diagnosed as having a psychiatric disorder. A particular emphasis is cultural influences on attachment.

The course is structured developmentally and consists of lecture with slides, videotapes and interview transcripts to demonstrate the patterns and principles of development. A set of readings and exercises, tied to each day’s material, are offered. An introduction is given to the DMM assessments of attachment:

  • CARE-Index (infancy from birth to 24 months)
  • Ainsworth Strange Situation (SSP, 11-15 months)
  • Toddler CARE-Index (15-36 months)
  • Preschool Assessment of Attachment (PAA, 2-5 years)
  • School-age Assessment of Attachment (SAA, 6-13 years)
  • Family drawings (4-13 years)
  • Transition to Adulthood Attachment Interview (TAAI, 16-25 years)
  • Adult Attachment Interview (AAI, 25 years and older)
  • Parents’ interview

The Attachment and psychopathology course is a prerequisite to all assessment courses, eg the Adult attachment interview.

With additional readings and written assignments, this course can count towards earning the “DMM-informed Mental Health Practitioner Certificate”. Please contact Dr. Patricia Crittenden ( for  further information.

New skills

  • perceiving discrepant behaviour, seeing commonly overlooked clues to trouble

  • identifying false-positive affect, uncovering hidden problems in their early stages

  • differentiating symptoms and self-protective strategies, specifying how symptoms function

  • functional formulation, moving beyond diagnoses to understanding behaviour

  • treatment planning, choosing treatment strategies to:

  • increase efficiency

  • lower cost

  • reduce risk of iatrogenic harm 

Take-away tools

  • Level of Family Functioning scale
  • Gradient of Intervention scale 

Downloadable materials

  • daily text of slides (with registration only)
  • colour models of strategies
  • numerous published papers

This course is aimed at professionals who work with troubled families or individuals, including psychiatrists, psychologists, lawyers, social workers, teachers and nurses

Topics covered will include*:

Day one - infancy and pre-school

Evolution, danger and brain

Infancy and parental protection

The Ainsworth patterns of attachment

CARE-Index videotapes

Child abuse and neglect

Post-natal depression and psychosis


Day two - pre-school and school years

Disorders versus diseases

Pre-school development and the Dynamic-Maturational Model

The coercive and compulsive self-protection strategies

Cross-generational transformations

Adoption and foster care

ADHD and autism

Reducing coercive behaviour


Day three - adolescence and adulthood

School-age: Peers, obsessive and deceptive strategies

Conduct problems and psychotic intrusions

Treatment: Hidden problems, recommended and risky practices

Family Drawings

The School-age Assessment of Attachment

Adolescence: Integrating sexuality with attachment

Sexual disorders and sexual offending

Eating and personality disorders

Dangerous gaps in services and preventative opportunities

Summary and overview

*Dr Crittenden will aim to cover all topics listed above, but dependent on time and audience requirements, cannot guarantee that all areas will be addressed

Patricia M. Crittenden has many years experience as an academic and practitioner in the fields of child abuse, attachment theory and family therapy. After her training with Mary Ainsworth, she served on the Faculties of Psychology at the Universities of Virginia and Miami. She has held visiting positions at the Universities of Helsinki and Bologna, as well as the Clark Institute of Psychiatry (Canada), San Diego State University (USA) and Edith Cowan University (Australia).

She is well known for having developed the Dynamic-Maturational Model (DMM) of attachment and adaptation and is one of the founders of the International Association for the Study of Attachment (IASA). In 2004, she received a Career Achievement Award from the European Family Therapy Association. In addition, she has published more than 100 scientific papers and several books.

This conference will take place on Friday 14 December - Sunday 16 December 2018 from 9am - 5pm each day - FULLY BOOKED

New dates will be advertised here in due course. Please contact us at to be added to the mailing list for further information.

Tavistock Centre, 120 Belsize Lane, NW3 5BA
14 December 2018 09:00 to 16 December 2018 17:00

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