Attachment, Neurodevelopment and Psychopathology

Conference overview

This course focuses on the development, prevention and treatment of psychological disorder from infancy to adolescence and through to adulthood. 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 emphasizes the process of adaptation and developmental pathways that carry risk for psychopathology.

The aspects of adult development that will be covered will look be looked at to enhance treatment of psychological maladaptation of adults and their families (including child protection, psychiatric disorder, and criminality). It builds on Attachment, Neurodevelopment, & Psychopathology in childhood, weaving together theory, human development, assessment, case examples, and treatment applications to reframe maladaptive behaviour in terms of strategies for self-protection. It emphasizes the process of adaptation and ways to moderate developmental pathways that carry risk for psychopathology. Reorganisation and building resilience will be discussed as central to successful intervention. General and Family Functional Formulations will be introduced with examples used to highlight DMM Integrative Treatment.

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. Emphasis is given to how attachment explains maladaptive behaviour and how that is tied to culture and dangerous conditions.

The course is structured developmentally and consists of lecture with slides, video, and interview transcripts to demonstrate the patterns and principles of development. A set of readings and exercises, tied to each day’s material, is offered.

An introduction is given to the DMM suite of assessments of attachment and adaptation:

• CARE-Index (ICI, infancy from birth to 15 months)

• Ainsworth Strange Situation (SSP, 11-15 months)

• Toddler CARE-Index (TCI, 16-36 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)

NOTE: The ANP course is a prerequisite to all assessment courses, e.g. the Adult Attachment Interview.

Course text:

Crittenden, P. M. (2016). Raising Parents: Attachment, Representation, and Treatment. London: Routledge.

With additional readings and written assignments, this course can count toward earning the "DMM-informed Mental Health Practitioner Certificate".

NOTE: Contact Dr. Patricia Crittenden ( for further information.

The programme covers the following topics:

  • Course overview and central ideas
  • Infant development: the need for parental protection and comfort
  • The Ainsworth ABC patterns of attachment
  • CARE-Index (ICI) Assessment with video
  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Post-natal depression and psychosis

  • Preschool development: the need for parent-child protective hierarchy
  • The coercive and compulsive self-protection strategies
  • Cross-generational parent-to-child strategies
  • The Toddler CARE-Index (TCI)
  • Several of the following: Adoption, foster care, ADHD, autism, child sexual abuse
  • Reducing coercive behaviour
  • School-age development: Gaining independence, new attachment figures
  • Obsessive and deceptive strategies
  • Somatization
  • The School-age Assessment of Attachment (SAA)
  • Treatment: Hidden problems, recommended and risky practices
  • Adolescence: Integrating sexuality with attachment
  • Sexual disorders and sexual offending
  • Dangerous gaps in services and preventative opportunities

  • Overview and central ideas of treatment in adulthood
  • Adult psychological development
  • Protective strategies associated with severe psychopathology
  • Adult Attachment Interview (AAI)
  • Parent Interview
  • General & Family Functional Formulation
  • IASA Family Attachment Court Protocol
  • DMM Integrative Treatment

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

Each session includes:

  • A developmental overview
  • Information processing as it affects self- and child-protective behaviour
  • Description of new self-protective strategies that develop at the age level
  • An application of DMM ideas to generate a novel approach to maladaptation
  • Treatment strategies drawn from all the major theories of treatment and selected on the basis of information processing and strategy

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 
  • Understanding how exposure to danger stunts adults’ development
  • Matching treatment to adults’ competencies
  • Using knowledge of adults’ strategic functioning to identify strengths
  • Using strengths as the basic for a successful treatment plan that: Increases efficiency, Lowers cost, Reduces risk of iatrogenic harm

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
  • Level of Parental Reasoning Scale

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

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.

Andrea Landini M.D. is a child and adolescent psychiatrist. He received his medical training at the University of Modena and trained as both a cognitive-constructivist psychotherapist and a family therapist. His clinical practice includes psychotherapy with adults and adolescents, work with parents and supervision of residential staff. He is implimenting the IASA Family Attachment Court Protocol in the Milan courts. For two decades, he collaborated with Crittenden in the development of the Dynamic-Maturational Model, translating four books, co-authoring many research articles, and publishing numerous chapters on using the DMM to guide treatment. He has participated in numerous research projects and is an author on publications resulting from them. He is on the visiting faculties of several Italian schools of cognitive and family systems psychotherapy.

This course will be delivered remotely using Zoom. This is very easy and safe to use regardless of your level of IT skill.
You will need a device with a microphone and camera together with a suitably fast internet connection. Although mobile devices and tablets can be used, we recommend the use of laptop or desktop PC for the best experience. Some devices provided by employers may have restrictions in place. Please use this test link ( to check your set up before booking.
Additional resources for this course will be provided using Moodle, our virtual learning environment.
You will be sent joining instructions including all the necessary login links, passwords and guidance on how to use the relevant functionality about a week before the course start date.

Should you have any concerns about the accessibility of remote delivery please contact us at to discuss how we can best help you.

This course will take place over 10 2.5hour sessions on the following dates:

6 December 2021

10 December 2021

13 December 2021

17 December 2021

10 January 2022

14 January 2022

17 January 2022

21 January 2022

24 January 2022

28 January 2022

Each session will take place from 2.30pm - 5pm UK time.


December 2021 to January 2022

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