The importance of parenting in the development of disorganized attachment: evidence from a preventive intervention study in adoptive families

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BackgroundAs infant disorganized attachment is a serious risk factor for later child psychopathology, it is important to examine whether attachment disorganization can be prevented or reduced.MethodIn a randomized intervention study involving 130 families with 6-month-old adopted infants, two attachment-based intervention programs were tested. In the first program, mothers were provided a personal book, and in the second program mothers received the same personal book and three home-based sessions of video feedback. The third group did not receive intervention (control group).ResultsThe intervention with video feedback and the personal book resulted in enhanced maternal sensitive responsiveness (d = .65). Children of mothers who received this intervention were less likely to be classified as disorganized attached at the age of 12 months (d = .46), and received lower scores on the rating scale for disorganization than children in the control group (d = .62). In the book-only intervention group children showed lower disorganization ratings compared to the control group, but no effect on the number of infants with disorganized attachment classifications was found.ConclusionOur short-term preventive intervention program with video feedback and a book lowered the rate of disorganized attachment. The effectiveness of our intervention documents the importance of parenting in the development of infant attachment disorganization.

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