Introduction to Understanding and Assessing Attachment in the School Years

5th December 2016


Anna Freud National Centre for Children & Families Map
One day
09:30 - 17:00



Training Fee

Places available

About this course

Course overview

This course is aimed at professionals working with children, in particular children in disadvantaged or troubled circumstances, seeking to make sense of the children’s relationships and difficulties. Attachment theory offers an important developmental framework that is central to our understanding of normative development and adaptation and critical to identifying risk.

A sound grounding in attachment theory and research can help professionals understand children and young peoples’ behaviours better and offer insights into their experiences of difficult and stressful family relationships. This in turn can equip professionals with additional tools in both assessing and working with the families and can inform decision making that has the children’s best interest in mind. The broad aim of the day is to offer professionals a better understanding of attachment theory and to introduce them to a range of developmentally appropriate assessments of attachment for the school years. The course will present theoretical ideas and concepts that are central to understanding development within an attachment framework. This will be followed by an introduction to current approaches to assessing attachment illustrated with video material and narrative transcripts. The day will be brought to a close with a presentation of relevant research findings and a discussion around how this framework might be useful in informing clinical assessment and intervention.  

The course will broadly cover

  • What is the nature and function of attachment from early childhood through to adolescence
  • The importance of the mother-child dyad and the role of caregiving    
  • Important developmental considerations that may shape and impact on attachment relationships    
  • The importance of attachment relationships as a secure base in fostering adaptation and adjustment
  • What are the short term and long term ramifications of insecure attachment relationships
  • How can we best assess attachment in the school years?
  • An introduction to behavioural and representational approaches to assessment  
  • What can such assessments tell us about normal development and how can they help us identify potential risk?
  • Reflections on the use of attachment assessments as part of assessment and formulation    
  • An overview of recent developments and current status of attachment research
  • How can this research inform our work with children, young people and their families?

Who is this course suitable for?

The course is suited to a wide range of mental health professionals, including social workers, researchers, teachers and other allied professionals interested in child development and child mental health and who wish to consolidate their understanding of attachment theory and research. Whilst a basic familiarity with attachment theory and research is an advantage, it is not essential.

Aims of the course?

  • To consolidate an understanding of the principles of attachment theory
  • To learn about different approaches to the assessment of attachment.
  • To help professionals make informed choices about which attachment assessment might be best suited to their specific work and client group.