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  • Created 06 Mar 2012

Attachment Theory

  1. Pamela Pitlanish

    As an Infant Mental Health Specialist, I’m looking into how I can use the model already in place for the families I work with, extending it out to another participant — my dog. AAT was founded using terminology borrowed from parent-infant work, so it seems natural to develop the practice with this model. My stumbling block is: how to.develop interventions which include a dog, for families of infants & toddlers?

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  2. Nancy Parish-Plass

    I recently reviewed an article that I recommended for publication directly addressing the issue you bring up. The author does Dyadic Therapy, also known at Mother-Child and Father-Child Therapy. She bases her practice on Fonagy's theory concerning mentalization. She also discusses Daniel Stern. The idea is that mentalizing (by both parent and chlild) both the parent's and child's interactions with the animal, and what both the human and animal are thinking and feeling within those interactions, are much less threatening and therefore can be seen and expressed more easily. Then the therapist can work with that and later bring it around to the parent-child dynamics. As soon as it is accepted for publication and put online, I will make sure and post a link to it. 

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  3. Melanie Jones

    I look foward to seeing this publication Nancy!

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  4. Pamela Pitlanish

    That almost sounds like how mirror neurons work between mother & child, in human & non-human species.

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  5. Nancy Parish-Plass

    Probably MORE than sounds like, Pam :-)

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  6. Pamela Pitlanish

    I have a paper that I'd love feedback on. Is this group an appropriate place for that?

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  7. Pamela Pitlanish

    I'm still familiarizing myself with the purpose of the HABRI website as a whole, & am looking around to see whether folks are posting their unpublished materials. Thanks Victor.

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  8. Pamela Pitlanish

    Well, I'll put it here. Nancy can move it elsewhere if this isn't where it should be placed, or can delete it (I think?) if I shouldn't be posting it at all.

    Kind of you, Stacy. :)

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  9. Nancy Parish-Plass

    Pamela - the short version of my answer to your question: Oh my gosh YES!!!!! This is exactly the right place to share our thoughts with others who have the tools to understand what we are trying to do and to help us think through the issues we are trying to work on. We are here to support eachother, through supportive critical discourse and dialogue, on our practice, research and theoretical work in order to advance the level, understanding and recognition of our wonderful field!

    In our first meeting of the editorial board of HABRI Central, when I was appointed to be responsible for the field of AAP, I said that one of my goals would be to form a COMMUNITY of professionals (both practicitioners and academics) who could collaborate, advise eachother, think and mull over issues together, constructively criticize, and participate in an active dialogue concerning all issues pertaining to the field. 

    So, Pamela, we are all waiting to see your paper!!!

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  10. Gail Hamburger Courtnage

    Hi Pamela, I am also currently working in infant/toddler mental health.  I currently work with families in the child protection system and would love to incorporate some AAT into the practice.  My agency is very supportive of this so I am eager to read your paper (Nancy, somehow Wanda is back on board and so eager to incorporate AAT!).  We utilize a great deal of Circle of Security information and run several of the groups as well.  Would love to connect more with you Pamela as our work sounds very similar!

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  11. Pamela Pitlanish

    Ooh Gail...that's wonderful!  COS is terrific material. I play the video they have on their website for my adult clients.  They get an immediate understanding of their attachment issues from that simple video. Have you seen it?

    I posted my paper as an attachment up there in one of my comments. I don't know if there's a better spot. 

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  12. Pamela Pitlanish

    Now that I'm on the desktop, I see that there's an "attachments" section in the right-hand column. That's where my paper is.

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  13. Nancy Parish-Plass

    Hi Pamela -

    I started looking over your paper. What is the purpose of the paper? Is this a research proposal?

    In terms of comments:

    You make some interesting connections and you are going in an interesting direction. I also like your research design.

    On page 5, you ask "is there even a difference between AAP and AAT?"  Take a look at the paper I put in the resources section, "Order out of Chaos." I found you to wander a bit in your use of the terms.

    The researcher (Sigal Zilcha-Mano) in the area of attachment to pets, at home and in the therapy situation, has written a number of articles on the subject. I know her personally and I am very frustrated that she has completed the research in which she found that and animal may serve various functions of an attachment figure in the therapy setting. However, her co-authors have not yet finished looking over the article yet in order to submit it. Take a look in google scholar for all her relevant articles that she has thus far published. There are some places where you refer to her as Silcha-Mano. Also, you have 

    In the section dealing with the areas of focus of the therapy with families and children, you mention in a few places the effect of the animal on the family, the animal's attunement to the families affective state, and the Link between animal abuse and domestic violence. It would be meaningful, I believe, to add a section on the use of the animal(s) in the intake, or as a way to learn more about more about the family dynamics within the therapy sessions through their interactions with the animals.  Also, discussion with the family about the role of any pets they have within the family dynamics also brings much information to light.

    That's it for now. Does anyone else have any reactions to Pamela's paper?

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  14. Pamela Pitlanish

    Has anyone developed or come upon client satisfaction survey questions related to canine-assisted therapy and the attachment perspective? I want to mail out a survey to closed clients in order to obtain their view of AAT. The two I have come up with are not attachment-specific, but I'm stuck on how to write ones that are.

    I wanted to come up with something that was more specific to my clinical questions:

    Whereas animals are noted for alleviating children and adolescents’ reservations regarding attending therapy, could the use of a therapy animal—dog, for instance—also be enticing to a family of infants and toddlers? Can AAP play an important role in family therapy which focuses on attachment relationships? Can a therapy dog assist parents in recognizing and responding to their child’s emotional needs? Might parents model the relationship between therapist and therapy dog for use with their child?  Also, does the practice of tuning-in to a therapy dog’s body language and emotions assist parents in tuning-in to their child?

    (note: I am not conducting formal research, only looking to answer questions for my solo practice and clinical interest).

    I would love comments/adjustments/additions to the following 2 survey questions:

    1) AAT enabled me/us to experience greater results than if a therapy dog was not involved.

    2) Animal Assisted Therapy was a valuable means of resolving my/our problems.

    Thanks for your help.

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