Published on March 29, 2011

Child Mental Health Experts Say Healthy Attachment is Critical to Social and Emotional Development in Children in At-risk Families

Rockville, MD – In a recent article published in the Zero to Three journal, child mental health experts at the Reginald S. Lourie Center for Infants and Young Children (Lourie Center) show that early intervention through the Lourie Center’s Parent-Child Psychotherapy Program (PPP) can help reduce poor social and emotional development outcomes for young children whose parents have multiple risk factors for abuse, neglect and unhealthy attachment.

The PPP is an experiential and developmental group therapy program that incorporates the principles of attachment theory, which is based on the premise that parents who are emotionally available and responsive to their infant’s needs help establish a critical sense of safety and security for their child.

The Lourie Center believes that early therapeutic intervention between children and parents with unhealthy attachment behaviors is key to preventing patterns of abuse and neglect and to reducing the probably of long-term social and emotional disabilities in at-risk children.

“Parents who have not experienced a caring and nurturing relationship in their own lives will often have difficulty establishing the healthy attachment their child needs to develop socially and emotionally,” said
Jimmy Venza, Ph.D, co-author of Zero to Three article “Changing What You Know and Do” and associate executive director of the Lourie Center. “We help parents feel nurtured, understood, and supported so they can reciprocate this behavior with their child.”

“Our Parent-Child Psychotherapy Program uses a series of activities, including meal sharing, unstructured playtime, group therapy, and separation and reunification exercises, to help children and their parents begin establishing a safe, positive, and predictable pattern of behavior,” said Betty Ann Kaplan, Ph.D, co-author of “Changing What You Know and Do” and director of Parent-Child Clinical Services at the Lourie Center.

The PPP is part of the Lourie Center’s Parent-Child Clinical Services Program, which is a licensed outpatient mental health clinic that offers a comprehensive approach to the early identification, treatment and prevention of emotional, behavioral and developmental problems in infants, young children and their families. The PPP helps families with young children up to four years of age break the cycle of destructive behaviors and build healthier parent-child relationships.

Note to Editors: Copy of the Zero to Three journal article is available upon request

About the Reginald S. Lourie Center for Infants and Young Children

The Reginald S. Lourie Center for Infants and Young Children was founded in 1983 by the late Dr. Reginald S. Lourie and his colleagues. The organization evolved from a six-year clinical research project funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. This project demonstrated the value of early identification and intervention to enable children to reach their full potential, developmentally and emotionally. In 2006, the Lourie Center affiliated with Adventist HealthCare. Based in Rockville, Maryland, the Reginald S. Lourie Center specializes in the assessment, treatment and prevention of emotional, behavioral and developmental problems in infants and young children.