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WORKING WITH DISORGANISED ATTACHMENT IN ADOLESCENTS & ADULTS - Skills and knowledge for providing therapeutic security to enhance client wellbeing

Event Details
Date: 8 October 2020
Venue: Melbourne, Vic
CPD hrs: 7

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Organiser: The Professional Development People

The concept of attachment difference within Attachment Theory has offered a truly valuable framework to understand many of the serious mental health care risks associated with childhood difficulties. This second 2020 attachment seminar extends this focus to addressing a relatively new set of adult differences identified as ‘attachment disorganisation’, something potentially influenced by ‘early and ongoing’ trauma and associated with adult personality disorders. In addition to clarifying current knowledge of ‘attachment disorganisation’ into adulthood, the seminar will also introduce more integrated approaches to treatment that include attachment and might also provide greater direction to our work. The first half of the seminar will focus on updating current empirical understandings of ‘attachment difference’ and identifying manifestations of ‘disorganised attachment’ in adulthood. The aim is to provide an informative picture of adult disorganization that will enhance initial assessment and evaluation of ongoing clinical progress. Historically, the traditional adult identifications of maladaptive attachment— Unresolved/Disorganized/Cannot Classify Attachment (categories from the ground-breaking Adult Attachment Interview (AAI)) and Fearful-Avoidant Attachment (a continuum quadrant emerging from well validated self-report tools in Social Psychology)—have proven too broad to adequately inform clinical concerns; the two measures have also proven difficult to integrate. However, researchers have begun to identify greater specificity in the more disordered adult ‘disorganised attachment’ through the employment of new and expanded measures. Participants will be introduced to currently proposed specifics for ‘disorganised attachment’ in adulthood, drawing on important updated measures of attachment difference. Groups will consider these perspectives in light of their work with clients who are confronted by longerterm mental health challenges. ‘Disorganised attachment’ will also be considered in light of early and ongoing experiences of trauma and dissociation. The second part of the seminar focuses on clinical skills for addressing ‘disorganised attachment’. Focus on the clinical alliance and ongoing development of attachment will be addressed. Attachment Theory has greatly contributed to therapeutic relationship assist healing. The seminar will also clarify ‘what’ we may treat in therapy: ‘changing attachment’— a lifespan dynamic personality construct—, ‘resolving trauma’—a causal contributor to disorder—, ‘modifying dissociation’—a consequent symptom—and ‘enhancing’ reduced functional capacities typically associated with personality disorders—especially emotion- and self-regulation. Attachment work will be situated within two integrated models of treatment [The Sequential Model of Emotional Processing (Pascual-Leone & Greenberg, 2007) & Character Adaptation Systems Theory (Henrique 2107)], one of which will be engaged in detail. A case study will be explored seeking to practically apply theoretical insights. Finally, attention will also be given to the practical considerations involved in working in a world of limited resources: How can we best respond to the need for longer-term work where clients may lack resources? In summary, the seminar will explore how even disorganised attachments evolve across the lifespan, are not set in stone, and may be expected to demonstrate both continuity as well as change. This may serve as a beacon of hope for clients and therapists alike.

Learning objectives

  • Identify important and emerging dimensions and measures of disorganised attachment and how they differ from more functional attachment styles
  • Including a confirmatory factor, dimensionally coded AAI (Haltigan et al 2014), the Hostile-Helpless States of Mind Coding in the AAI (Lyons-Ruth et al 2005), Goal-Corrected Partnership in Adolescence Coding Scale (Lyons-Ruth et al 2005) [also now validated with young adults], and the recent Adult Disorganized Attachment for Romantic Relationships measure (Paetzold et al 2015)
  • Differentiate the more reliable depictions of disorganised attachment, trauma, dissociation personality disorder from less helpful oversimplifications
  • Understand possible dynamics in disorganised adult romantic relationships, including risk of abuse
  • Clarify clinical responses for working with disorganised adult attachment, especially in context of trauma and personality disorders
  • Assist clients in enhancing their emotion regulatory skills
  • Evaluate options for longer term work that may sit outside 10 session models.

Presenter details

Kevin Keith, PhD is a counsellor, psychotherapist and supervisor. He splits time between private practice and education/academic activities. He is a lecturer in the Jansen Newman Institute (JNI) and Australian College of Applied Psychology (ACAP). In 2017, he completed his PhD at the University of Sydney (History and Philosophy of Science Unit) with primary research interests in Attachment Theory. His thesis—The Goal-Corrected Partnership: A Critical Assessment of the Research Programme—brings focus on attachment development post-infancy. This work rearticulates Attachment Theory in light of advances in the lifespan developmental sciences, especially approaches to biological complexity. Kevin presents regularly on Attachment Theory to a wide range of audiences, including a May 2016 paper at the International Society for Philosophy of Psychiatry in Atlanta GA USA [on attachment within the NIMH Research Domain Criteria, an alternative model to the DSM-5]. He is acclaimed as an engaging and inspiring presenter whose seminars change the way therapists perceive and work with their clients in ways that surprise and delight.

Location and date

Mantra on Russell
222 Russell Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

8 October 2020



Standard fee $298

This event is fully catered and all resources are provided.

Students and new graduates may apply to attend at a discount apply here.


Register online by clicking here

Ph: 1300 887 622 OR Inquire about this as inhouse training, wherever you are - we come to you.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers