Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 111–117 | Cite as

A Critical Response to Jean Mercer’s Article: Conventional and Unconventional Perspectives on Attachment and Attachment Problems: Comparisons and Implications. The Institute for Attachment and Child Development Model

  • Forrest Lien
  • Karen JollyEmail author
  • Nichole Noonan


The present article is in response to Mercer’s (Child Adolesc Social Work J., 2017) manuscript Conventional and Unconventional Perspectives on Attachment and Attachment Problems: Comparisons and Implications, 2006–2016. Mercer evaluated the progress, or lack thereof, in therapeutic practices concerning reactive attachment disorder (RAD) in response to the Report of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) Task Force on Attachment Therapy, Reactive Attachment Disorder, and Attachment Problems (Chaffin et al., in Child Maltreatment 11:76–89, 2006). The authors of the present article concur that unconventional approaches to RAD were once practiced in the attachment field and that continued research is important to identify research-supported treatment. Fortunately, however, children with RAD and their families have already benefited from the practical knowledge and research gained with time and the advancements in intervention currently available to treat the effects of early trauma in children. The Institute for Attachment and Child Development inpatient model serves as one such example and will be outlined regarding theory, assessment, treatment and research in this article.


Attachment Trauma Reactive attachment disorder Developmental trauma disorder Children Child development 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they no conflict of interest.

Research Involving Human Participants and/or Animals

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


  1. Achenbach, T. M., & Rescorla, L. A. (2001). Manual for the ASEBA school-age forms & profiles. Burlington: University of Vermont, Research Center for Children, Youth, & Families.Google Scholar
  2. Albrecht, B., Uebel-von Sandersleben, H., Gevensleben, H., & Rothenberger, A. (2015). Pathophysiology of ADHD and associated problems-starting points for NF interventions? Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 9, 359. Scholar
  3. Arns, M., de Ridder, S., Strehl, U., Breteler, M., & Coenen, A. (2009). Efficacy of neurofeedback treatment in ADHD: The effects on inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity: A meta-analysis. Clinical EEG Neuroscience, 40, 180–189. Scholar
  4. Berubé, R., & Achenbach, T. (2010). Bibliography of published studies using the Achenbach System of Empirically Based Assessment. Retrieved from
  5. Bremner, J. D. (2006). Traumatic stress: Effects on the brain. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 8, 445–461.PubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  6. Budzynski, T. H., Budzynski, H. K., Evans, J. R., & Abarbanel, A. (2009). Introduction to quantitative EEG and neurofeedback advanced theory and applications (2nd ed.). Burlington, MA: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  7. Chaffin, M., Hanson, R., Saunders, B. E., Nichols, T., Barnett, D., Zeanah, C., & Miller-Perrin, C. (2006). Report of the APSAC task force on attachment therapy, reactive attachment disorder, and attachment problems. Child Maltreatment, 11, 76–89. Scholar
  8. De Bellis, M. D., & Zisk, A. B. (2014). The biological effects of childhood trauma. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Clinics, 23, 185–222. Scholar
  9. Dumont, R., Willis, J. O., Viezel, K., & Zibulsky, J. (2014). Millon clinical multiaxial inventory-III. In C. R. Reynolds, K. J. Vannest & E. Fletcher-Janzen (Eds.), Encyclopedia of special education. Hoboken, NJ: WileyGoogle Scholar
  10. Fisher, S. F. (2009). Reactive attachment disorder treatment. In T. Budzynski, H. Budzynski, J. R. Evans & A. Abarbanel. (Eds.), Introduction to quantitative EEG and neurofeedback advanced theory and applications (2nd ed., pp. 315–335). Burlington, MA: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  11. Fisher, S. F. (2014). Neurofeedback in the treatment of developmental trauma: Calming the fear-driven brain. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.Google Scholar
  12. Follan, M., & McNamara, M. (2014). A fragile bond: Adoptive parents’ experiences of caring for children with a diagnosis of reactive attachment disorder. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 23, 1076–1085. Scholar
  13. Hammond, D. C. (2005). Neurofeedback treatment of depression and anxiety. Journal of Adult Development, 12, 131–137. Scholar
  14. Hammond, D. C., Bodenhamer-Davis, G., Gluck, G., Stokes, D., Harper, S. H., Trudeau, D., … Kirk, L. (2011). Standards of practice for neurofeedback and neurotherapy: A position paper of the International Society for Neurofeedback & Research. Journal of Neurotherapy, 15, 54–64. Scholar
  15. Hornor, G. (2008). Reactive attachment disorder. Journal of Pediatric Health Care, 22, 234–239. Scholar
  16. Ludy-Dobson, C. R., & Perry, B. D. (2010). The role of healthy relational interactions in buffering the impact of childhood trauma. In E. Gil (Ed.), Working with Children to Heal Interpersonal Trauma: The Power of Play (pp. 26–43). New York: The Guildford Press.Google Scholar
  17. Mercer, J. (2017). Conventional and unconventional perspectives on attachment and attachment problems: Comparisons and implications, 2006–2016. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal. Scholar
  18. Robbins, S. P., Chatterjee, P., & Canda, E. R. (2011). Theories of life span development. In C. Campeanella, D. Musslewhite & A. Dodge (Eds.), Contemporary human behavior theory: A critical perspective for social work (pp. 201–259). Upper Saddle: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  19. Sherlin, L., Arns, M., Lubar, J., & Sokhadze, E. (2010). A position paper on neurofeedback for the treatment of ADHD. Journal of Neurotherapy, 14, 66–78. Scholar
  20. Siegel, D. (2012). The developing mind: How relationships and the brain interact to shape who we are (G. Press. Ed.) (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  21. Timmer, S. G., Ho, L. K., Urquiza, A. J., Zebell, N. M., Fernandez, Y. G. E., & Boys, D. (2011). The effectiveness of parent-child interaction therapy with depressive mothers: The changing relationship as the agent of individual change. Child Psychiatry Human Development, 42, 406–423. Scholar
  22. van Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J., IJzendoorn M. H., & Juffer, F. (2003). Less is more: Meta-analyses of sensitivity and attachment interventions in early childhood. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 195–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. van der Kolk, B. A. (2005). Developmental trauma disorder: Toward a rational diagnosis for children with complex trauma histories. Psychiatric Annals., 35, 401–408. Scholar
  24. van der Kolk, B. A., Hodgdon, H., Gapen, M., Musicaro, R., Suvak, M. K., Hamlin, E., & Spinazzola, J. (2016). A randomized controlled study of neurofeedback for chronic PTSD. PLoS ONE, 11, e0166752. Scholar
  25. Wimmer, J. S., Vonk, M. E., & Reeves, P. M. (2010). Adoptive mothers’ perceptions of reactive attachment disorder therapy and its impact on family functioning. Clinical Social Work Journal, 38, 120–131. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Institute for Attachment and Child Development (IACD)LittletonUSA

Personalised recommendations