Integrating Research and Theory on Early Relationships to Guide Intervention and Prevention

  • Amanda Sheffield MorrisEmail author
  • Amy Treat
  • Jennifer Hays-Grudo
  • Tessa Chesher
  • Amy C. Williamson
  • Julia Mendez


In this chapter we provide an overview of the theoretical perspectives informing research and practice in early relationships, including attachment theory, psychodynamic theory, sociocultural theory, infant mental health, synchrony, the biopsychosocial model, and risk and resilience. This overview is followed by future directions for research and practice in building early relationships. We present an integrated model of infant mental health that incorporates current knowledge about the effects of early experiences on development (e.g., toxic stress, adverse childhood experiences, protective and compensatory experiences, and neurobiological research). We describe challenges and opportunities that may arise when applying infant mental health within other disciplines, such as early childhood education, pediatrics, psychiatry, psychology, and developmental science. We end with an example of an integrated set of interventions developed and implemented at the state and community level, providing practical suggestions for including infant mental health in practice, research, and policy.


Attachment Parenting Early life stress Resilience Intervention and prevention Infant mental health Protective and compensatory experiences 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amanda Sheffield Morris
    • 1
    Email author
  • Amy Treat
    • 1
  • Jennifer Hays-Grudo
    • 2
  • Tessa Chesher
    • 2
  • Amy C. Williamson
    • 3
  • Julia Mendez
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Human Development and Family ScienceOklahoma State UniversityTulsaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesOklahoma State University, Center for Health SciencesTulsaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Human Development and Family ScienceOklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of North Carolina at GreensboroGreensboroUSA

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