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J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 1995 Feb;36(2):225-48.

Breaking the intergenerational cycle of insecure attachment: a review of the effects of attachment-based interventions on maternal sensitivity and infant security.

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  • 1Center for Child and Family Studies, Leiden, The Netherlands.


In this paper the effectiveness of preventive or therapeutic interventions aiming at enhancing parental sensitivity and children's attachment security is addressed. Sixteen pertinent studies have been reviewed, and 12 studies have been included in a quantitative meta-analysis (N = 869). Results show that interventions are more effective in changing parental insensitivity (d = .58) than in changing children's attachment insecurity (d = .17). Longer, more intensive, and therapeutic interventions appear to be less effective than short-term preventive interventions. Interventions which are effective at the behavioral level may not necessarily lead to changes in insecure mental representations of the parents involved. The implications of changes at the behavioral level (sensitivity; attachment) without accompanying changes at the representational level will be discussed.

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