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Attach Hum Dev. 1999 Apr;1(1):34-66.

The efficacy of toddler-parent psychotherapy to increase attachment security in offspring of depressed mothers.

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  • 1Mt Hope Family Center, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, USA.


The efficacy of toddler-parent psychotherapy (TPP) as a preventive intervention for promoting secure attachment in the offspring of depressed mothers was evaluated, 63 mothers with major depressive disorder being randomly assigned to TPP (n = 27) or to a no treatment group (n = 36) and compared with a control group (n = 45) of women with no current or past mental disorder. At baseline, comparable and higher rates of attachment insecurity were found in the two depressed offspring groups as compared with the non-depressed control group. At the post-treatment follow-up, offspring in the intervention group attained rates of secure attachment that were comparable with those of youngsters in the non-depressed control group. In contrast, the children in the depressed control group continued to demonstrate a greater rate of attachment insecurity than children in the non-depressed control group. The findings support the efficacy of an attachment-theory based model of intervention for fostering developmental competence in the offspring of depressed mothers.

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