Attachment and characteristics in a psychiatric parent-child ward

(Christina Taferner, Msc, Ann-Christin Jahnke-Majorkovits, PhD, and Prof. Kathrin Sevecke)

Mental disorders in young children differ from those in older children in that they have development-specific symptoms and the importance of interaction with a caregiver. In the pre-school age, the parent-child relationship or the parent-child interaction is of central importance both in terms of the development and maintenance of the child's psychological symptoms as a risk and etiological factor. We focus on the work with the DC:0-5TM: Diagnostic Classification of Mental Health and Developmental Disorders of Infancy and Early Childhood: Zero to Three (DC:0-5TM) in clinical practice and in research, for a specific diagnostic with the most sensitive classification system for the age group from birth to five years.  The Attachment theory provides a useful framework to understand the link between problematic parent-child interaction and psychiatric problems in children. Targeting treatment at attachment and personality traits (child temperament, empathy, and mentalizing skills) can provide one path forward in improving the outcome of our patients in the child-parent ward. In this regard we use information provided by the Adult Attachment Projective Picture System about the attachment based defensive processes of the parents that help to understand complex symptoms and interaction patterns. In addition we focus on methods of recording the child's symptoms (e.g. Child Behavior Checklist, Integrative Child Temperament Inventory) and parental skills (e.g. Parental Reflective Functioning Questionnaire, Parenting Stress Index (PSI/german Version) to investigate the interplay between the various factors.

Co-operation partners

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Marcel Zentner, LFU