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date: 26 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Attachment is a fundamental developmental domain in infancy and early childhood and no clinical assessment is complete without a comprehensive assessment of the young child’s key attachment relationships. This chapter uses the Circle of Security, a graphic representation of the hundreds of daily dyadic interactions that form the basis of attachment in early childhood, to help frame attachment theory. The importance of recognizing child and parent factors that might lead to disorganization of attachment in infancy and early childhood is emphasized and the history of research on forms of reactive attachment disorder is presented in the context of differential diagnosis. Key principles for attachment assessment are then reviewed and the tools that comprise comprehensive assessment of attachment in early childhood are presented, with an emphasis on tools used for assessment of parent–child interaction and those used to gather data on the parental state of mind regarding attachment. The chapter concludes with a case example that includes a discussion of treatment planning.

Keywords: attachment, attachment theory, clinical assessment, reactive attachment disorder, differential diagnosis

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