Attachment and Parenting: clinical implications A one-day seminar with Gwen Adshead London, 26 April 2019 (Friday) 10:00am - 4:00pm
The attachment bond is known to have significant influence on child development; specifically, on the origins of self-experience and the relational mind. Secure attachment for a child is known to be influenced by the parental state of mind, and there is now increasing evidence for the transgenerational transmission of attachment. At this intellectually stimulating and practically oriented one-day seminar, relevant for therapists working with children, adults or families, Dr Gwen Adshead explains how the parental state of mind is the key ‘environment’ that influences child development in the first 1000 days. However, there is also evidence (such as the orchid-dandelion hypothesis of child development: Ellis, 2008) that there are ‘environments’ that can damage even the most resilient children. Parental harshness, chronic hostility and a rejecting stance might form part of such hazardous environments; such ‘maladaptive parental behaviour’ is not just associated with high rates of child and adolescent psychopathology; but also, with higher manifestations of conduct and / or oppositional defiant disorders in children. Harsh or abusive parenting may be related to a parent’s own attachment system i.e. how the parent ‘sees’ the child and mentalises their behaviour. There is evidence that insecurity of adult attachment in parents does influence parental behaviour; and may also influence the development of parental mental health problems such as personality dysfunction, substance misuse, depression and the tendency to make dysfunctional relationships with partners. Our challenge in working with such parents and families however, is that parents with insecure attachment systems may be hard to engage; and may feel defensive and reluctant to building a trusting relationship over time with therapists. At this seminar Dr Adshead draws on her extensive clinical experience, recent neurobiological findings and relational thought to help us comprehend: How insecurity of attachment persists across the lifespan into adulthood The evidence of insecurity of attachment in parents and its relevance for offspring attachment The importance of mentalising skill and attachment Attachment insecurity in adults and mental health problems: personality disorders, substance misuse, domestic violence, anxiety How core parenting skills are affected by adult insecurity of attachment The evidence that shows the risk to child development, both in terms of genetic vulnerability and environmental stress factors Clinical interventions for parents with insecure attachment Maintaining the view that therapeutic interventions for parents with attachment problems are both effective and preventive, Dr Adshead explains how therapists can apply these learnings in clinical settings and allow for provision of relational security at multiple levels.
Seminar Schedule 10:00AM: Session 1: Attachment insecurity: from the cradle to adulthood In the first session, we look at how a secure attachment system develops and is maintained over time into adulthood. We look at the evidence that adult attachment can be predicted from childhood attachment; and the evidence for transgenerational attachment. We look at the role of parenting and the requirement to balance appropriate limits and boundaries with maximal affection and attuned nurturing. Parents need to be both empathic and sympathetic towards ongoing vulnerability and dependence: the sort of dependence that, in children, inevitably leads to repeated requests for attention. We consider both direct and indirect impacts on such functions where parental attachment insecurity exists. 11:30AM: Coffee Break 12:00 noon: Session 2: Attachment insecurity and mentalising: Impact on parenting skills and mental health Our discussion in the second session examines how mentalising skills impact parenting outcomes. We look at how insecurity of attachment may relate to adult psychopathology: specifically, the following disorders: personality disorders substance misuse parental somatising disorders parental eating disorders 1:30PM: Lunch Break (a light lunch is provided as part of the seminar) 2:30PM: Session 3: Therapeutic Interventions We look at therapeutic implications of our discussions and consider: Assessment of attachment in adults Psychological therapies that focus on repairing relational skills Interventions that promote parental mentalizing and self-reflective functions Generalized interventions that address metacognitive function 4:00PM: Close About the speaker Dr Gwen Adshead is a Forensic Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist. She trained at St George's Hospital, the Institute of Psychiatry and the Institute of Group Analysis. She is trained as a group therapist and a Mindfulness-based cognitive therapist and has also trained in Mentalisation-based therapy. She worked for nearly twenty years as a Consultant Forensic Psychotherapist at Broadmoor Hospital, running psychotherapeutic groups for offenders and working with staff around relational security and organisational dynamics. She is the co-editor of Clinical topics in Personality Disorder (with Dr Jay Sarkar) which was awarded first prize in the psychiatry Section of the BMA book awards 2013; and she also co-edited Personality Disorder: the Definitive Collection with Dr Caroline Jacob. She is the co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Forensic Psychiatry (2013) and the Oxford Handbook of Medical Psychotherapy (2016). She is also the co-editor of Munchausens’s Syndrome by Proxy: Current issues in Assessment, Treatment and Research. Gwen was visiting professor at Yale School of Psychiatry and Law in 2013; and also honoured with the President’s Medal for services to psychiatry that same year for her work on ethics in psychiatry. She was awarded an honorary doctorate by St George’s hospital in 2015; and was Gresham Professor of Psychiatry 2014-2017. She now works in a medium secure unit in Hampshire in a service for high risk offenders with personality disorder; and in a women’s prison.

Continuing professional development through seminars, workshops and conferences for psychotherapists, counsellors and psychologists.