Sept. 21 from 1-2 p.m. CT

  • Free for Alliance members and nonmembers
Register Online


There can be a tendency in working with children and adolescents to begin to overidentify with them while becoming frustrated with their parents. We often ask ourselves or our treatment team:

  • “Why can’t the parent follow our suggestions?”
  • “Why would they say such a thing to their child?”
  • “Why do they not have more understanding for their child?”

Taking this stance toward parents can put the clinician or the entire treatment team into a negative cycle in their thinking about the parents, rather than fostering compassion and understanding for the fact that most parents are doing the best they can.

Within a specialized residential program at Chaddock, a new interview tool—the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI)—was used with the parents of adopted children. It unearthed information about the parents that had never come up in usual history-taking and mental health assessment approaches. Clinicians started to clearly see that some of the most entrenched, albeit ineffective, behaviors that were causing the most frustration with particular parents were deeply rooted in strategies of coping that they had developed in early childhood in response to the care they received from their parents.

This webinar will offer a new way to look at resistance to change in parents by using the AAI to explore their own history of being parented. The AAI, with its quality of “surprising the unconscious,” allows the clinician to become aware of important unstated aspects of the parent’s history. This understanding allows the clinician to tailor treatment to the attachment state of mind of the parent and increase empathy for parents’ difficulties in following through with treatment recommendations.

This presentation offers a deep dive into the research and practice recommendations found in the article, “Ghosts in the Adoption: Uncovering Parent’s Attachment and Coping History,” published by the Alliance in its social work journal, Families in Society, for the special issue Adoption Competency and Trauma-Informed Practices With Adoptive Families.

Who Should Attend

  • Providers of family therapy, adoption, residential, behavioral health, and community-based services:
    • Clinical social workers
    • Case managers
    • Family counselors
    • Supervisors

Learning Objectives

  • The relationship between the Adult Attachment Interview and the Strange Situation Protocol
  • Three organized patterns of attachment identified in the Adult Attachment Interview and corresponding Strange Situation patterns
  • Ways each pattern may impact the parent-child relationship


Karen Doyle Buckwalter
Director of Program Strategy

Karen Doyle Buckwalter has more than 25 years of experience working with children, adolescents, and families. Currently, she is director of program strategy at Chaddock, a multiservice organization providing a range of residential, educational, and community-based services for youth, birth to age 21, and their families.

While at Chaddock, she has been instrumental in the development of an innovative residential program for adolescents, ages 8-16 with Reactive Attachment Disorder and complex trauma. One of the only programs of its kind serving older adolescents, Chaddock’s Developmental Trauma and Attachment Program (DTAP) has served youth from 27 different states in the U.S. who originate from 11 different countries.

Doyle is a certified Theraplay® therapist, trainer, and supervisor. Her energetic and interactive style makes her a sought-after speaker and trainer, and she has presented at numerous national and international conferences including the International Theraplay Conference, the National ATTACh Conference, and the Annual APT International Conference. She has taught courses on trauma and attachment issues in England, Wales, Norway, Denmark, Australia and Africa.

Doyle has authored numerous articles in scholarly journals and magazines and is currently involved in a research project examining the intergenerational transmission of attachment in adoption with the Center for Attachment Research at the New School University in New York City.

Direct questions to Trudy Gregory, editorial assistant at the Alliance.