Effectiveness of attachment based STEEP™ intervention in a German high-risk sample

G. J. Suess, U. Bohlen, E. A. Carlson, G. Spangler, M. Frumentia Maier

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16 Scopus citations


STEEPTM was one of the first attachment-based early intervention programs. The program applied findings from the Minnesota Longitudinal Study on Risk and Adaptation to the development of a supportive program for young high-risk mothers and their infants. STEEP’s effectiveness was evaluated first in a randomized controlled study launched in 1987. The study showed effects of the one-year intervention on important individual and parenting variables, but not on quality of mother–infant attachment. In the current German study with young mothers at risk for abuse and neglect, a two-year adaptation of STEEP was evaluated within a quasi-experimental design. STEEP mother–infant pairs (N = 78) were compared with pairs who received standard services of the German Child Welfare System (GCWS, N = 29). Compared with GCWS pairs, significantly more mother–infant pairs in the intervention group showed secure attachment patterns in Ainsworth´s Strange Situation when the infants were 12 months of age. At the end of the intervention (infant age = 24 month), attachment security scores derived from Waters’ Attachment Q-Sort were in the predicted direction and showed a medium effect size, but did not reach criteria of statistical significance. At both time points, the STEEP group showed significantly fewer signs of attachment disorganization than the comparison group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)443-460
Number of pages18
JournalAttachment and Human Development
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Attachment based early intervention
  • STEEP program
  • translational research
  • young high-risk mothers


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