The efficacy of Toddler-Parent Psychotherapy to increase attachment security in off-spring of depressed mothers

Dante Cicchetti, Sheree L. Toth, Fred A. Rogosch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

184 Scopus citations


The efficacy of toddler-parent psychotherapy (TPP) as a preventive intervention for promoting secure attachment in the offspring of depressed mothers was evaluated, 63 mothers with major depressive disorder being randomly assigned to TPP (n = 27) or to a no treatment group (n = 36) and compared with a control group (n = 45) of women with no current or past mental disorder. At baseline, comparable and higher rates of attachment insecurity were found in the two depressed offspring groups as compared with the non-depressed control group. At the post-treatment follow-up, offspring in the intervention group attained rates of secure attachment that were comparable with those of youngsters in the non-depressed control group. In contrast, the children in the depressed control group continued to demonstrate a greater rate of attachment insecurity than children in the non-depressed control group. The findings support the efficacy of an attachment-theory based model of intervention for fostering developmental competence in the offspring of depressed mothers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-66
Number of pages33
JournalAttachment and Human Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1999
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This investigation was supported through a grant and scientific MERIT award from the Child and Adolescent Prevention Research Branch (MH45027) of the National Institute of Mental Health. We acknowledge the efforts of the research assistants who helped to facilitate this work and of the therapists on this project, including Barbara Fox, Michelle Parker, Kristina Rauscher, Elizabeth Sather and Jodi Steigerwald. We also thank the children and families who participated in this project. We are especially grateful to Alicia Lieberman for helping us to become toddler-parent psychotherapists.

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Attachment
  • Intervention efficacy
  • Maternal depressive disorder
  • Parent psychotherapy
  • Prevention
  • Toddler


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