855 Interaction and Attachment between Children and Carers, fordypning


The Government White Paper, Nr. 40 (2001-2002) “Child and Youth Protection” had as its mandate to study “How to develop services and improve foster homes and preventive measures in families, and in the local communities of children and families”.
Various measures in the health and social sector related to parental guidance have since been developed, especially the introduction of various guidance programmes that have been implemented in Norway (mainly with their theoretical roots in the United States). Current programmes internationally include, PMT (Parent Management Training), Webster Stratton, ICDP (International Child Development Program, WHO) and the Marte Meo programme (the Netherlands). The programmes have focused on the behaviour of parents / caregivers. They are linked to authorisation processes and are mostly used as treatment programmes in the special health services. One exception in Norway is the Parental Guidance Programmes aimed at public health nurses in the field which are implemented as measures involving chief county medical officers, county governors and local public health nurses.

A major challenge related to the use of parental guidance programmes is to what extent they are founded on theory and empirical research in the field. Expertise within the field concerning the detection of interaction and attachment disorders is essential, and experience shows that this expertise could be improved in first line services. In foster home care there is a great potential for observation skills and the training of interaction skills. Surveys of former students’ need of further competence after the completion of their education, and experiences of the County Council for Social Affairs, also shows that skills concerning interaction and attachment need to be improved.

The Ministry of Children and Equality proposes special measures aimed at children with substance-abuse parents and / or mentally ill parents, and they continue their focus on family guidance programmes. The Government White Paper Nr. 40 (2001 - 2002) “Child and Youth Protection” emphasises the need of expertise in the areas of physical, mental and sexual abuse of children.
Associate Professor, Kari Killen, NOVA - Norwegian Social Research (NOVA), has shown in a research project that focuses on “attachment” that the concept needs to be clarified and made more accessible for health and social workers. It is both important and necessary to be able to apply this type of knowledge within curative and preventive efforts. This type of knowledge addresses a different level than that of external behaviour, namely the child’s development of self at an inner structural level and how this affects interaction with the caregiver. Children are not only exposed to the behaviour of their caregivers, they themselves influence interaction through their personality development and attachments. Such perspectives are appropriate in terms of planning measures, for example, foster home placement, and collaboration with front line services concerning diagnosis. Further education programmes will further develop participants’ Bachelor level competence within developmental psychology that goes beyond what many of the abovementioned parental guidance programmes emphasise. Their focus is primarily on behaviour and interaction that can be described at an external level. However, there need be no contradiction here, as both perspectives complement each other.
Within developmental psychology the area of attachment has been one of the most vital areas of research for decades. The level of knowledge level was raised considerably after empirical research in the 1970s showed and documented infant skills in a whole new way through the use of video recordings and closer studies of early interaction. This allowed an integration of recent empirical data concerning infants with the original and more theoretical and therapeutic attachment concept, which John Bowlby introduced in the 1950s. Later, researchers such as Ainsworth and Crittenden helped to make research regarding attachment more relevant for the practical field. The infant development theorist, Daniel Stern, has successfully managed to bridge the gap between theory and practice through his research. In Norway it is particularly the Regional Centre for Children and Adolescents Mental Health (R BUP) that has focused on early attachments and intervention. Researchers at NOVA, Karin Killen and Trine Klette, have, in recent years been important contributors. To increase skills in relation to attachment and developmental psychology for those who work with children and young people will help vulnerable children directly through better assessments and more qualified responses.

A couple of specific examples of the benefits of increased knowledge regarding attachment disorders in children:
• To discover and prove a reactive attachment disorder in the case of a 2 year-old child that needs foster home care can be decisive with regard to whether foster parents are aware and prepared for the special and major challenges this will involve in daily care. For example, guidance and possible therapy as a natural part of “measures” to prevent failure of the foster home.
• A second practical case: What are the similarities and differences between ADHD, Asperger’s disorder and reactive attachment disorders?
The practical field will be stimulated in a valuable way, and the study programme will contribute to important and complementary perspectives regarding child development and the professional groups the programme is designed for.

Curriculum and structure

Duration, range and level of the study programme
The specialisation study programme comprises 30 ECTS credits and builds on a Bachelor’s degree primarily in health, social and educational fields.
It is organised into course units / workshop sessions on a part-time basis over a year.
Overview of the study programme:





Course unit 1

Developmental Psychology in a Relational Perspective


Course unit 4.

Practical Training Using Assessment Tools


Course unit 2.

Clinical Assessments of Interaction and Attachment


Course unit 5.

Intervention Aimed at Various Target Groups


Course unit 3.

Assessment Tools


Course unit 6

Final Lecture, Conclusion and Examination


Target group and admission requirements

This advanced study programme is aimed at professionals who wish to acquire greater insight into and knowledge of the interaction and attachment, and who wish to learn about the use of appropriate methods that will strengthen their ability to take action through using various tools. Focus will be given in particular to observing, recognising and understanding various forms of interaction and being able to carry out a qualified assessment regarding the possibility of bringing about changes.

The target audience is primarily professionals with experience in working with children and young people who are at risk of developing interaction and attachment disorders.

Admission requirements are a bachelor’s degree primarily in health, social and educational fields, and a minimum of 2 years documented experience working with children and youth who are at risk of developing interactional and attachment disorders.
Applicants with other qualifications may apply and be assessed individually.


The objective of the study programme is to provide students with theoretical and practical knowledge about how attachments and interaction in close care relationships form and affect the development of children and adolescents with regard to their self-development and modes of interaction. The programme focuses on knowledge and understanding of good development patterns, and development patterns in which children develop destructive interaction patterns with their close caregivers. The programme emphasises the development of ability to take action through the development of different tools.

In particular, the programme emphasises the development of skills in observing, recognising and understanding attachment behaviour, and being able to make qualified assessments of the opportunities for change for children and their close caregivers.

Students will be able to:

. Analyse interaction and place this in the context of the development of attachments

. View interaction and attachment as a phenomenon in relation to the relevant theory and research

. Develop the ability to act with regard to the assessment of services

. Developing knowledge of measures required to improve interaction, and thereby facilitate an effective attachment process

Structure of study programme

The study programme comprises 6 course units, and includes 3-day workshop sessions. Each semester comprises 15 ECTS. Each course unit includes both theory and skills’ training to develop students’ ability to act with regard to bringing about positive changes. Progress in the study programme is related to the structure and organisation of the course units.

Emphasis is given to teaching and learning methods such as: role-playing and video; some of the teaching requires obligatory attendance.

Course unit 1.

Theme:Developmental Psychology in a Relational Perspective

This course unit aims to provide background for understanding interaction and attachment in the context of developmental psychology. Firstly, an introduction to historical and key concepts within developmental psychology will be presented. Secondly, the modern empirical and infant psychology that developed in the 1960s will be examined. Further, the central developmental theorists, Stern and Bowlby, will be discussed. Bowlby is considered the founder of attachment psycholgy.

Comprises 5 ECTS

Content: The main features of attachment theory will be presented, and related to the clinical context in which we work in. The course unit will conclude with the theme “the psychology of pregnancy” with an emphasis on how interaction and attachment may be used as a framework for understanding the psychological process that will later be made between parents and children.
Teaching Methods:
Lectures, group work.
Course unit 2.

Theme: Clinical Disorders in Interaction and Attachment

The objective of this course unit is to provide students with a theoretical introduction to how interaction and attachment disorders affect child development with regard to relational problems, emotional difficulties and behavioural problems. The difference between insecure attachment patterns and clinical attachment disorders with diagnosis categories will be examined.

Comprises 5 ECTS


Clinical attachment disorders

How do they occur? How do different problem areas concerning parents, such as drug addiction, violence, mental illness (for example, heavy depression, bipolar disorders, personality disorders, etc.), or general neglect, affect children’s attachment to parents?
Insecure attachment patterns vs. clinical conditions. The distinction between classification system and diagnoses. Diagnostic categories for attachment disorders. How do attachment disorders differ from ADHD?
Teaching Methods:

Lectures, Groups, video material, methods

Introduction by supervisor

Course unit 3.

Theme: Practical Use of Assessment Tools

Methods for identifying and working with relationships where there exists interaction and attachment disorders.

The aim of this course unit is to provide students with an introduction to various methods that may be useful in efforts aimed at identifying and working with relationships in which there are interaction and attachment disorders, or where there is risk of developing such problems.
Comprises 5 ECTS

Content: A theoretical introduction will be given to methods, which leads up to course unit 4, where students will practice applying some of the methods in practice.

Teaching Methods:

Lectures, group work, video.

Course unit 4.

Theme: Practical Training Using Assessment Tools
The goal of this course unit is to provide students with training in the use of methods to analyse and understand the information various monitoring tools provide.
Comprises 5 ECTS
The application of knowledge from course unit 3 as a basis for an analytical understanding of the material the students have collected.
Teaching Methods:

Group work, video, supervision, lectures

Course unit 5.

Theme: Intervention Aimed at Various Target Groups

The goal of this course unit is to gain knowledge about specific problem areas and approaches related to foster children and older children.
Comprises 5 ECTS
Content: Theory and research on children in foster homes and what we know about attachment injuries, and guidance aimed at foster children who have attachment disorders. We will ask questions related to attachment problems in older children, recognition and potential of change.
Teaching Methods:
Group work, Video, Lectures, Tutorials.
Course unit 6

Theme: Final Lecture, Conclusion and Examination

The aim of this course unit is to integrate knowledge about attachment and interaction
Comprises 5 ECTS
Students will reflect and summarise the study programme’s theoretical and practical uses in working with the attachment behaviours between children and parents. Students will contribute through submission of their own material in an oral presentation.
Teaching methods:
Lectures, group work, and guidance.

Assessment Methods

The study programme includes three assessment assignments.

Course code: 855VUR1 Assessment assignment 1: Attachment theory
Describe the key concepts in attachment theory, and discuss them in relation to the child’s interaction experiences (5 ECTS).
Length: approx. 1500 words + - 10%
Individual response.
Course code: 855VUR2 Assessment assignment 2: Assessment of interaction and attachment between a child and caregivers.
Choose an issue in interaction and attachment. The issue will be explored and discussed on the basis of video footage, description of the case or pure theory.
15 ECTS.
Students may choose to work individually or in groups up to 3 persons. If students choose to work in groups, then the assignment must comprise 6000 words.
Individual response: 5000 words + - 10%.
Group response 6000 words + / - 10%
NB! All private recordings must be accompanied by written informed consent, where it must be described how the video will be used.
Course code: 855VUR3 Assessment assignment 3: Trial Lecture – interation and attachment

Students will hold a trial lecture of roughly 20 minutes which must be related to the content of assessment assignment 2. Topics for the lecture will be related to the attachment and interaction theory. 10 ECTS.
The assignment follows TUC’s assignment writing and guidelines provided in "Worth Knowing":


Assessment overview:

Assessment assignment

Assessment arrangement

Form of assessment


Assessment assignment 1

Individual written response.

Roughly 1500 words

Pass /fail

Between first and second session

Assessment assignment 2

Individual/group response

Roughly: Ca 5000/6000 word

Poss. Submission of video/CD

Graded mark

End of spring semester

Assessment assignment 3

Trial lecture

Roughly 15 minutes

Pass /fail

End of spring semester

The following grade scale will be used:



General, qualitative description of valuation criteria



An excellent performance, clearly outstanding. The candidate demonstrates excellent judgement and a high degree of independent thinking.


Very good

A very good performance. The candidate demonstrates sound judgement and a very good degree of independent thinking.



A good performance in most areas. The candidate demonstrates a reasonable degree of judgement and independent thinking in the most important areas.



A satisfactory performance, but with significant shortcomings. The candidate demonstrates a limited degree of judgement and independent thinking.



A performance that meets the minimum criteria, but no more. The candidate demonstrates a very limited degree of judgement and independent thinking.



A performance that does not meet the minimum academic criteria. The candidate demonstrates an absence of both judgement and independent thinking.

Please refer to the Regulations for Examinations and Admission at Telemark University (15 December 2005):


Attendance requirements:
Parts of the study programme will require 75% attendance. This requirement must be fulfilled in order to be awarded a semester grade. Please refer to the study programme’s course plan for more detailed information.

Minor adjustments may occur during the academic year, subject to the decision of the Dean

Publisert av / forfatter Ian Harkness <Ian.HarknessSPAMFILTER@hit.no>, last modified Ian Hector Harkness - 02/04/2011