Experts have expressed concerns over infant mental health assessment

Sidney Fellow, Robbie Duschinsky, co-convenes international experts in consensus statement on infant attachment assessment.

Forty world experts on child development and mental health have released a joint statement calling for caution when applying an influential classification for assessing infant mental health and potential cases of abuse.

The consensus statement, published in the journal Attachment & Human Development, highlights the appropriate use and current limitations of a classification known as ‘Disorganised Infant Attachment’, which has been in use for over 30 years. The statement has been led by Professor Pehr Granqvist from Stockholm University and Dr Robbie Duschinsky, a fellow at Sidney Sussex. The statement acknowledges that there has been a growth in recent years of social workers and clinicians using assessment of disorganised attachment to screen for child abuse. However, the consensus statement argues that this is a misapplication. Not all abused children receive a disorganised attachment classification, so some abused infants will be missed if this assessment is relied upon alone; and many non-abused children do receive a disorganised classification, as a variety of alarming caregiver behaviours can predispose conflict behaviours, not just abuse.

Find out more about appropriate interventions for attachment difficulties.

Read the full consensus statement

News item posted Thursday, 19th October 2017