Coaching Parents of Vulnerable Infants

The Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-Up Approach

Mary Dozier and Kristin Bernard

Hardcovere-bookprint + e-book
April 4, 2019
ISBN 9781462539499
Price: $35.00
266 Pages
Size: 6" x 9"
February 19, 2019
ePub and PDF ?
Price: $35.00
266 Pages
print + e-book
Hardcover + e-Book (ePub and PDF) ?
Price: $70.00 $38.50
266 Pages

This is the authoritative presentation of Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-Up (ABC), the widely disseminated, evidence-based home-visiting intervention for parents of infants who have experienced adversity, such as homelessness, neglect, or institutional care. Vivid case examples—including one that runs throughout the book—illustrate the importance of responsive parenting for helping children develop secure attachments and key regulatory capacities. Over the course of 10 coaching sessions incorporating extensive in-the-moment comments and video feedback, ABC enhances parents' ability to follow their children’s lead, nurture when children are distressed, and avoid frightening behaviors. In a readable, accessible style, chapters describe adaptations for different populations (high-risk birth parents, foster parents, parents who have adopted internationally, and parents of toddlers) and provide guidelines for training and implementation.

“This wonderful book is a true gift to the fields of child mental health and early intervention. The ABC program for supporting struggling parents is theoretically rooted and evidence based. It is a model of how to move from research to application. With excellent writing and numerous rich case examples, the book gives the reader an understanding of how the intervention works, its rationale, and the ample evidence supporting its effectiveness. It is remarkable to find a body of work that is of such great significance both practically and theoretically.”

—L. Alan Sroufe, PhD, William Harris Professor of Child Development, University of Minnesota

“Dozier and Bernard have devised a wonderful, completely original technique for interventions in parenting. Their ABC intervention allows the clinician to be present in the home, to capture relationship difficulties and problematic parenting behaviors at the very moment they occur, and to be fully supportive. Parents respond to this intervention within weeks. The book presents both empirical findings and case studies that show that ABC works. I was a foster care worker before becoming a developmental psychologist—I only wish this book had been available then!”

—Mary Main, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley

“Case studies of parents and infants draw the reader in to understanding the development of ABC and how it has been carefully evaluated over several decades. This highly readable book is essential for clinicians working with families of young children, researchers working with foster care or adoptive families, and students of attachment and human development. In my view, the ABC program sets the gold standard for conceptualization, development, and implementation of an important program that works. Dozier and Bernard's book pulls everything together into one place; this will be a valuable resource for clinicians, faculty, and students for years to come. It contributes strongly to university-level coursework in psychology, social work, psychiatry, and family therapy.”

—Harold D. Grotevant, PhD, Rudd Family Foundation Chair in Psychology, University of Massachusetts Amherst

“In this masterful volume, the authors provide a clear, compelling description of ABC, a well-studied and important intervention for infants, toddlers, and their parents. Numerous clinical vignettes vividly illustrate the techniques and their applications. A translational tour de force, this book is a gem for practitioners, investigators, and policymakers.”

—Charles H. Zeanah, Jr., MD, Mary Peters Sellars-Polchow Chair in Psychiatry and Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, Tulane University School of Medicine

“This is a fabulous book—instructive, insightful, and inspiring. It makes complex ideas related to attachment and behavior regulation understandable, and engages readers with concrete examples of coaches working with families. The book shows how a strong system of supports assures that ABC coaches have the ‘can do’ and the ‘will do’ to deliver the intervention faithfully. I’m eager to use this book with my graduate students in the classroom, in seminars, and in special studies to teach the principles of theory-based intervention development, implementation, adaptation, and scale-up.”

—Anne K. Duggan, ScD, The Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

“As a leader of a national advocacy group, I am always looking for ways to educate our staff and the systems we work with about meeting the special needs of infants and young children who have experienced trauma. Not only does this book describe a highly effective program, but it also provides background on early childhood development and the impact of adverse experiences, and honestly discusses challenges in implementation. ABC provides a model for those of us attempting innovative systems change.”

—Carole Shauffer, MEd, JD, Senior Director, Youth Law Center, San Francisco

Table of Contents

1. Introduction to Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-Up sample

2. Attachment

3. Development of the ABC Intervention

4. ABC for High-Risk Birth Parents

5. ABC for Foster Parents

6. ABC for Parents Adopting Internationally

7. ABC for Parents of Toddlers

8. The Evidence Base for ABC

9. Intervention Fidelity

10. Disseminating ABC

11. Other Interventions Targeting Sensitive Parenting

12. Power of Two

13. Fostering Relationships, with Caroline K. P. Roben

14. Future Directions

About the Authors

Mary Dozier, PhD, is Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences and Amy E. DuPont Chair in Child Development at the University of Delaware. Since the 1990s, she has studied the development of young children in foster care and those living with neglectful birth parents. Dr. Dozier developed the Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-Up (ABC) intervention and is currently conducting randomized clinical trials examining ABC's effectiveness with high-risk birth children, foster children, and internationally adopted children. She served on the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect, was an associate editor of Child Development, and serves on a number of advisory and editorial boards. Dr. Dozier is a recipient of the Translational Research Award from the International Congress on Infant Studies, the Urie Bronfenbrenner Award for Lifetime Contribution in Developmental Psychology in the Service of Science and Society from the American Psychological Association, and the Francis Alison Faculty Award from the University of Delaware, the University's highest faculty honor.

Kristin Bernard, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Stony Brook University. As Director of the Developmental Stress and Prevention Lab, she is interested in how early-life stress influences children’s neurobiological and behavioral development and how optimal caregiving and preventative interventions may buffer at-risk children from problematic outcomes. As a graduate student, Dr. Bernard worked with Mary Dozier on the development and evaluation of Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-Up (ABC), and delivered the intervention as a parent coach. She continues to collaborate with Dr. Dozier and her team on evaluations of ABC's efficacy and is leading dissemination efforts in New York City in collaboration with Power of Two and the Administration for Children’s Services. Dr. Bernard is a recipient of the Excellence in Attachment Research Dissertation Award from the Society for Emotion and Attachment Studies and was named a Rising Star by the Association for Psychological Science.


Clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, counselors, and child welfare professionals who work with infants and toddlers and their caregivers; developmental psychology researchers.

Course Use

May serve as a supplemental text in graduate-level courses.