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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 59 (2017) 9, 546 - 553

Essay

Diagnostics of attachment in child and adolescent psychiatry

M.J. van Hoof

background Growing concern about how the neglect and abuse of children can be tackled and prevented has led to increased interest in the parent-child relationship and the concept of attachment. It is vitally important that the diagnostics relating to attachment are accurate. One of the main problems is that up till now the parent-child relationship has not been assessed and analysed in accordance with reliable, unambiguous standards.
aim To search the literature in order to identify the prerequisites for reliable diagnostics of attachment.
method PubMed articles concerning instruments for measuring attachment were reviewed. The found articles were based on more extensive search strategies used in English-language meta-analysis, and included reflections on possible implications of mental health care.
results Accurate detailed analysis of attachment is particularly important in cases that involve cumulative risk factors. The task must be performed by trained professionals who used thoroughly tested, reliable measuring instruments.
conclusion The application of the concept of attachment in child and adolescent psychiatry is in its infancy. Those applying the concept need to have breadth of vision and evidence-based skills in applying relevant diagnostics.

keywords attachment, attachment representation, child and adolescent psychiatry, diagnostics, treatment