Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP)

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About This Program

Target Population: Families with children/teens with disorders of attachment and trauma. Typically adopted and foster children, those who meet the DSM-V criteria for Reactive Attachment Disorder, and trauma-related diagnoses, and those who meet the clinical criteria for Complex Trauma (aka Developmental Trauma Disorder)

Brief Description

DDP is a model of treatment and parenting for children with problems secondary to abuse, neglect, and multiple placements. When a child's early attachment history consists of abuse, neglect, and/or multiple placements, he/she has failed to experience the dyadic (reciprocal) interaction between a child and parent that are necessary for normal development and he/she often has a reduced readiness and ability to participate in such experiences. Many children, when placed in a foster or adoptive home that provides appropriate parenting, are able to learn, day-by-day, how to engage in and benefit from the dyadic experiences provided by the new parent. Other children, who have been much more traumatized and compromised in those aspects of their development that require these dyadic experiences, have much greater difficulty responding to their new parents. For these children, specialized parenting and treatment is often required.

Within this model, the foundation of these interventions--both in home and in treatment--must incorporate attitude based on playfulness, acceptance, curiosity, and empathy. It must never involve coercion, threat, intimidation, and the use of power to force submission.

Note: There has been controversy regarding Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy as an appropriate treatment. Based on the available literature, there is no evidence of harm from the use of DDP as described by the developers. For more information on this issue, please refer to the Attachment Interventions definition and to the following references:

Becker-Weidman, A., & Hughes, D., (2008) Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy: An evidence-based treatment for children with complex trauma and disorders of attachment. Child & Family social Work, 13, pp. 329-337.

Becker-Weidman, A., (2011-2012). Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy: Effective Treatment for Complex Trauma and Disorders of Attachment. Illinois Child Welfare, 6(1), pp 119-129.

Becker‐Weidman, A., & Hughes, D. (2010). Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy: an effective and evidence‐based treatment–comments in response to Mercer and Pignotti. Child & Family Social Work, 15(1), 6-11.

Chaffin, M., Hanson, R., & Saunders, B. E. (2006). Reply to Letters. Child Maltreatment, 11(4), 381-386.

Mercer, J., Pennington, R. S., Pignotti, M., & Rosa, L. (2010). Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy is not ‘evidence‐based’: comments in response to Becker‐Weidman and Hughes. Child & Family Social Work, 15(1), 1-5.

Pignotti, M., & Mercer, J. (2007). Holding therapy and dyadic developmental psychotherapy are not supported and acceptable social work interventions: A systematic research synthesis revisited. Research on Social Work Practice, 17(4), 513-519.

Program Goals:

The goals of Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy are different for the child and the caregiver as listed below.

Goals of Treatment for the Child:

  • Develop a more secure pattern of attachment
  • Resolve trauma symptoms
  • Secure a more permanent connection and relationship with the committed caregiver

Goals of Treatment for Caregivers:

  • Increase attunement with their child
  • Develop reflective function
  • Use attachment-facilitating parenting approaches
  • Increase sensitivity

Contact Information

Arthur Becker-Weidman, PhD
Agency/Affiliation: Center for Family Development & Attachment-Focused Treatment Institute
Website: www.center4familydevelop.com
Phone: (716) 810-0790
Fax: (719) 636-6243
Daniel A. Hughes, PhD
Website: www.danielhughes.org
Phone: (717) 673-6119

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: March 2016

Last CEBC Contact Date: February 2018

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: February 2018

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: June 2014