Research Information

Circle of Security Intervention: Evidence Base, Publications, and Awards

 

Designations as an Evidence-Based Intervention

  • 2013    Listed as Evidence-Based/Evidence Informed Programs

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Children’s Bureau Child Welfare Information Gateway lists Circle of Security as an Evidence-Based/Evidence Informed Program. https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/parented.pdf

  • 2013    Designated as Promising Practice in child welfare

The Washington State Institute of Public Policy (WSIPP) and the University of Washington Evidence Based Practice Institute designates Circle of Security a Promising Practice. http://circleofsecurity.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/WSIPP_Promising_Practices_1.31.13.pdf

  • 2013    Circle of Security (Home Visiting-4) has been rated as “Promising Research Evidence” in home visiting, infant and toddler mental health and parent training.

Circle of Security (Home Visiting-4) has been rated as “Promising Research Evidence” by the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare in the topic areas of: Infant and Toddler Mental Health Programs (Birth to 3), Parent Training Programs and Home Visiting Programs and Home Visiting Programs for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. http://www.cebc4cw.org

  • 2002   Designated as a Reported Effective Program

The Circle of Security program is designated as a Reported Effective Program by the Emerging Practices in the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect Project, Children’s Bureau Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children & Families. https://www.childwelfare.gov/preventing/programs/whatworks/report/report.pdf

  • 1999   Recognized as an Exemplary Practice, Early Head Start Federal Review

“. . . The Regional Office recognizes Spokane's Early Head Start Program for its leadership in the area of Attachment and Bonding and its partnership with [Circle of Security].  The Regional Office has designated this work as an Exemplary Practice and recognizes it as a model for other programs.  This designation will be shared with the Central Office in order to build upon and expand the base of Best Practices for Early Head Start.”      - Early Head Start Federal Review (June, 1999)

 

Circle of Security Research: Empirical Publication          

Hoffman, K., Marvin, R., Cooper, G. & Powell, B. (2006). Changing toddlers' and preschoolers' attachment classifications: The Circle of Security Intervention. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 74, 1017-1026.

The study goal was to examine whether the COS intervention would prove effective in reducing attachment disorganization and insecurity. We hypothesized that after intervention there would be (a) a significant decrease in disorganized attachment classifications in particular, and (b) a significant decrease in insecure attachment classifications overall.

Both hypotheses were supported. First, there was a significant decrease in disorganized attachment status from pre- to post-intervention; at baseline, 60% of children were categorized as disorganized, while at follow-up only 25% were so categorized. Second, there was a significant decrease in insecure attachment status from pre- to post-intervention. At baseline, 80% of children were categorized as insecure, while at follow-up only 46% were so categorized.

 

Cassidy, J., Ziv, Y., Stupica, B., Sherman, L. J., Butler, H., Karfgin, A., Cooper, G., Hoffman, K. T., & Powell, B. (2010). Enhancing maternal sensitivity and attachment security in the infants of women in a jail-diversion program. In J. Cassidy, J. Poehlmann, & P. R. Shaver (Eds.), Incarcerated individuals and their children viewed from the perspective of attachment theory. Special issue of Attachment and Human Development.

The study involved a jail-diversion program titled “Tamar’s Children.” Women who were identified as pregnant in jail or who were pregnant during their sentencing period were offered the opportunity to enroll in this jail diversion program. Twenty mothers completed treatment and were seen with their 12-month-olds in the Ainsworth Strange Situation attachment assessment. Fourteen of the 20 infants (70%) were classified as securely attached to mother. This rate of security is significantly higher than rates typically observed in samples of high-risk mothers, and was identical to the rates typical of low-risk, middle-class samples. In addition, only four infants (20%) were classified as insecure/disorganized, the insecure subgroup with highest risk for psychopathology. This rate of disorganization is significantly lower than that found in at-risk samples, and it is identical to the rate that is typical of low-risk, middle-class samples.

 

Cassidy, J., Woodhouse, S., Sherman, L., Stupica, B., & Lejuez, C. (2011). Enhancing infant attachment security: An examination of treatment efficacy and differential susceptibility. Journal of Development and Psychopathology, 23, 131-148.

Irritable newborns and their economically-stressed mothers were recruited from hospitals in the greater Washington, D.C. area to participate in a randomized control trial of the Circle of Security-Home Visiting Intervention (COS-HV4).  The study goal was to examine the moderating effects of infant irritability and maternal attachment on the effectiveness of the COS-HV4 at reducing the rates of insecure infant-mother attachment.  The four session COS-HV4 intervention took place during three home visits lasting an hour and a half each and one brief fourth follow-up visit between infant ages 6.5 and 9 months. 

Results indicated that for dyads that were particularly at-risk for insecure infant attachment (e.g., a dismissing mother with a high-irritable infant) the intervention significantly reduced the risk of insecure attachment.

 

Kohlhoff, J., Stein, M., Ha, M., & Meiaha, K. (2016). The Circle of Security Parenting (COS-P) intervention: Pilot evaluation. Australian Journal of Child and Family Health Nursing, 13, 3-7.

Despite the popularity and widespread use of the Circle of Security Parenting (COS-P) intervention, there is a surprising lack of published evidence for its effectiveness. The major aim of the current study was to examine pre-post treatment changes in parental reflective functioning, caregiver helplessness, negative feelings about the child and parental stress following participation in the COS-P intervention. Fifteen mothers with a child aged <= two years of age who presented to a primary level parenting service or who were recruited through child and family health nursing networks participated in this study. Participants attended a COS-P program and completed self-report measures before and after the intervention. Results showed decreased levels of caregiver helplessness, decreased feelings of fear, anger and rejection towards the child and decreased levels of stress. Clinical implications and directions for future research are discussed.

 

Additional Publications

Powell, B., Cooper, G., Hoffman, K., & Marvin, B. (2013).  The Circle of Security Intervention: Enhancing attachment in early parent-child relationships.  New York, NY:  Guilford Press.

Zanetti, C., Powell, B., Cooper, G., & Hoffman, K. (2011).  The Circle of Security Intervention:  Using the therapeutic relationship to ameliorate attachment security. In J. Solomon & C. George (Eds.).  Disorganized attachment and caregiving (pp. 318-342). New York, NY:  Guilford Press.

Blome, W.W., Bennett, S., & Page, T. (2010). Organizational challenges to implementing attachment-based practices in public child welfare agencies: An example using the Circle of Security model. Journal of Public Child Welfare, 4(4), 427-449.

Page, T. & Cain, D.S. (2009). “Why don’t you just tell me how you feel?”: A case study of a young mother in an attachment-based group intervention. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 26(4), 333-350.

Powell, B., Cooper, G., Hoffman, K., & Marvin, R. (2009).  The Circle of Security. In C. Zeanah (Ed.), Handbook of infant mental health, (3rd ed., pp. 450-467). New York, NY:  Guilford Press.

Avery, L., Matthews, J., Hoffman, K., Powell, B., & Cooper, G. (2008).  Project Same Page: An evaluation of an attachment training seminar. Journal of Public Child Welfare, 2, 495-509.

Cooper, G., Hoffman, K., Marvin, R., & Powell, B. (2007).  Clinical application of attachment theory: The Circle of Security approach. In K. Golding (Ed.), Attachment theory into practice, Briefing Paper No. 26, British Psychological Society.

Powell, B., Cooper, G., Hoffman, K. & Marvin, R. (2007). The Circle of Security: A case study. In D. Oppenhiem & D. Goldsmith (Eds.). The added value of attachment theory for clinical work:  Bridging the gap between research and practice (pp. 172-202). New York, NY:  Guilford Press.

Cassidy, J. & Powell, B. (2006) Help baby develop a secure attachment.  In S. Ettus (Ed.). The Expert’ guide to the baby years (pp. 214-216). New York, NY: Clarkson Potter Publishers.

Cooper, G., Hoffman, K., Powell, B., & Marvin, R. (2005).  The Circle of Security intervention: Differential diagnosis and differential treatment. In L. J. Berlin, Y. Ziv, L. M. Amaya-Jackson, & M. T. Greenberg (Eds.).  Enhancing early attachments: Theory, research, intervention, and policy (pp. 127-151).  New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Cassidy, J., Woodhouse, S. S., Cooper, G., Hoffman, K., Powell, B., & Rodenberg, M. (2005).  Examination of the precursors of infant attachment security:  Implications for early intervention and intervention research. In L. J. Berlin, Y. Ziv, L. M. Amaya-Jackson, & M. T. Greenberg (Eds.).  Enhancing early attachments: Theory, research, intervention, and policy (pp. 34-60).  New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Marvin, R., Cooper, G., Hoffman, K. & Powell, B. (2002). The Circle of Security Project: Attachment-based intervention with caregiver-pre-school child dyads. Attachment & Human Development, 4, 107-124.

Reprinted in German (2003) as:  Das Projekt Kreis der Sicherheit: Bindungsgeleitete Intervention bei Eltern-Kind-Dyaden im Vorschulalter in Scheuerer-English, H., Suess, G. & Pfeifer, W. (Eds) Wege zur Sicherheit.

 

Awards

2013    Bowlby-Ainsworth Award for clinical applications of attachment theory and research:  New York Attachment Consortium

2013   Advocate of the Year Award for Education:  Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital Spokane, Washington

2005   Regional Award of Honor "Delivering the Dream”:  Head Start Region 10 Department of Health and Human Services

2005   Community Service Award:  SPO-CAN Counsel for the Prevention of Child Abuse

2000   Governor’s Award for the Circle of Security Project:  Washington Counsel for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect