Does training in the Circle of Security framework increase relational understanding in infant/ child and family workers?

Catherine McMahon*, Anna Huber, Jane Kohlhoff, Anna Lisa Camberis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


This article evaluated whether attendance at Circle of Security training workshops resulted in attendees showing greater empathy and attachment-related knowledge and understanding, and fewer judgmental responses to viewing a stressful parent–child interaction. Participants were 202 practitioners who attended and completed a 2-day (n = 70), 4-day (n = 105), or 10-day (n = 27) COS training workshop in Australia or New Zealand in 2015. In a pre/post design, participant reactions to a video clip of a challenging parent–child interaction were coded for empathic, judgmental, or attachment-focused language. Attachment understanding was coded in response to questions about the greatest challenge that the dyad faced. In all training conditions, participants provided significantly more attachment-focused descriptors and showed significantly greater attachment understanding after training, but significantly fewer empathic descriptors. While participants at the longer workshops provided significantly fewer judgmental/critical descriptors, there was no change for those attending the 2-day workshop. Irrespective of workshop duration or professional background, participants took a more relational perspective on the vignette after the training workshops. More detailed research is required to establish the extent to which this increased knowledge and understanding is retained and integrated into infant mental health practice with parents and young children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)658-668
Number of pages11
JournalInfant Mental Health Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2017


  • attachment theory
  • Circle of Security
  • Infant Mental Health training

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