What is Dyadic Development Psychotherapy?
Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP) was created by Dan Hughes, a Clinical Psychologist from the USA, as a treatment for families with adopted or fostered children who have experienced neglect and abuse in their birth families and suffered from significant developmental trauma.
Based on attachment theory, DDP builds on what we understand about developmental trauma, the neurobiology of trauma, attachment and caregiving, intersubjectivity theory and child development.
Troubled children may have experienced many changes in the people who look after them, moving from foster carers, to adoptive parents, or into children’s homes, and they find it very hard to trust adults. They may believe that parents aren’t safe and can’t always be turned to for comfort and help. They may develop insecure attachments and try to stop their new parents from becoming emotionally close to them. No matter how hard the parents try the child might push them away, and difficult living environments for everyone ensue.
DDP helps children learn to trust again, a very difficult concept when all the adults you thought you could trust have let you down. It is family-based intervention and involves the child with his or her caregivers (this may be adopted parent, foster parent, grandparent, social worker, or anyone principally involved in caring for the child), which focuses on the relationship between the caregiver and the child. The therapist works with the caregiver firstly, and helps them to attune to their child emotionally, understand the impact of the past trauma the child might have experienced, learn the therapeutic parenting strategies of PACE (Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy), and reflect on their own parenting. The child then joins the therapy, and together the therapist and caregivers help the child to try and make sense of their feelings, their past experiences and then help to rebuild a trusting, loving relationship with their caregiver.