Dyadic developmental psychotherapy (DDP)
Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP)
Dyadic developmental psychotherapy (DDP) is an attachment-focused therapy which was developed by Drs. Daniel Hughes and Arthur Becker-Weidman. It is an evidence-based therapy for complex trauma, reactive attachment issues (RAD), and other issues with attachment. It is frequently used to treat children in foster care and adoptive families, specially those who have experienced abuse, trauma, or neglect. It is a family-focused approach to therapy that includes principles like a focus on relationships, intersubjectivity, attunement, and sensitive responsiveness.
What to expect?
As per Dr. Becker-Weidman, one of the primary proponent, this form of psychotherapy was actually developed as an intervention for children who have experienced emotional trauma for chronic early maltreatment within the caregiving relationship. The basic goal of DDP is to support these children in enhancing the ability to maintain attachment-based relationships with parents and caregivers. The approach is based upon various theories, including the attachment theory and the work of John Bowlby and Daniel Stern.
DDP holds high regards towards the parent-child relationship and uses this “dyad” as the platform for healing. During the term of treatment, parents are taught a specialized, trauma-informed parenting approach and the children learn emotional regulation and interpersonal relationship skills. DDP takes into account both of these processes simultaneously in order to facilitate a trusting and secure relationship between parent and child.
When is it used?
There are many applications of DDP, several researches claim many children and families experience the following benefits from dyadic developmental psychotherapy:
- Improved interpersonal relationship skills
- Reduction in controlling behaviors
- Improved ability to cope with stress and improved emotion regulation
- Improved quality of relationship and bond
- Increased sense of safety and security with caretakers
- Increased insight into emotional experiences
How does it work?
In general, DDP treatment follows the below given structures:
- The therapy begins by establishing rapport with the parents, assessing their parenting styles, and then teaching them the specific method.
- The therapist then assist parents practice and prepare for their role in the therapeutic process of keeping their child engaged in session. This preparation also includes the exploration of the parents' own attachment histories and how they might be triggered by the behaviour of the child.
- When the therapist understands that the parents are ready, the child is called into therapy.
- The therapist now spend time modeling to talk with the child, ascertaining and understanding the child's own ideas of his or her history, and preaching the child emotion regulation.
- The therapist then on asks the child to talk with his or her parents and a theme is identified. The therapist there on coaches the parents to assist the child to create new meaning out of the abandonment that was experienced b him or her.
- After this, the therapist conducts several sessions in the above mentioned manner and occasionally proceed by conducting parent sessions in order to check in and recheck as needed.
- Treatment is terminated when the therapist assesses and ca-liberate that the child is securely attached and the intersubjective connection occurs without the aid and intervention of the therapist.
Role of therapist:
DDP therapists begin treatment by teaching parents a technique which is known as PACE parenting. PACE is abbreviation for Playful, Accepting, Curiosity, and Empathy. Parents are taught through explanation about how to interact with their child and work to understand the child's behavior, all while remaining calm and understanding (that is, emotionally regulated), even in tough situations.
Becker-Weidman, A., (2012) The Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy Primer, Williamsville, NY: Century.
Becker-Weidman, A., (2008) "Treatment for children with reactive attachment disorder: dyadic developmental psychotherapy" Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Volume 13 (1), 2008, pp. 52-60.