VIDEO: Attachment Work with Cut-Off Kids

Becoming Part of the Young Client’s Story

When Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy developer Dan Hughes first started working with children who struggled with serious behavioral and emotional problems, he knew something was missing in his approach. Dan found the answers he was looking for in Attachment Theory—or at least most of them. Attachment Theory told him plenty about the symptoms and behaviors of his clients, but there were no instructions he could immediately apply to working with kids and families. He had to experiment and think outside the box to develop his own attachment-informed way of doing therapy.

One of the crucial skills he’s developed over the years is learning how to gain the trust of a child who has every reason to fear and mistrust adults. Dan does this by carefully helping kids develop their own story about their lives, communicating that he’s genuinely interested in getting to know them. In this brief video clip, Dan recreates the words and affect that arose when he listened to the story of a 5-year-old boy who’d been abused at the hands of his father.


Rich Simon

Richard Simon, PhD, founded Psychotherapy Networker and served as the editor for more than 40 years. He received every major magazine industry honor, including the National Magazine Award. Rich passed away November 2020, and we honor his memory and contributions to the field every day.

Dan Hughes

Daniel A. Hughes, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist in the treatment of children and adolescents who have experienced abuse, neglect, trauma and attachment disorganization. He helped to develop Dyadic Developmental psychotherapy, an attachment-focused treatment model that relies on the theories and research of attachment and intersubjectivity. He is known for creating the PACE Model which facilitates play, acceptance, curiosity and empathy when working with children. 

Dr. Hughes is the author of several books including, Building the Bonds of Attachment, 2nd edition (2006), Attachment-Focused Family Therapy Workbook (2011), and co-wrote Brain-Based Parenting: The Neuroscience of Caregiving for Healthy Attachment. He has provided training and consultations to therapists, social workers and parents throughout the U.S., Canada, UK, and Australia and provides regular trainings across the United States and Europe. Dr. Hughes received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Ohio University.