Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education and International Services


Counseling Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Dennis Waite

Second Advisor

Nancy Carbonell

Third Advisor

Tevni Grajales



The best outcome for attachment when an infant is born would be a secure attachment, but this is not always the case. Insecure attachments are likely to be formed when the mother has experienced domestic violence given the right environment (Huth-Bocks et al., 2011; Theran et al., 2005). A previous study showed that changes to attachment due to postnatal intervention are based on external behaviors rather than internal though processes (Theran et al., 2005). Because of this, the purpose of this study is to compare therapy categories and each of the observable attachment factors.


Participants completed a survey which measured the tolerance, acceptance, pleasure in proximity, and competence as a parent in regard to the mother's response to her child(ren) ages zero to six months old, as well demographic information. Data was analyzed using a one-way multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA), a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA), post hoc tests, and a path analysis to answer two main research questions and five sub-questions.


The MANOVA results showed a marginally significant difference among the trauma therapy categories on the dependent variables. Subsequent ANOVA results showed that, individually, trauma therapy had a significant effect on tolerance, pleasure in proximity, and competence as a parent. Bonferroni post hoc analysis showed that not attending therapy significantly differs from attending group therapy in regard to competence as a parent. The hypothesized model was a good fit for the data. This model indicated a weak statistically significant direct effect of childhood abuse on trauma therapy. Race, childhood abuse, and support system all had weak statistically significant direct effect on ATT and trauma therapy had a weak moderately significant direct effect on ATT.


This study was designed to help understand if various types of trauma therapy could be effective in the formation of a more secure attachment between mother and infant when the mother has had a history of domestic violence. This study also looked to understand if various demographic factors have an effect on the attendance of trauma therapy or on ATT, either directly or as mediated through trauma therapy. Results have indicated that when looking at maternal attachment responses, it may be more beneficial to look at the individual types of trauma therapy and areas of attachment rather than at trauma therapy and attachment as wholes. In regard to demographic factors, there were weak significant direct effects found for both trauma therapy and ATT. This study also offers various implications for future research and professional practice.

Subject Area

Mother and infant; Family violence; Traumatology