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Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-Up (ABC) Intervention

Meets DHHS criteria for an evidenced based model

Model Overview

Last Updated

May 2016


Theoretical Model

The intervention is based on attachment theory and stress neurobiology.


Model Components

The ABC Intervention is a training program for caregivers that a parent coach delivers in the family’s home. Sessions 1 and 2 are designed to help caregivers reinterpret children’s behavioral signals, providing nurturance even when it is not elicited. Sessions 3 and 4 are designed to help caregivers learn to follow their children’s lead. Sessions 5 and 6 are designed to help caregivers recognize their own overwhelming or frightening behaviors and develop alternative responses. Sessions 7 and 8 are designed to help caregivers overcome automatic responses to their children that are based on their past experiences and could interfere with providing nurturing, sensitive care. Sessions 9 and 10 are designed to reinforce knowledge gained during previous sessions.

The most crucial aspect of the intervention is the parent coach’s use of immediate feedback (referred to as "in the moment" comments) on the caregiver’s interaction with the child. Throughout the home visiting session, the parent coach comments on the caregiver’s interactions to help the caregiver attend to the target behaviors, including following the child’s lead with delight, using nurturing behaviors, and avoiding frightening behaviors. The model also incorporates homework and video feedback.


Target Population

The ABC Intervention is a training program for caregivers of infants and young children 6 to 24 months old, including high-risk birth parents and caregivers of young children in foster care, kinship care (such as a grandparent raising a grandchild), and adoptive care.


Where to Find Out More

Caroline Roben, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences
University of Delaware
Newark, DE 19716