A One Day Workshop with Dr Dan Hughes

 Developing and Repairing Trust: An Attachment – based Model of Family Therapy.

M-L, CEO of Simply Counselling, and two Counsellors were very excited to have the opportunity to attend ‘A One Day Workshop’ with Dr Dan Hughes on ‘Developing and Repairing Trust: An Attachment – based Model of Family Therapy’ in London on Friday 27thSeptember 2019.

More information on the work of Dr Dan Hughes can be found at:



The excellent Workshop was really useful training for our “Families Affected By Domestic Abuse’ Project and, in particular, for our ‘Parent and Child’ Therapy funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.

Friday 27 September 2019 – London

A One Day Workshop with Dr Dan Hughes

The theories and research of attachment, intersubjectivity, and neurobiology have created a strong foundation for a model of family therapy that creates both the safety needed for parents and children to be openly present in the sessions as well as the patterns of engagement and exploration needed to create new family relational patterns. Parenting is very challenging, being influenced by the parent’s own attachment histories as well as by evolving models of family and community life. Finding a middle way between permissive and authoritarian approaches to parenting is often difficult when parents do not have their own attachment history as an effective guide. Parents are supported to remain open and engaged with their children while addressing the challenges of family living.

This model of family therapy enables parents to experience within the session itself ways of offering safety, sharing and co-creating experiences and repairing relationship stresses in a way that will transfer effectively to daily life within the home. In this model of therapy known as Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP) the therapist relates consistently with both parent and child in a manner that maintains safety while co-creating stories that reduce the shame or fears present in many family relational patterns. This workshop will also demonstrate this model of family therapy through videos and role plays of treatment sessions. There will be opportunities for discussions and questions.


09.30: Registration and coffee

10.00: Developmental Patterns of Trust and Mistrust
The thrust of our development tends toward one of two directions: We rely on our attachment figures to keep us safe and to guide us in learning the important developmental challenges that we face. Or we rely on ourselves to generate our own safety, though the efforts required will greatly compromise key features of our psychological, emotional, and cognitive development. Many children alternate between the two paths and when under stress, do not seem to do what might be best for them. Active in these two developmental pathways are neurobiological systems of defensiveness and of being open-and-engaged. Key relational characteristics of each pattern will be explored. Features that facilitate development within a healthy family will be presented as being the same features that enable therapy to support the development of such families.

11.15: Coffee

11.45: Building and Repairing Trust: In Therapy and at Home
Using the synchronized intentions and movements between parents and infants as our guide, the development of therapeutic conversations will be described in some detail. Features of intersubjectivity and their expression within therapy will be presented. The importance of the therapeutic attitude of PACE-playfulness, acceptance, curiosity, and empathy-will be highlighted, while describing the core features of each component. Finally, we will discuss how therapeutic exploration of defences and challenging behaviours undermines psychological safety for both the parent and child. We will consider how safety needs to be continuously re-established and the relationship repaired again before therapeutic explorations may continue.

13.00: Lunch

14.15: Therapeutic Safety and Engagement with Parents
The first focus of the attachment-based family therapist is to generate safety for the parents so the first sessions involve seeing the parents alone. The attitude of PACE is utilised to enable them to remain safe while the therapist explores their parenting attitudes, words and actions, addressing those which might undermine their child’s sense of safety and create relationship disruptions. The parents’ own attachment history will be explored in order to enable parents to understand their strength or resistance to change in their parenting behaviours. This stage of the therapy enables the parents to be safe enough to openly explore their relationships with their children and to prepare for the upcoming joint sessions with them.

15:30: Tea 

16:00: Therapeutic Safety and Engagement for All Family Members
Once the parents’ safety is established and maintained, the therapist and parents together create safety for the children. The therapist takes an active role ensuring that the child’s safety is maintained while helping them to begin to explore the fear, shame and vulnerabilities that lie under their defences and challenging behaviours. The parents are also given the support they need to respond with empathy to their child’s vulnerabilities, as they experience the deeper meanings of their children’s behaviours. The habitual relational patterns occurring at home are now understood while new patterns are developing. We will consider how the therapist can ensure that the therapeutic experience contains these new attachment-sensitive patterns.

16.45: Final Questions

17.00: End