Understanding the Use of Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy & Practice

Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy or DDP is a framework where looked-after and supported children experiencing traumatic incidents are given skilled help to combat the after-effects. Do you want to know more? Let us discuss DDP, its utility, and it’s time of application in a child’s life.

Understanding DDP – the involvement of children 

‘Dyadic’ means ‘related to two people’ – here they are the children and their caregiver, and this therapy helps with the problems in their relationship with each other. This discipline helps to rekindle the bond between caregivers and their children; especially, it enriches the emotional connection between the two mentally estranged parties. It is challenging for children who have lost the ability to trust or put their faith in the adults – most probably due to some situation where the adults, who cared for them, have let them down.

It is a recurring problem for children who have had good care from a loving adult and then had to leave the said adult – often common in adopted or supported children. The children move around too much to retain their trust in the adults anymore. DDP is utilized by the parents and the children together for this reason. The parents have to be present with the child.

This treatment’s ‘development’ side focuses on the developmental trauma the children and adolescents have experienced – which consists of social, emotional, and cognitive development. This trauma can occur in a wide variety of ways, particularly for a specific child and their situations – it is pretty standard if you can’t make any head or tail of it.

The therapy aims to determine if and how your children’s development has been affected. It also helps to find out how to help the child developed and progressed through the traumatic experiences.

The persons in need of DDP

DDP helps children and young persons require the home environment and the parenting methods to be safe and nurturing on both emotional and physical levels.  The therapy also includes parents.

Principle and concepts of DDP in short

The principles and concepts of dyadic developmental psychotherapy are explained below in short:

  • Attachment: 

Attachment is an absolute term that refers to an emotional relationship that cultivates between child and caregiver, in which the child seeks out emotional and bodily protection. Practical attachment provides the child with well-being, safety, and an atmosphere for positive growth. A positive connection puts a cheerful touch on the child’s cerebral, passionate, and somatic development.

  • Inter-subjectivity: 

This word has a particular meaning in DDP. It means the dynamic between two people who share a common experience. Alternatively, when multiple persons within a reciprocal relationship influence the knowledge of the other – inter-subjectivity occurs.

  • Developmental Trauma:

The traumatic events or experiences that directly impact the development of the affected children come under this term. The experiences may include distressing events, mistreatment, or neglect because of the parent’s inability or un-availability to accomplish their protective role. Developmental problems may cause problems later in life, including weakened development, interpersonal development, and communication problems.

  • Relationship-Focused: 

The term is self-explaining. As the treatment involves the children and their parent/caregiver, its methods and targets come primarily under family therapy and focus mainly on the nuances of the relationship.

DDP is the brainchild of Drs. Daniel Hughes and Arthur Becker-Weidman. It is a proof-based treatment for complex trauma, reactive attachment issues, or other problems.

What are the aims of DDP?

The main aim of DDP is to cement attachment security in the child’s mind and educate the parents/caregivers about the correct method of developing a bond with a child suffering from attachment issues. Its secondary aim is listed as follows:

  • It helps you to forge a better relationship with your child.
  • It aids the child in regaining trust in attachment with an adult – in this case, you.
  • It helps you correctly understand the probable reasons behind or under your child or youth’s more stress-generating, baffling, or disturbing behavior.
  • It attempts to help your child, and you, add up the reasons behind the present day emotional state, points of view, behaviors, and the things that have taken place in the past.
  • It helps the child to understand the difference between the motives of you and other caregivers.

The method the coach or counselor will utilize will depend on how the child has learned to cope with their past experiences. For instance, if the child is showing trust deficiency (behavior that indicates that the child is finding it hard to show confidence in you or is hesitating or refusing to ask for help) – the coach or therapist will pay attention to this aspect. Likewise, if the child likes to control everything; or needs to always be in control – the coach or therapist will address this issue first. The coach, counselor or therapist will work to make the child feel secure and help form an attachment with their parent or caregiver.

How does DDP function?

DDP acts mainly to make the traumatized child regain trust in forming an attachment with a parent/caregiver. The methods used depend upon the child’s observable behavior, experience, and the trauma it has faced. However, in general, your coach or therapist will go through the following processes:

  • Facilitating you and your child to talk about stuff that occurs at present.
  • Supporting you and your child to make sense of their previous understandings and how these may influence and connect to currently occurring things.
  • Helping your child appreciate and lessen any humiliation that may be the reason for present behaviors initiated in their painful past.
  • Assisting the child to self-inspect and find qualities that generate pride and joy and reduce their shame. It also helps parents understand pride-eliciting qualities in their child, which remains underneath the child’s trials and shame-based perplexing behaviors.
  • The coach or therapist will work alongside you to make your child more in touch with their thoughts, emotions, and previous traumatic recollections. However, the coach or therapist will gradually reach this stage and start these exercises only when they think the time is right for this.
  • The coach or therapist will help you find out the most accommodating ways of child parenting.
  • The coach or therapist will help the parent and the child build a chronicle together that is emotionally integrated.

Going Slowly But Surely

DDP provides a safe environment for the traumatized child – even if they refuse or cannot voice their traumatic experiences. The coach or therapist will slow down the pace and assure the parent and child that it’s okay and reasonable not to talk. However, they will not ignore these complicated topics – but come to them unhurriedly so the parent-child relationship can develop at its own pace.


    CategoryChildren help