Department of Family Therapy Dissertations and Applied Clinical Projects

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences


Tommie V. Boyd

Committee Member

Christine A. Ajayi

Committee Member

Christopher F. Burnett


The Susan B. Anthony Recovery Center (SBARC) in Pembroke Pines, Florida is a residential center where women live with their children while receiving treatment for a variety of co-occurring substance abuse and mental health issues and while participating in mandatory parenting classes. Unlike most women's residential treatment centers, which address only the woman and her problems, SBARC treats the mother-infant/child dyad. I designed and created a database to examine the data previously available only in the paper client records of over 800 women who received treatment at SBARC from 1995 through 2010 in a previous project. This nonexperimental, retrospective explanatory study (Johnson, 2001; Johnson & Christensen, 2014) analyzed that newly digitized historical data to examine the efficacy of the SBARC treatment with respect to three key variables: dyadic attachment, maternal anxiety, and maternal depression (N = 268). Correlational analysis (MANOVA) of the three variables showed significant results, which suggest that reductions in maternal anxiety and maternal depression may be related to increases in the quality of the dyadic attachment. Statistical analysis (ANOVA) found significant increases in dyadic attachment and decreases in maternal anxiety and maternal depression. The results of this nonexperimental study support the need for future research via controlled studies to determine the relationships among these key treatment variables. Grossmann, Grossmann, and Waters (2005) and others claim that improvement in dyadic attachment improves outcomes for children. Dodge, Sindelar, and Sinha (2005) and others also believe that reductions in maternal depression and maternal anxiety may result in better outcomes. The results of this study suggest that there is value in combining these two perspectives so that measurements of dyadic attachment, maternal anxiety, and maternal depression inform future program offerings and treatment plans. The multi-disciplinary foundation of attachment theory and its rich offering of systemic and relational therapy approaches provides what I believe may be an effective blend of treatment options supported by useful empirical measures that can greatly enhance and expand professional competencies of Marriage and Family Therapists involved in clinical practice with similar at-risk populations.

Files over 10MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "Save as..."

Share Feedback

  Link to NovaCat