Seeing through an Attachment Lens: Clinical considerations for attachment-based assessments and interventions in contemporary psychotherapeutic practice


Wednesday, March 20, 2019 | 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

NYU Silver Center for Arts and Science
31 Washington Pl
New York, NY 10003

NYSED and ACE Approved for 3 CE contact hours


In recent decades, theorists and practitioners in attachment research have united the fields of developmental psychology, medicine and clinical social work in the recognition of maternal-infant bonding as the foundational relationship upon which the human psyche is built. This workshop draws not only from the pioneering works of developmental psychologists such as Bowlby, Ainsworth, Fonagy and Schore, but also on the remarkable advances modern science has made in revealing the precise biological mechanisms underpinning human attachments.

By seeing through an attachment lens, we equip ourselves and our clients to become conscious of how their earliest experiences in the maternal-infant dyad have set them on paths of mental wellness or mental illness. Participants in this workshop will enhance their capacities as clinicians to bring the insights of attachment theory into their daily psychotherapeutic practices. The seminar will include a lecture and review of key concepts, the presentation of case studies, and a guided discussion on the place of attachment-focused approaches and interventions in contemporary social work.

Learning Objectives


  • Make new connections between infant/maternal attachment styles and adult psychopathology
  • Propose potential case formulations through the lens of attachment theory
  • Explore and discuss the place of attachment-based theory and application in contemporary social work practice
  • Reflect on the potential need for further education on the biological mechanisms of maternal/infant interaction within the field of social work training


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Francesca Sternfeld, LMSW

Francesca Sternfeld, LMSW is a practicing psychotherapist at the Manhattan Mental Health Clinic of the Puerto Rican Family Institute. Her focus on attachment theory and research stem from her extensive background interacting directly with individuals across the life course as a multilingual educator serving early childhood, elementary, adolescent and adult populations. A citizen of the world, she has lived and worked in the United States, Egypt, Italy and Cuba in a diverse array of settings, communities, languages, cultures and disciplines. In her training and practice as a social worker, she has focused on understanding the ways in which empathic, affirming human relationships can be a locus of healing for individuals, families and communities.

Francesca is a graduate of the NYU Silver School of Social Work Master’s Degree Program, a Certified Montessori Elementary Instructor trained at the International Center for Montessori Studies Foundation in Bergamo, Italy, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Utah. She is fluent in Italian, French, Spanish and Arabic, and seeks to incorporate a global perspective in her daily work with clients, colleagues and practicing professionals across the disciplines of human services.