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Child Attachment &
Play Assessment


The CAPA is an on-going project with half a dozen empirical studies awaiting completion and submission, but only one peer-reviewed publication demonstrating convergent validity with other attachment assessments (Farnfield 2015). The CAPA distinguishes between endangered (largely children in foster care) and community children (Farnfield 2015).

Future work is expected to demonstrate:

  • Construct validity regarding attachment security/insecurity and known risks in the environment (Farnfield unpublished, 2020; Onions unpublished, 2020)
  • Stability of attachment using the CAPA over a two-year period with a group of highly traumatised institutional children was 70% which compares favourably with other studies (Farnfield in preparation, 2020)
  • A significant association between attachment strategy and a clinical diagnosis of anxiety disorder and depression on the CAPA correlated with a diagnosis of depression (Farnfield in preparation, 2020)
  • Correspondence between unresolved trauma on the CAPA and validated trauma scales (Zhang & Farnfield, in preparation)
  • Correspondence of CAPA constructions in case studies with (a) predicted biophysical data (heart rate variability, cortisol) (Hadiprodjo, unpublished, 2018; Zhang in preparation) and (b) cortisol & alpha amylase (Zhang in preparation).

Farnfield, S. (2015). The child attachment and play assessment (CAPA): a new approach to coding narrative stems with children aged 3 to 11 years. International Journal of Play Therapy. 25, 217-229.

Farnfield, S. & Onions, C. (2022): The role of affect regulation in developmental trauma: an empirical study of children in residential care, Journal of Child Psychotherapy, DOI: 10.1080/0075417X.2021.2015421

Farnfield, S. (unpublished, 2020) Report for the Mulberry Bush School: attachment, trauma and play. University of Roehampton/ Mulberry Bush School.

Hadiprodjo, N. (unpublished, 2018)Heartfelt Play: An exploratory case-based analysis of cardiac activity within play therapy dyads and children’s play narratives. PhD Dissertation, University of Roehampton.

Onions, C. (unpublished, 2020) From research to practice at a residential school: The Mulberry Bush. British Educational Research Association Conference.

Zhang, F. & Farnfield, S.  (in preparation) Comparing diagnoses of child PTSD with the assessment of developmental trauma.

Zhang, F. (in preparation) The bio-physiology of developmental trauma: cortisol and alpha amylase.