Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy is an attachment-focused therapy developed by Dr. Daniel Hughes, which stems from evidence-based treatment for complex trauma, reactive attachment issues (RAD) and other issues with attachment.
DDP is inherently relational in its approach, meaning both a child and caregiver are actively involved in the intervention and both are reflecting on growing individually while also growing dyadically. DDP’s focus is to increase emotional awareness and regulation to improve the relational experience for the child and between the child and caregiver.
DDP achieves this outcome by using affective-reflective dialogue and playfulness, acceptance, curiosity and empathy (PACE). PACE shapes how one behaves, communicates, feels and thinks to allow a child to feel safe. It is through this sense of security that exploration and healing can begin.
Playfulness is about learning how to adjust one’s tone to be light and rhythmic and to express and show interest in the child. This is not about using humor or silliness to resolve pain or sadness, rather, it is about creating an atmosphere that is non-threatening that allows the child to be emotionally vulnerable. There is an absence of criticism or judgment.
Acceptance is about actively communicating the acceptance of the wishes, feelings, thoughts, urges, and perceptions that are connected to the outward behaviors. Acceptance does not imply accepting of the outward behaviors but the understanding of where they are rooted.
Curiosity is about how we engage a child without judgment in self-exploration about their emotional experiences and inner life they have that lead to behaviors. This curiosity is asking “I wonder what you were feeling when…?” instead of asking “Why did you do that?”
Empathy is the ability for an emotional experience to be shared between the caregiver and the child. Rather than statements of sympathy it is communication and conveying of compassion and understanding of a child's experience.