Mary Dozier

Associate Professor 
Ph.D., Duke University, 1983

Department of Psychology
Phone: (302) 831-2286: Office

Office: Room 231Wolf Hall: 831-6486: Lab (302) 831-3645: Fax

Research Interests

 My research program primarily concerns babies and children who have experienced disruptions in care giving.  As a result of problematic care giving histories, foster children often develop patterns of interacting that make it difficult for them to develop trusting relationships with their foster parents. We have developed an intervention program to help foster and adoptive parents understand, reinterpret, and react more therapeutically to the strategies their children have developed. The intervention is being implemented at the time babies and toddlers are placed with foster parents, and whenever children are moved to other foster parents, biological parents, or adoptive parents. We are assessing the effectiveness of the intervention, as well as the effects of timing and frequency of placements, on parental sensitivity, child-caregiver relationship quality, and child behavioral and emotional problems. (This research is supported by a grant from NIMH.) We are especially interested in processes of change for children who have experienced relationship disruption. In particular, what must a foster parent provide to an infant so that the infant will learn to rely effectively on him or her? Parents who are more sensitive and more coherent (or secure) are expected to be able to provide environments which are most conducive to change for foster children.

In the Lab

Wanda Spotts (University of Delaware) I have been with the research team for two years. I began as the Research Coordinator and am now the Foster Parent Trainer. Mary has designed a training program that sensitizes parents to childrenÕs attachment strategies. Our expectation is to train 150 foster parents on attachment strategies. I am a full-time professional employee of the University of Delaware and a contractual employee of BCDSS.

Chase Stovall, M.A. (B.A. 1992, Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas; M.A. 1997, University of Delaware) I am in currently in my fifth year of graduate study at the University of Delaware. I came to Delaware after completing my undergraduate degree at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas and working for two years as Milieu Coordinator at CPC Capital Hospital in Austin, Texas. My primary research interest is attachment and the effects of trauma on development. My masterÕs thesis examined the evolution of new attachment relationships in 10 foster infant care giver dyads. My results indicated that only those infants who were placed before 12 months of age and with foster parents with autonomous attachment states of mind developed secure attachment relationships. This work is under review in Development and Psychopathology.  My dissertation continues this work with 40 infant-caregiver pairs and looks at group differences with regards to the evolution of a new attachment. Variables of interest include timing of placement, history of maltreatment and foster parent attachment state of mind. I am also involved in the beginning of a study examining cortisol reactivity and regulation in foster parents.

Clinically, I have had experience primarily with adults and parents in a variety of practica settings including Cecil County Domestic Violence Rape Crisis Center and Cecil County Community Mental Health. My current practicum placement is in Wilmington at Survivors of Abuse in Recovery. I have a primary interest in working with adults who have traumatic life experiences. This summer, I will be leaving to go on a one-year clinical internship training to finish up my PhD training.

Katie Albus, M.A. (B.A. 1993, Duke University; M.A. 1998, University of Delaware) I am currently in my fourth year at the University of Delaware. I came to Delaware after spending two years as a research assistant at the NIMH.  My primary research interest is attachment and developmental risk, with particular interests in the significance of maternal sensitivity, the development of externalizing problems in children, and the development of prevention and intervention programs for high-risk children.

My dissertation research centers on the significance of maternal sensitivity to children's distress, and how sensitivity in this particular context mediates the relationship between maternal state of mind with regard to attachment and mother-infant attachment. This project has provided a unique opportunity for collaboration with Mary's and Dr. Ron Seifer at Brown University. Using data from Dr. Seifer's ongoing study of risk and development, we are currently investigating this issue via extensive home observations of biological mother-infant dyads.

I maintain an active interest and involvement in Mary's foster care study. I am particularly interested in assessing the effectiveness of our lab's attachment-based intervention for infants in the foster care system, and in investigating the developmental sequelae of foster care placement, particularly with regard to the development of behavior problems.

My clinical experience is primarily with high-risk children and adolescents, and my current clinical practicum placement is with the Department of Child Psychiatry at the University of Maryland Medical Center. I work with high-risk children and adolescents through the School Mental Health Program at the University of Maryland, and conduct focused psychological and psychoeducational evaluations at the Maryland Center for Attention and Developmental Disorders.

Brady C. Bates, M.A. (B.A. 1992, University of Washington; M.A. 1998, University of Delaware) I am currently in my third year at the University of Delaware.  I came to Delaware after spending three years as a research assistant for the Washington State Department of Social Services.  My primary research interest is attachment with particular emphasis on the formation of maternal representations of children.  I am also interested in the development and evaluation of prevention and intervention programs for at-risk children.

My masters research focuses on factors influencing foster mothers' representations of foster infants.  Specifically, I focused on the interaction between maternal state of mind with respect to attachment and child age at placement in predicting foster mothers' acceptance, commitment, and belief in their ability to influence the development of foster infants.  I anticipate that my dissertation research will continue along this line of inquiry.

My clinical experience is primarily with high risk school-age children.  My current clinical practicum is with Upper Bay Counseling and Support Services (UBCSS).  UBCSS focuses on providing both clinic and school based services for children from low income families.  I provide school based therapeutic services to children experiencing a wide range of presenting problems.

Recent Publications

           Foster Care and Attachment           Attachment States of Mind and Psychopathology

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