OUR TEAM

Our Instructors & Co-Creators

Dr. Nicole Letourneau


Dr. Nicole Letourneau

Dr. Letourneau is the co-creator of the ATTACH™ program. She also holds the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation Research Chair in Parent-Infant Mental Health and is the Director of RESOLVE Alberta.


She has received over $50 million in research funding over her 20+ year career, with $17+ million as lead investigator. Her Child Health Intervention and Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Studies Program develops and tests interventions to promote health of infants and children growing up in families affected by toxic stressors including parental depression, addictions, intimate partner violence and low-income. She is also the Principle Investigator of APrON, a 12-year longitudinal follow-up of a pregnancy cohort. Her research focuses on the impact of variables, e.g. parental distress, parent-child relationship quality, attachment, and supportive relationships on children’s health and development as well as the relationship between protective factors of quality parent-infant/child relationships and children’s physiological and developmental health.

Dr. Letourneau’s research promotes understanding of the relationship among social (caregiving) experiences, genetics, stress physiology and immune function, and children’s cognitive, behavioural and social-emotional development. She has published 150+ peer-reviewed papers, 150+ opinion editorials appearing in major print and on-line news outlets and two books for the lay public: Scientific Parenting: What Science Reveals About Parental Influence (2013) and What Kind of Parent Am I?: Self-Surveys that Reveal the Impact of of Toxic Stress and More (2018), both from Dundurn.

Dr. Martha Hart

Dr. Martha Hart

Dr. Martha Hart, Ph.D., is the co-creator of the ATTACH™ program and is a well-trained researcher at the University of Calgary/Alberta Children’s Hospital, board member of IASA, and founder of The Owen Hart Foundation.


Present research includes co-creating and pilot testing the Attachment and Child Health (ATTACH™) Intervention, which explores links between parental reflective function (RF) and parent/child attachment led by Dr. Nicole Letourneau.

Hart completed two degrees at the University of Calgary before moving to England to join the Centre for Family Research at the University of Cambridge where she completed her Masters and PhD programs in Social & Developmental Psychology under supervisor Dr. Claire Hughes.

She has published various peer-reviewed papers, a national bestselling book, and has co-edited Development and Adaptation: Seminal Papers on the Dynamic-Maturational Model of Attachment and Adaptation, published by Waterside Press, with another book in publication.

Hart was trained to administer the PDI at Yale University and the AAI by Howard Steele and Miriam Steele at the New School University New York, as well as Erik Hesse and Mary Main at Berkeley University. Hart is also trained by Howard Steele in RF (PDI), and in Reflective Family Play by Dianne Philip - at The Hincks-Dellcrest Centre Toronto. In addition, Hart trained with Alan Sroufe, and Elizabeth Carlson at the University of Minnesota, and Marinus van IJzendoorn at Cambridge University in the ABCD model of attachment, William Whelan in the MAC attachment measure at University of Virginia, as well as Patricia Crittenden in the DMM; she is a certified reliable coder in various attachment measures, RF measures, as well as a number of other parent/child interaction measures. She is also trained and certified in Suicide Prevention.

Our Facilitators


Lubna Anis

Lubna Anis

ATTACH™ Facilitator

Dr. Lubna Anis is a medical doctor (foreign trained) who is currently registered as a doctoral candidate at the University of Calgary.


Her doctoral research involves evaluating the Attachment and Child Health (ATTACH™) parenting program that focuses on improving parental Reflective Function to better promote child development. Her background is in clinical medicine and project management but she is also well-trained in administering various standardized measures to assess parent-child relationship and code parent-child interaction quality. She has been involved in various research projects focusing on maternal and child health at the Agha Khan University Hospital Karachi Pakistan, Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute and the University of Calgary. Her research interests include parent-child relationships, parent-child interaction quality, parental reflective function and child development. She is also interested in developing and testing more effective parenting programs to improve children’s and population health. Public health interventions, such as ATTACH™ are of keen interest to Dr. Anis as the program has the greatest potential to improve population health and can be delivered to most child bearing families internationally.

Joanna Piekarski

Joanna Piekarski

ATTACH™ Facilitator

Joanna has helped facilitate ATTACH™ pilots at CUPS Calgary Society and is a certified ATTACH™ facilitator.


Joanna is originally from Toronto, Ontario. She completed her undergraduate degree in psychology from York University. She started in the field of child development as a behavioural therapist where she gained valuable experience and acquired knowledge of proactive behavioural strategies. She became interested in learning more about brain science research and attachment-based interventions and continued her studies at the University of Toronto, completing a Masters Degree in Education, specializing in developmental psychology. Joanna is also working towards certification as a play therapist and is a post-graduate fellow at the University of Massachusetts Boston for Infant-Parent Mental Health. She is currently a Child Development Specialist for a non-for-profit organization in Calgary, Alberta.

Our Staff

Virginia Xavier

Virginia Xavier

ATTACH™ Research Assistant




Virginia Xavier is a the head research assistant on the ATTACH™ project and has worked for the University of Calgary for the past six years. She has been involved in several university research projects including the APrON Fetal Pro study and Fetal Pro RF Follow-up study. She has worked on the ATTACH™ project since its inception. Her primary responsibilities on the team are aiding with recruitment and retention of clients, facilitating scheduling of the appointments, creating questionnaire packages as well as their distribution and retrieval, and a number of other administrative tasks. She also assists with administering parent-child attachment measures as well as data entry.


Jason Novick


Jason Novick

Research Assistant



Jason Novick is a Research Assistant with the Owerko Centre at the University of Calgary/Alberta Children’s Hospital. Jason has contributed to the Action Team on Triadic Attachment and Child Health (ATTACH™) study on the research side via coding/transcribing/ analyzing data/writing and providing general assistance in various areas. He has also contributed to the Alberta Pregnancy Outcomes and Nutrition (APrON) study, the Fetal Programming of Infant Stress Reactivity and Atopic Disease follow-up study, and the Video-Feedback Interaction Guidance for Improving Interactions Between Depressed Mothers and their Infants study (VID-KIDS). He has also published various peer-reviewed papers.

Jason obtained his Master of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Western Ontario in 2012, under the supervision of Dr. Lorraine Davies and Dr. Bill Avison. For the master’s thesis requirement, he designed and conducted original research on the relationships between family structure, employment patterns, and mental health among mothers using the life course perspective. Jason has also worked as a Program Evaluation Services Officer at the Carewest Operational Stress Injury Clinic and a sessional faculty member with the Department of Sociology & Anthropology at Mount Royal University. Overall, Jason’s research and teaching interests are highly congruent with the ATTACH™ study’s mandate of optimizing the life course outcomes of vulnerable mothers and children in Alberta.