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Co-Creators

Dr. Nicole Letourneau



Nicole Letourneau, PhD RN, 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 $60 million in research funding over her 20+ year career, with $20+ 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 Principal 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 190+ 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



Martha Hart, PhD, is the co-creator and instructor of the ATTACH™ program and is a Cambridge trained researcher at the University of Calgary/Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute, board member of IASA, and founder of The Owen Hart Foundation.


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

Her 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.

Staff


Dr. Lubna Anis

Instructor



Lubna Anis, is a foreign trained physician, PhD, and a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Calgary. Her background is in clinical medicine and project management, but she is also well-trained in administering various standardized measures to assess parent-child relationships, and child health and development. 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, immune health, and child health and development.

Dr. Anis shows tremendous interest in gaining an understanding of measure development, immune health, and implementation science for her post-doctoral project. She plans to identify a convenient measure of attachment and immune health that can be used in community practice. These interests are underpinned by an interest in learning more about implementation science and its methods, which have tremendous potential to restore the bridge between research findings and clinical practice. Indeed, while health research provides an increasing body of evidence of valuable interventions that could be applied in clinical practice and/ or in community, only a fraction is translated into real-world clinical settings to address pressing clinical needs of patients and populations. Therefore, her project will address an important overlooked topic in health research: Implementation Science.

Virginia Xavier

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

Research Assistant


Jason Novick is a Research Assistant with the Owerko Centre at the University of Calgary/Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute. 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.

Facilitators

Joanna Piekarski


Joanna Piekarski is originally from Toronto, Ontario, where she completed her undergraduate degree in psychology at York University. She started her work in the field of child development as a behavioural therapist where she first found her passion for early brain science. She continued her education at the University of Toronto where she completed a M.Ed developmental psychology and education.

Most recently, Joanna has also completed a post-graduate fellowship in infant-parent health and the University of Massachusetts Boston, further expanding her passion for attachment-based interventions. Joanna has worked in the non-profit sector as a child development specialist since 2014, which is where she began collaborating with the ATTACH team during their first pilot study. During this time, Joanna expressed a strong interest in the program and was trained as an ATTACH facilitator. Along with her casual position with the ATTACH team, Joanna is also currently a registered psychologist in private practice. 

Michelle Koerner



Michelle is a certified ATTACH facilitator and has been facilitating ATTACH since the ATTACH team conducted their research project at Discovery House Family Violence Prevention Society.

Michelle completed her Social Work Diploma at Mount Royal University and her undergraduate degree in Social Work at the University of Calgary. She then went on to obtain a Master of Social Work degree in the Clinical Specialization, also from the University of Calgary. Her interest in attachment was sparked through her work with women and children who had experienced trauma in abusive relationships. She believes that fostering secure attachment between parents and their children is a key factor in preventing intergenerational trauma. Michelle currently works as a Mental Health Clinician and Trauma Specialist for a non-profit organization in Calgary, Alberta.