Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


This thesis explores Pikler and Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE) methods of parenting enhancement and intervention in an attempt to discover whether they promote attachment in the first three years of a child's life. I report on the Pikler and RIE literature, as well as past and current attachment theory and research. I begin with the work of Bowlby, Ainsworth, and Main and progress to the study of neurobiological, genealogy, adult attachment styles, coping and resiliency, and internal mental states. In the 1946, post-WWII, Emmi Pikler created an orphanage in Budapest, Hungary, The Pikler Institute, beginning a unique approach to childcare that sensitively responded to the needs of children in a relationally responsive and developmentally attuned manner. Pikler's close colleague, Magda Gerber, further developed the work, by bringing the methodology to families in the U.S. as a unique understanding of the relational needs and developmental competencies of infants. In order to understand the ways in which the Pikler and RIE methods promote attachment, my research sought to discover the links between attachment theory and the RIE and Pikler approaches. I endeavored to accomplish this by asking facilitators to describe specific behaviors of parent-infant dyads that exemplified the Pikler and RIE methods. I then analyzed the results in relation to various concepts of attachment theory. The results indicate that these methods promote attachment. I hope that by bringing this awareness to light that social workers and others working with infants and families with mental health issues based in attachment will find an accessible and practical tool through the methodologies of RIE and Pikler.


iii, 80 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2009. Includes bibliographical references (p. 70-72).