Attachment, Self-Regulation, and Competency: A Comprehensive Framework with Complexly Traumatized Youth (ARC)

Type of Approach:

  • Individual

Provider Education Level:

  • Masters Degree
  • PhD


Trauma Type:

  • Child Abuse
  • Community Violence
  • Disrupted Attachment
  • Domestic Violence
  • Gang Violence
  • Multiple
  • Neglect
  • Sexual Abuse

Trauma Symptom:

  • Anxiety
  • Attachment
  • Depression
  • Externalizing Behaviors
  • Internalizing Behaviors
  • PTSD


  • Day Care
  • Headstart and Early Education Programs
  • Other Community Settings
  • Residential
  • School


Type of services:

ARC is a flexible framework for working with children and families who have experienced multiple and/or prolonged traumatic stress. ARC identifies three core domains (building secure attachments, enhancing self-regulatory capacities, and increasing competencies across multiply domains) that are frequently impacted by trauma among youth. ARC provides a theoretical framework, core principles of interventions, and a guiding structure for working with children. Recognizing that a one-size model does not fit all, ARC uses a menu-based approach so that interventions can be selected to meet a child’s needs and strengths. Interventions include psychoeducation, relationship strengthening, social skill development, parent education training, and psychodynamic, cognitive, behavioral, relaxation, art/expressive and movement techniques.

Program setting:

Clinics, schools, and community settings such as transitional housing for homeless clients who have experienced domestic violence

Length of program/number of sessions:

Depends on client’s needs

Type(s) of trauma/concerns addressed:

Physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, exposure to domestic violence, and community violence.

Type of service provider:


Unique/Innovative Characteristics:

The goal of creating the ARC framework was to identify key principles that translate across service settings. ARC principles have been applied in a range of settings including residential treatment settings, schools, and day programs.

ARC is a strengths-based model that emphasizes the importance of building or rebuilding safe relational systems and promoting resiliency.

Date Added/Updated:



  • 6-12 (Childhood)


  • English

Ethnic Racial Group:

  • American Indian, Alaska Native, Other Indigenous
  • Asian
  • Black or African American
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Immigrant or Refugee
  • Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
  • White

Caregivers Included:

  • Mother

Population Adaptations:

Age range of children serve:

5 to 17 years old

Are parent/adult caregiver(s) included in intervention?


Ethnic/racial and other groups served:

According to the NCTSN review, participants represent all categories of race and ethnicity including American Indian and Alaska Natives.

Languages that service/resource is available:



The ARC model is grounded in attachment and traumatic stress theories that focus on addressing the three core domains and ten key building blocks as shown below:

-Caregiver affect management
-Consistent response
-Routines and rituals

-Affect identification
-Affect modulation
-Affect expression

-Developmental tasks
-Executive functions
-Self development

Evaluation Studies:

Preliminary data from a pilot trial of a 16-week adaptation of the ARC treatment framework with children, ages 6 to 12 years old, and primarily adoptive or pre-adoptive caregivers.

Key evaluation results:

All children received individual care and children and parents participated in separate 6-week treatment groups. At six-month follow-up, there were significant reductions in children’s levels of anxiety, depression, dissociation, PTSD symptoms, and anger compared to baseline levels prior to the intervention. There were also significant reductions in children’s externalizing and internalizing behaviors and significant improvements in their adaptive skills. Caregivers reported reduced distress and viewing their children’s behaviors as less dysfunctional.

Kinniburgh K, Blaustein ME. The Trauma Center at JRI. Evaluation of the Attachment, Self-Regulation, and Competency (ARC) Model-Preliminary Data. PowerPoint presentation.

Publications about the program:

Treating Traumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents: How to foster Resiliency through attachment, Self-regulation and Compentecy. Book by, Margaret E. Blaustein and Kristine M. Kinniburgh

Kinniburgh K, Blaustein M, Spinazzola J, Van Der Kolk B. Attachment, self-regulation and competency. Psychiatric Annals. 2005;35(5):424-430.

Blaustein M, Kinniburgh K. Intervention Beyond the Child: The intertwining nature of attachment and trauma. British Psychological Society, Briefing Paper 26. 2007;48-53.

Rated/Reviewed by Evidence Based Registries:

National Child Traumatic Stress Network Empirically Supportive Treatments and Promising Practices

Training Contact:

Margaret Blaustein at or call 617 232-1303, ext. 214

Training Notes:

ARC provides a guidebook that offers a menu of possible strategies to address the three key domains. Since ARC is a theoretical framework versus a manualized protocol, the ARC guidebook does not provide session-by-session sequencing of interventions.

Program Contact