Nancy E Suchman PhD

Associate Professor of Psychiatry and in the Child Study Center

Research Interests

Mother-child relations; Human attachment; Substance abuse; Intervention development and evaluation; Neurobiology of parenting and addiction

Current Projects

  • Development and evaluation of mentalization-based parenting interventions for mothers with substance use and psychiatric disorders



Research Summary

Dr. Suchman’s research integrates perspectives from attachment theory, neuroscience of addiction and developmental psychopathology. She has published in the developmental, pediatric, family, adult psychiatry and addiction literature. Her work focuses on the development and evaluation of parenting interventions that aim to enhance representations of children, reflective functioning and caregiving sensitivity in mothers with substance use disorders. She has also evaluated treatment integrity and mechanisms of change in her intervention research. She has applied attachment, developmental and ecological perspectives to the study of substance using mothers’ parenting. She is also developing a program of research examining the role of infant and toddler distress cues in substance-using mothers’ affect dysregulation and relapse to drug use.


Selected Publications

  • Suchman, N., Pajulo, M., & Mayes, L. (Eds.) (2013). Parenting and substance addiction: Developmental approaches to intervention. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Suchman, N. E., DeCoste, C., Rosenberger, P., & McMahon, T. J. (2012). Attachment-based intervention for substance using mothers: A preliminary test of the proposed mechanisms of change. Infant Mental Health Journal, 33, in press.
  • Suchman, N., Pajulo, M., Kalland, M., & DeCoste, C., & Mayes, L. (2012). Mentalization-based interventions for at-risk mothers of infants and toddlers. In A. W. Bateman & P. Fonagy (Eds.). Handbook on mentalizing in mental health practice, pp. 309-346. London, England: American Psychiatric Publishing.
  • Suchman, N., DeCoste, C., McMahon, T., Rounsaville, B., & Mayes, L. (2011). The Mothers and Toddlers Program, an attachment-based parenting intervention for substance-using women: Results at 6-week follow up in a randomized clinical pilot, Infant Mental Health Journal, 32, 427-449.
  • Suchman, N., DeCoste, C., Castiglioni, N., McMahon, T., Rounsaville, B., & Mayes, L. (2010). The Mothers and Toddlers Program: An attachment-based parenting intervention for substance-using women: Post-treatment results from a randomized clinical trial, Attachment and Human Development, 12, 483-504. PMCID: PMC2928150
  • Suchman, N. E., DeCoste, C., Rosenberger, P., & McMahon, T. J. (in press). Attachment-based intervention for substance using mothers: A preliminary test of the proposed mechanisms of change. Infant Mental Health Journal.
  • Suchman, N., DeCoste, C., Leigh, D., & Borelli, J. (2010). Reflective functioning in mothers with drug use disorders: Implications for dyadic interactions with infants and toddlers. Attachment and Human Development, 12, 567-585. PMCID: PMC2953729
  • Pajulo, M., Pyykkönen, N., Kalland, M., Sinkkonen, J., Helenius, H., Punamäki, R., & Suchman, N. (in press). Substance abusing mothers in residential treatment with their babies: importance of focusing in pre-and postnatal maternal reflective functioning. Infant Mental Health Journal.
  • David, D., Gellberg, L., & Suchman, N. (in press). The implications of homelessness for parenting young children: A preliminary review from a developmental attachment perspective, Infant Mental Health Journal.
  • David, D., McMahon, T., Luthar, S., & Suchman, N. (in press). Readiness for change, coping strategies, and desire to engage in high-risk behavior: Paradoxical effects of ego development for substance abusing women. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry.

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