What is ARC?

The Attachment, Regulation and Competency (ARC) Framework

ARCThe Attachment, Regulation and Competency (ARC) Framework is a flexible, components-based intervention developed for children and adolescents who have experienced complex trauma, along with their caregiving systems. ARC’s foundation is built upon four key areas of study:

  • normative childhood development
  • traumatic stress
  • attachment
  • risk and resilience

Drawing from these areas, ARC identifies important childhood skills and competencies which are routinely shown to be negatively affected by traumatic stress and by attachment disruptions, and which – when addressed – predict resilient outcome.

ARC is designed as both an individual level clinical intervention, to be used in treatment settings for youth and families, and as an organizational framework, to be used in service systems to support trauma-informed care. Caregiver goals are designed to translate across many different types of caregiving systems, including primary (i.e., biological, kin, and foster parents), milieu (i.e., residential, group home), and organizational (i.e., teachers, youth program providers) systems of care.

The ARC Domains and Targets

ARC is organized around three primary domains of intervention, and identifies 8 key treatment targets. These domains and targets are briefly described below.

Attachment. The framework focuses on strengthening the caregiving system surrounding children through enhancing supports, skills, and relational resources for adult caregivers.

Regulation. Many young people who experience trauma are referred for treatment services or struggle in settings like school as a result of difficult behaviors, out of control emotions, and impulsive or disorganized bodies. Underlying these challenges is often a difficulty with regulation – of feelings, of thoughts, and of physical experience. Treatment emphasizes cultivating youth awareness and skill in identifying, understanding, tolerating, and managing internal experience.

Competency. The framework addresses key factors associated with resilience in stress-impacted populations. A goal of intervention utilizing ARC is to go beyond pathology reduction, and to increase positive / resilient outcomes among youth receiving intervention.

Woven throughout the ARC approach is an emphasis on engagement (why does this goal matter?), psychoeducation (why are we doing this?), and routine (what can I expect?).

ARC’s ultimate goal is support children, adolescents, and caregivers in effective engagement in the world, in a manner that is empowered and future-oriented, rather than focused on survival.

Project 180 provides educator and administrator training on the ARC framework and how to apply the framework in concrete and meaningful ways throughout the school system.

Learn more about the ARC Framework

ARC Consultants and Trainers

Margaret E. Blaustein, Ph.D.

Margaret E. Blaustein, Ph.D.

ARC Co-developer and Consultant

Margaret E. Blaustein, Ph.D., is a practicing clinical psychologist whose career has focused on the understanding and treatment of complex childhood trauma and its sequelae. With an emphasis on the importance of understanding the child-, the family-, and the provider-in-context, her study has focused on identification and translation of key principles of intervention across treatment settings, building from the foundational theories of childhood development, attachment, and traumatic stress. With Kristine Kinniburgh, Dr. Blaustein is co-developer of the Attachment, Self-Regulation, and Competency (ARC) treatment framework (Kinniburgh & Blaustein, 2005), and co-author of the text, Treating Complex Trauma in Children and Adolescents: Fostering Resilience through Attachment, Self-Regulation, and Competence (Blaustein & Kinniburgh, 2010). She has provided extensive training and consultation to providers within the US and abroad. Dr. Blaustein is currently the Division Director for Trauma Training and Education at The Trauma Center at JRI in Brookline, MA, and is actively involved in local, regional, and national collaborative groups dedicated to the empathic, respectful, and effective provision of services to this population.

Jon Ebert, Psy.D.

Jon Ebert, Psy.D.

ARC Trainer and Consultant

Dr. Ebert is Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and is a licensed clinical psychologist with extensive clinical and consultation expertise in the assessment and delivery of services to children and families who have experienced traumatic stress and mental health challenges. Dr. Ebert is Director of the Vanderbilt Center of Excellence for Children in State Custody (COE) which is part of a statewide network funded under an agreement with the State of Tennessee to improve the public health by enhancing the quality of services provided to children in or at-risk of entering the Tennessee child welfare or juvenile justice systems.