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Attachment, Emotional Regulation and Perception of the Institutional Environment in Adolescents in Residential Care Context
Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal  (IF1.862),  Pub Date : 2021-05-13, DOI: 10.1007/s10560-021-00763-y
Catarina Pinheiro Mota, Tatiana Gonçalves, Helena Carvalho, Mónica Costa

There is a scarcity of studies that relate attachment, emotional regulation difficulties and perception of the institutional environment among adolescents in a residential care context (RCC). Research has suggested the negative effects of RCC on the physical, cognitive and emotional development of children. Nonetheless, there appears to be significant variability in the quality of protection and care offered in RCC, with important implications for the development of children and adolescents. Establishing affective relationships can make a difference in the adaptation and perception of the institutional environment, as well as in the capacity for emotional regulation, among this population. The aim of the present study is to analyze the predictive role of adolescents’ attachment to significant figures of affection in the perception of the institutional environment, by testing the moderating effect of emotional regulation difficulties on the previous association. The sample consisted of 296 adolescents, between the ages of 12 and 18 years (M = 15.30; SD = 1.76). The instruments used for data collection were the Experiences in Close Relationships (ECR), the Family Environment Scale (FES), the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS) and a sociodemographic questionnaire. The results suggest that attachment dimensions are not associated with the perception of the institutional environment. However, there is a moderating effect of emotional regulation difficulties on the previous association. The results will be discussed according to attachment theory, given its importance for the perception of the institutional environment and for emotional regulation difficulties, among adolescents in residential care contexts.