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The Ambiance Project

Happy Family

The AMBIANCE Project, funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Partnership Development Grant (SSHRC-PDG), is a research and community partnership with the goal of validating and implementing an observational tool for use in family services settings. This collaborative and applied research project aims to bridge the knowledge-to-practice gap in child and family services. The AMBIANCE observational tool is anchored in attachment research and possesses strong psychometric properties. The benefit of observational measures is that they are strongly associated with child outcomes. The development of a practical and empirically-supported observational assessment tool that can be used by practitioners will aid family services agencies and program directors in intervention planning, staff training, and risk screening activities.

AMBIANCE-Brief Training

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What is the AMBIANCE-Brief?

The acronym refers to the Atypical Maternal Behavior Instrument for Assessment and Classification, which is an observational tool anchored in attachment research that screens for disrupted parenting behaviors. The AMBIANCE-brief is a condensed version of the full instrument that can be used in clinical settings. This tool can be used to identify the most at-risk families, and aid family services with intervention planning, staff training, and risk screening activities.

Why is this tool important?

The AMBIANCE-brief possesses strong psychometric properties. The tool focuses on the most salient indicators of problematic parenting behavior, and can predict infant-parent disorganized attachment. This practical and empirically-supported observational assessment tool can contribute important information to family assessments, intervention planning, and intervention evaluation.

What is the training?

In order to use the AMBIANCE-brief, attendance of the training workshop and achievement of reliable coding is required. The training workshop is hosted online via Zoom over the course of 3 days (6hrs/day). The cost of the training is $400 USD.


The training workshop is led by clinical psychologist, Dr. Sheri Madigan. Dr. Madigan is one of the three certified AMBIANCE trainers, along with Drs. Karlen Lyons-Ruth and Elisa Bronfman, and has led AMBIANCE trainings in Canada and around the world, as well as online.

What is the reliability test?

At the end of the training, workshop participants code 8 reliability videos independently. Individual scores                          are then compared to expert rater scores and participants who are consistent with the expert rater scores are                    deemed reliable in the use of the AMBIANCE-brief measure.


Who is the training for?


The AMBIANCE-Brief is intended for use in clinical and community practice settings, for practitioners who supervise and/or directly provide intervention, coaching, and assessment to families receiving care.

For more information or to register 

contact us at:

Community Partners

  • The Brenda Strafford Society for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (Calgary, Alberta)

  • Family and Children's Services of Guelph & Wellington County (Guelph, Ontario)

  • The Therapeutic Family Care Program (Durham, Highland Shores, Kawartha-Haliburton, Ontario)

  • The Children's Aid Society of Toronto Child Welfare Institute (Toronto, Ontario)

  • Centre Integré Universitaire de Santé et de Services Sociaux du Centre-Sud-de-l'Île de Montréal (Montreal, Quebec)

  • Centre Integré Universitaire de Santé et de Services Sociaux de la Capitale Nationale (Quebec City, Quebec)

Research Collaborators

Project Director: Dr. Sheri Madigan (University of Calgary)



  • Dr. Heidi Bailey (University of Guelph)

  • Catherine Borland-Kerr (Family & Children's Services of Guelph & Wellington County)

  • Dr. Chantal Cyr (Université du Québec à Montréal)

  • Dr. John Haltigan (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Hospital for Sick Children)

  • Dr. Karlen Lyons-Ruth (Harvard Medical School)

  • Dr. André Plamondon (Université Laval)

  • Dr. Nicole Racine (University of Calgary)

  • Dr. George Tarabulsy (Université Laval)

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