Attachment Theory

Attachment theory, first developed by John Bowlby, is a psychology concept focused on the importance of attachment in relation to personal development. According to Bowlby’s theory, attachment is not a one-time event, but an ongoing process that begins at birth and continues through the first years of life. Fundamental to attachment theory is the belief that a child's relationship with the primary caregiver (usually the mother), affects their attachment style for the rest of their life. Unresolved or insecure attachment issues experienced in early childhood can have a negative impact on relationships into adulthood. A therapist who specializes in attachment theory can help.  Reach out to one of TherapyDen’s experts today!

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The attachment work I do is deep and transformative and sometimes escapes words. I have received specialized Somatic training with Kathy Kain and Stephen J. Terrell which approaches attachment theory work from the bottom up versus the top down. This means bringing my attention to healing the early age physiology first before approaching the adult cognitive brain, which comes second. I also include consciousness and intention around my own attachment style when working on this deep level with clients.

— Vanessa Tate, Marriage & Family Therapist in Denver, CO

Attachment-Based Family works by rebuilding trust within the parent-child relationship—providing a solid foundation that promotes authentic connection and enhances teen mental health. This type of family counseling provides a clear path to achieving what both parents and children want most: closer, more meaningful relationships with one another. As a result, teens feel safe turning to their parents for support—and that leads to improvements in teen mental health and reductions in suicide risk.

— Newport Academy, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor in Orange, CA

I use attachment theory as a basis to meet the client where they are, authentically and wholeheartedly​. It is a process​ to understand, communicate and experience the​ client's ​ ​life experiences​​ with them​, and to help them gain their own insights​. I utilize attachment theory as the basis for understanding the individuals development, impacting their relationships, work and life. When we look through this lens we increase a sense of connection and safety.

— Laura Janikowski, Clinical Social Worker in Chandler, AZ

In the process of therapy, one's internal working models which are formed in childhood and their consequent influence on adult relationships are to be revisited. In my practice, I utilize attachment theory and archetypal psychology. The symbolic material, including dreams and transference interactions are considered important aspects of the in-depth therapeutic experience.

— Dr. Nadia Thalji, Psychotherapist in San Francisco, CA

Many of us have not received the love, comfort, and understanding that we need. This often occurred early in life, and that has set us up for pain in the ways we try to relate to others and get our needs met in relationship. You may have heard of the "anxious attachment style" or the "avoidant attachment style." My interest in working with you would be to create a safe place to be authentically you, no matter what. I do this by listening to you as deeply as I can, tending to you, being with you.

— Lisa Wenninger, Counselor in teletherapy only, CA

Attachment theory (in a nutshell) looks at how our early life experiences (think infancy) shaped our our nervous systems function in relationship. How we attach to our early caregivers can inform our implicit beliefs about ourselves and others and our relationship patterns. Although most of this is unconscious, becoming aware of these patterns can help us learn our own patterns. Using attachment principles we can also to build healthier and happier relationships.

— Stephanie Boulton, Counselor in Longmont, CO

Attachment Based Therapy recognizes the influential role that our early caregivers have in shaping how we are in relationships throughout our lives. When our early relationships are inadequate (either physically or psychologically), we can build up psychological coping skills to protect ourselves. These methods of coping are often very adaptive in the moment, but can interfere with our ability to engage in healthy relationships now. Therapy can help create healthier ways of being in relationship

— Dana Basu, Psychologist

Much of my lens is founded in exploring the relational coping mechanisms developed in childhood, and how they live on and impact relationships today. The better we are able to understand the ways we have been unconsciously trying to protect ourselves and how these actions impact others, the more empowered we are to shift to emotional processing and communication tools that help support the relationships and lives we strive for.

— Elizabeth Hawkins, Sex Therapist

Attachment Theory is about discovering that how a person was cared for & related to in their early years still effects them today especially in close relationships. When we were young we learned if the world was safe or not. To make us feel safe we isolated or became people pleasers. These patterns continue on into adulthood & can be very disruptive in all relationships. There are ways to feel emotionally safe so you can thrive.

— Kathleen Thompson, Licensed Professional Counselor in Portland, OR

I have received formal training in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), and continue to receive ongoing training and supervision in this model. EFT is an evidence-based model rooted in attachment theory that is proven to help couples and individuals navigate distress and foster long-lasting connection and change.

— Maureen Backman, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Pacifica, CA

The most fundamental relationships in our lives are those that we form early on, with our caregivers. They provide the scaffolding upon which we base our interactions with other people, the world, and ourselves. If a caregiver does not meet the basic physical and emotional needs of the child, then wounds are formed that influence how we relate to everything in our lives going forward. I work with people to understand how their attachment patterns might be influencing their life currently.

— Amanda Richardson, Licensed Professional Counselor Associate in Austin, TX

As an attachment therapist, I am well versed in the needs of babies and children and the ways these create trauma and future problems as adults. If our parents did not teach our brains how to regulate our emotions, we do not magically gain these skills later, and often experience trauma or anxiety as a result. In couples & parenting work I help couples/parents recognize and unlearn the attachment styles they learned as children showing up in their relationship to be effective partners & parents.

— Linnea Logas, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Minneapolis, MN

Early attachment experiences with our parents shape the adults that we become. The goals of attachment-based therapy are to address the limiting effects of negative early attachment experiences & strengthen the capacity for secure relationships & adaptive actions in the world. By creating a secure trusting relationship with my clients, they are then able to express the types of communications, emotions, perceptions, & behaviors missing in their childhood.

— Robyn Shapiro, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in , CA

My work with clients is heavily informed by the perspective that one of our strongest survival drives is to attach to a primary caregiver. Our relationship to our earliest caregiver leaves an imprint in terms of the adaptive coping responses we employ later in life, which impact our adult relationships in myriad ways.

— Sophia Boissevain, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in San Francisco, CA

Attachment theory is focused on the relationships and bonds between people, particularly long-term relationships, including those between a parent and child and between romantic partners. My background is in human development which focuses heavily on childhood attachment. I have taken that experience and applied it to my current client work while continuing to study and research current attachment information.

— Barbara Ferri, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in San Diego, CA

I am an attachment oriented therapist, which is the science of bonding and safety. As an attachment therapist, I work in the moment, in our relationship, working to create a safe relationship for you to explore your full self. I believe deeply in the power of therapy in rewiring our systems to be oriented towards cultivating more fulfilling relationships in our lives.

— Erica Berman, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Oakland, CA

Attachment theory understands emotional and social development through the lens of the parent-child connection in early childhood. The safety of this relationship has profound effects on the individual's growth across the lifespan. I have been trained to utilize this model to better understand how my clients, both children and adults, perceive their place in their relationships and how they understand their own identities.

— Cristina Shea, Psychotherapist in New York, NY

Attachemnt is the basis from which we form relationships

— Erin Callahan, Therapist in Silver Spring, MD