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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How we show up in relationships can be greatly impacted by how we were treated and cared for as young children. Attachment theory teaches that how we participate in relationships, both romantic and platonic, is affected by how we were treated as children. I help clients learn how to be in relationships that are both healthy and honoring to who they are. As humans, we are created to be in deep and meaningful relationships and I can help clients have them.

— Jessica Warburton, Professional Counselor Associate in Tigard, OR

Attachment is a universal experience and influences so much of how we relate to others. My work previously with children with neurodevelopmental concerns focused heavily on creating healthy attachment with caregivers to promote development. As such, I have experience navigating areas that are strengths of caregiver attachments as well as areas that may have not met the needs of a client and are subsequently affecting later relationships with others or self.

— Elizabeth Mann, Licensed Clinical Social Worker

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.

— Laura McMaster, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Atlanta, GA

Attachment theory is one of the main ways I work with clients. I believe our attachments to our caregiver significantly affects the way we view the world and relationships as an adult which can result in a secure or insecure attachment. As a therapist I help clients heal insecure attachments by providing a secure place for them to connect and grow they they never received as a result. The counseling relationship is one of the most important aspects in my work with each client.

— Victoria Hicks, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Atlanta, GA

Attachment theory shows us how our earliest relationships inform how we show up in current relationships. Learning about your own attachment style and the style others gives you critical insight into how you feel around the people in your life, and why your relationships perhaps are thriving as you would like them to.

— Patrick Donley, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Iowa City, IA

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, Mental Health Counselor in Atlanta, GA

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

Everyone needs healthy attachment bonds. Attachment is a deep human, and even mammalian need. We literally need to be securely attached to others in order to feel safe, supported and live a fulfilling life. Our survival actually depended on it in human history. Most relationship challenges arise from the fact that people feel their safe and secure attachment to a loved one is threatened. This activates survival alarms in the brain. Healthy attachment is vital in relationships.

— Annette Barnett, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Saratoga, CA

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 believe that the framework for the relationships that we saw & experienced growing up influences how we approach & feel secure in our romantic relationships.

— MacKenzie Knapp, Marriage & Family Therapist in Tacoma, WA

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

Understanding attachment theory and add in the PloyVagal theory you get a sense of greater ways to regulate yourself in and out of your relationships. The patterns you learned in the styles of attachment in your multigenerational linage can play a large part in the way your body responds to conflict and connection. Over time we get to explore and heal these old patterns to bring on more thrive in your life.

— Karen Lucas, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Seattle, WA

"Attachment" in psychology simply refers to the nature of the bonds we have to other human beings. The quality of our earliest relationships with our primary caregivers shapes our nervous systems, tells us whether the world is safe for us or not, and creates a relational blueprint that we bring with us into adulthood. Many of us have had less than ideal attachment blueprints, but the neat thing is that they are absolutely up-date-able with thoughtful, attachment informed therapeutic care.

— Danielle Davis, Licensed Professional Counselor Associate in Portland, OR

Ideally, we would all grow up in a delightfully safe and warm environment, with caregivers perfectly attuned to our every need and supporting us every step of the way. Most of us do not experience this perfection, and that is totally ok. Without placing blame on your caregivers, we will identify the attachment experiences that were lacking for you and heal what was lost. Attachment therapy can help deepen your relationships, give you stronger emotional regulation skills, and spark your inner joy

— Laura Stephan, Psychologist in Roseville, MN

Research shows that the attachment bonds we create with others affect every aspect of our physical and mental health “from the cradle to the grave” (Bowlby, 1979, p.129). Furthermore, we know that attachment styles are malleable and that attachment injuries may be healed. I seek to help you foster secure, healthy attachment with your significant others and, ultimately, with yourself. Specifically, I'm trained in Emotionally Focused Therapy (and Emotionally Focused Family Therapy).

— Penelope (Nel) Mercer, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Diego, CA

I provide Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), the gold standard treatment for child disruptive behaviors. PCIT was developed through UC Davis Children’s Hospital and has been shown by 40 years of research and 100’s of studies to effective for children as young as 12 months and as old as 10 years. A recent study has even shown PCIT to be more effective for disruptive behavior than stimulant medication.

— DC Hamilton, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Claremont, CA

Understanding one's attachment style alongside other attachment styles, generally known as anxious, avoidant, and secure attachment styles, helps illuminate great opportunities for interpersonal and personal growth in one's life. This is determined through assessment, bibliotherapy, insight into one's condition, and experiencing growth through the integration of one's Self within their efforts to connect and bond with others.

— Roderic Burks, Licensed Professional Counselor in Denver, CO

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

I believe our earliest experiences and relationships create the framework for how we relate to ourselves and others in adulthood. Understanding and repairing these dynamics can help us recognize and step outside of unconscious behavior patterns that keep us stuck or prevent us from growing and changing.

— Renee Floer, Licensed Professional Counselor in New Orleans, LA