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!

Need help finding the right therapist?
Find Your Match

Meet the specialists


Attachment Theory focuses on how our adult selves were impacted by childhood and adolescent relationships and experiences. We all need emotional attunement, support, kindness, and challenge from our care givers and loved ones so that we can enjoy healthy and balance relationships with others and ourselves. Through an attachment lens, I encourage clients to reflect on the impact their upbringing had on who they are today, from their greatest strengths to their greatest struggles.

— Devin Bard, Licensed Professional Counselor in Minneapolis, MN

Understanding how our early attachment experiences impact our individual and relational selves leads to more empathetic engagement in relationships, self-compassion, & enhances our ability to communicate & be understood by our partners & loved-ones.

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

The way we were taught to relate to the primary people who provided us care when we were babies and children can shape how we act in relationships as adults. Establishing an understanding of how we connect with others in different contexts can help improve communication skills and expression of intention, which can improve the quality of relationships. I use individual family of origin history to help guide clients as they work on understanding their participation in relationships.

— Kendra Smith, Associate Professional Counselor in Portland, OR

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 ,

It's fascinating to have a strong understanding of your attachment style, including the contributing factors. This becomes the foundation for a framework of understanding - who we are, why we do and say the things we do- why we have certain relationship challenges and successes. This knowledge and understanding paves a unique path to healing.

— Christine Kotlarski, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in ,

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

Whether it's with a family member, friend, or intimate partner, relationships are an integral part of life. How those relationships add or extract value from our lives also depends on how we connect with others. This connection, or attachment, is developed in early infancy between a child and their caregiver and impacts our ability to both receive and give love, safety, comfort as well as impacts our thoughts, feelings, and expectations. Understanding attachment expands awareness and growth.

— Carisa Marinucci, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Las Vegas, NV

The journey to healing is so much about relationship, and the "theory of attachment" is a wonderful way to put into words how we relate to everything in our world. I use the language of attachment alongside the other modalities in order for couples, individuals, groups to understand how and why they relate they way they do. This awareness allows us to adjust how we relate, and in doing so, move towards healing and health.

— Aaron Kelsay, Counselor in Portland, OR

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

Attachment theory focuses on the how we have learned to experience ourselves and others through the relationships that we were raised in, and can help to inform who some people struggle with trust, intimacy and communication in intimate partner relationships as well as how these struggles may be improved through therapy and couples therapy. Attachment theory is closely related to both family systems and object relations models of psychotherapy.

— Joseph Winn, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Concord, MA

I am training in the Developmental Model of couple/relationship therapy. This model looks at each person's attachment as well as the relationships developmental stage, aiming to improve communication and relationship satisfaction. I utilize a variety of therapeutic tools for assessment and provide homework and feedback for clients looking to improve their relationship to self and others. I utilize an attachment framework when working with individual clients as well.

— Birch Snogles, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in ann arbor, MI

We offer Attachment Assessments to help you uncover and explore your attachment style. We also utilize Attachment Theory in psychotherapy to find connections between your early life and difficult present experiences.

— Spaces Therapy, Marriage & Family Therapist in Los Angeles, CA

Two approaches that use in my practice are mainly based on the attachment theory.

— Maria Grishkina, Licensed Professional Counselor Intern in Plantation, FL

Attachment theory is based upon our innate need for inner nourishment and a steady foundation to build a sense of self. From the core of our being outward, a steady sense of safety and security within the infant/caregiver dance, sets the stage for a healthy nervous system and well-developed, unique self. Regardless of one's childhood, life can have a way of interrupting our safety and security, which can be re-patterned, recharged and renewed in a warm therapeutic relationship.

— Caroline Gebhardt, Licensed Professional Counselor in Atlanta, GA

I utilize attachment theory when working with children, adolescents, teen, adults, and families. I help individuals and families build positive attachments and learn about repairing past attachment ruptures to manage healing in current-day relationships.

— Amber Lynn Connell, Licensed Professional Counselor in Hatboro, PA

As babies, we come into the world quickly forming relationships with our caregivers. Those caregivers can either be a source of safety and connection or a distant or harsh parent. As children dependent on our caregivers we begin to create safety for ourselves in any way we can. As we grow older we carry these ways of survival with us which plays out in our adult relationships. These may manifest in us as codependency, low self-esteem, and people-pleasing.

— Joshua Bogart, Professional Counselor Associate in Beaverton, OR

I like to think about attachment this way: the templates we use to shape our experience of the world are formed in childhood. If we were raised by caregivers who projected that everything is okay, that is the default way we tend to view life situations. If we were raised by caregivers who were in fear, rage, depression, then we tend to see the world as scary-unsafe-not okay. I love to work with people to develop a secure sense of attachment, even if their beginnings were scary-unsafe-not okay.

— Bob Fischer, Mental Health Counselor in Seattle, WA