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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I completed a post-grad program at Denver Family Institute that resulted in a certificate in Marriage/Couples and Family Therapy. During my 3.5 years at Denver Family Institute, I received instruction on a variety of attachment theories. I have worked with many clients over my 5 years as a therapist, using attachment theories to help them understand themselves and others by thoughtfully examining behaviors and reflecting on both past and present, significant relationships.

— Ashley Gray, Social Worker in Arvada, CO

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

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

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

New attachment relationships can be created through the support of therapy which help to heal old attachment wounds.

— Kassondra Wilson, Mental Health Counselor in , WA

The template for how we experience being in relationships is formed in our earliest interactions with primary caretakers. This template guides much of what we expect to happen in our current relationships. The good news is that this template can be gently explored and changed. With my support and direction, you can work in mindfulness to study the subtle urges to move toward or away from the people you care about and learn how to set appropriate boundaries and take appropriate emotional risks.

— Melissa Yeary, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor in Portland, OR

Attachment theory is a psychological, evolutionary and ethological theory concerning relationships between humans. The most important tenet is that young children need to develop a relationship with at least one primary caregiver for normal social and emotional development. The theory was formulated by psychiatrist and psychoanalyst John Bowlby.[1]

— Michele Yurgin, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Rainier, OR

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

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

Strong attachment = good mental health. My goal is to model a healthy relationship that can then be applied in the outside world including exploring and discovering emotions. I want my clients to have a genuine experience of their self and believe they are unique and lovable. Being heard = feeling validated.

— David Strah, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Los Angeles, CA

Attachemnt is the basis from which we form relationships

— Erin Callahan, Therapist in Silver Spring, MD

Draw upon attachment theory and polyvagal theory to conceptualize treatment plans for clients.

— Janel Morey-Sassano, Psychotherapist in O'Fallon, IL

I am a big believer in attachment theory and how it plays out in our relationships, in particular, romantic relationships. Using attachment theory and emotionally focused therapy, I am able to cut to the heart of the dynamics at play and see through the white noise so that each partner feels seen and heard and not bogged down in the details that don't matter. Couples therapy isn't what it used to be. Let me show you how.

— Ashley Evans, Licensed Professional Counselor in Dallas, TX

Attachment and authenticity are the yin and yang of the human experience. May of us have had to choose, not consciously, between attachment to our primary caregivers or authenticity to ourselves. Since attachment is survival, we will always choose this despite the pain of losing part of self. However, to do this we are often left without a sense of self, confidence, and wellbeing. Working together we will explore barrier to what you want most for yourself and reawaken to our authentic self.

— Kayle Evans, Psychotherapist in Austin, TX

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

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 looks at our earliest relationships as formative in how we relate to ourselves, others and the world. Understanding the context in which you learned to related helps us understand the patterns of relationship of the present day. Using this theoretical frame, we will return to story, addressing long-held hurts, hurts often held outside of daily awareness. And from this frame, we will gain greater clarity for what it is you are longing for.

— Andrew Fontana, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate in Seattle, WA