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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Attachment theory, in developmental psychology, is the theory that humans are born with a need to form a close emotional bond with a caregiver and that such a bond will develop during the first six months of a child’s life if the caregiver is appropriately responsive. The British psychologist John Bowlby developed the theory focused on the experience, expression, and regulation of emotions at both species (normative) and individual (person-specific) levels of analysis.

— David Yellen, Licensed Clinical Social Worker - Candidate in brooklyn, NY

The roots of attachment influence our relationships, self esteem, and give us a secure base from which we live. Understanding our own attachment and how it impacts us is a key focus of therapeutic work.

— Karl Thomas, Student Therapist in St. Paul, MN

We all need personal connection in our lives, and the way we engage with others is heavily influenced by how we grew up in our families of origin. If your early family life was dysfunctional, abusive, or neglectful, you will benefit from re-examining core beliefs and exploring ways to increase authenticity, intimacy and mutual satisfaction in relationships.

— Jess Gioia, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Ferndale, MI

Reflections of our early relationships with caregivers often show up in our adult relationships. We will explore attachment style as part of preparation for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). I learned Somatic and Attachment Focused (SAFE-EMDR) so I incorporate building healthy secure attachment throughout the therapy process. Our attachment styles are not doomed to be stuck in anxious, avoident, or a combination of the two!

— Laura Hicks, Licensed Professional Counselor in Lansing, MI

Attachment theory suggests that the relationships we had with our caretakers early in life create an attachment style which is then carried into all subsequent relationships throughout the lifespan. About half of the population has developed an insecure attachment style as a result of attachment wounds in their primary relationships. These wounds are then carried into relationships and prevent them from finding the security they desire.

— Kellita Thompson, Marriage & Family Therapist in Brentwood, TN

I work collaboratively with partners, families and individuals who want to foster connection and form deeper, more loving relationships. I also work with parents to identify their struggles with parenting (be it a one time issue or an on going parenting struggle) and develop a plan to support the entire family system.

— Gina DeLeo, Marriage and Family Therapist Associate in , OR

All people want to feel connected to and valued by others. Attachment therapy recognizes that we cannot heal in isolation and honors the profound difficulties that can arise when we feel disconnected from those we rely on for support. I completed a one-year internship in my graduate program focused on attachment-based therapy and use this theory as the bedrock for my work. Working from this lens, I work to build secure and authentic relationships with my clients so they can feel safe and valued.

— Molly Nestor Kaye, Marriage and Family Therapist Associate in , CA

We are wired for connection, and we develop a blueprint for how to be in relationshp based on our earliest relationships. Our attachment style describes how we show up in relationships, which can be secure, insecure, or a combination of both. Therapy can help you explore how to be more secure in your relationships in a way that allows for healthier connection with yourself and others.

— Cassidy Gaillard, Licensed Professional Counselor Associate in Roswell, GA

Our relationships are so important in shaping our lives. The more we understand about our attachment style and how to navigate our relationships, the more we equip ourselves to lead fulfilling lives.

— Zem Chance, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Eugene, OR

Attachment style is significant to every relationship and yours is not as solidified as you may think. It probably is a bit different with certain people and may have changed over time as well. I bring a deep wealth of holistic knowledge of attachment theory to all my work and it helps in the therapeutic relationship as well as your relationship with others.

— Elana Kirsch, Clinical Social Worker

Attachment theory focuses on understanding and improving the emotional bonds formed in early life, which influence current relationships and behavior. It helps clients recognize patterns stemming from insecure attachments, such as anxiety or avoidance. Therapists work to create a secure, supportive environment where clients can explore these patterns and develop healthier attachment styles. Techniques may include exploring past relationships, emotional regulation, and building trust, aim

— Maureen Malcolm, Licensed Professional Counselor in Arvada, CO

From a young age, all of us are taught ways of relating to others - these strategies are often messages or ways of relating that friends, family & community pass down. If the adults around us didn't know how to relate in healthy ways, we often carry some of that programming with us into adulthood. In our work together, we will explore this old programming and help you build a style of relating and communicating that feels authentic and true to you.

— Amelia Hodnett, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate in Seattle, WA

I read about attachment theory and this immediately changed the game for me. I routinely use this to help you understand and validate your patterns in relationships. We can explore early family dynamics and learn how these have shaped your adult behaviors. I also love incorporating Schema Therapy.

— Kate Sayers, Licensed Professional Counselor in Milwaukee, WI

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

An attachment-based approach to therapy looks at the connection between a client's early attachment experiences with primary caregivers and the client's ability to form healthy emotional and physical relationships as an adult. Attachment-based therapy aims to build a trusting, supportive relationship between the client and counselor that will be used as a blueprint for other relationships and to alleviate mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.

— Kristi Cash White, Licensed Professional Counselor in Portland, OR

Attachment therapy aims to help individuals who have issues with relationships stemming from childhood experiences such as neglect, abuse, or trauma. These experiences can affect a person's ability to form healthy and secure connections in adulthood, leading to problems like anxiety, depression, and difficulty in forming and maintaining close relationships. The goal is to help individuals develop a more secure attachment style, leading to better relationships and overall emotional well-being.

— Lauren Timkovich, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Denver, CO

Attachment theory/science helps us better understand how our early relationships and memories inform our relationships as adults.

— Kristin Marguerite Doidge, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Los Angeles, CA