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!

Meet the specialists

My dissertation study, completed in 2003, focused on assessing attachment in intercountry adoptees. From that study, I published a literature review on attachment, which can be found here: This study, along with my doctoral course work provided a solid foundation for understanding and exploring attachment theory. I have participated in panel discussions , other scholarly writing and regularly teach about attachment to MSW students.

— Kendra Roberson, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Brownsville, TX

I became a certified trainer in Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) through UC Davis in 2016. PCIT is a combination of attachment and behavior therapy and is an evidenced based practice that improves the attachment between child and parent. Helping the child feel safe and secure in their relationship with their parent will help shape that child's future. I have helped numerous families graduate from PCIT and they report astounding positive changes to their relationship.

— April Weir, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Los Angeles, CA

I incorporate mindfulness-based methods of Hakomi, Recreation of Self (RC-S), attachment work, and trauma resourcing. I have extensive training learning these modalities through ongoing practice and supervision, through previous internship experience, and training with Mindful Experiential Therapy Approaches (M.E.T.A.).

— Stuart Malkin, Counselor in Portland, OR

Attachment theory is a psychological model that attempts to describe the dynamics of long-term and short-term interpersonal relationships between humans. It addresses how human beings respond within relationships when hurt, separated from loved ones, or perceiving a threat. In other words, attachment theory explains how the connection between a parent and a child in early childhood influences subsequent development in a teenagers and adults.

— Filippo M. Forni, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Los Angeles, CA

Our earliest relational experiences are the blueprint to our current interpersonal interactions. Examining attachment styles can help improve communication and boundary setting.

— Nicole Prophet, Licensed Professional Counselor Intern in Portland, OR

Our early interactions have shaped our perception of how safe the world is, how to signal for care and what caregivers can provide when you do. As adults, these attachment systems stay with us and shape how we explore and experience intimate partners, friendships, employers, etc. Gained secure attahment is often a goal from my clients, but I can also help us understand that within your attachment style (anxious-avoidant) you can reshape how you exist in relationships.

— Kayla Lajoie, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Ann Arbor, MI

This is an important piece of the way we experience relationships.

— Cameron Small, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in Minneapolis, MN

As a foundation for human development, attachment theory is a primary foundation of my work with kids & families. I've studied in college & graduate school, and continue with professional development in this area, building each new tool and approach on this bedrock. My certification in Therapy with Adoptive & Foster Families focused on attachment, as well as professional conferences I still attend. The parent-child approaches I use emphasize this theory.

— MereAnn Reid, Licensed Professional Counselor Intern 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. Our earliest bonds built as children have a significant impact on our patterns in adult relationships. Attachment wounds, or unmet emotional needs, create a push or pull in relationships. When we understand our attachment, we are better able to engage in changing behavior.

— Heather LaBouy, Clinical Psychologist in Seattle, WA

Working with attachment theory means I pay close attention to how a person shows up in relationships which includes strangers.

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

I have advanced training in this model, because it strongly informs grief therapy. Often, complicated grief is related to insecure developmental attachments.

— Pamela Kuras, Counselor in Benson, NC

I have been studying attachment theory since 2005. In graduate school, I learned what anxious/preoccupied attachment was, and my practice has been designed to serve people with that attachment style. It goes by different names: people-pleasing, codependency, anxious attachment. Attachment theory, in a nutshell, is this: people heal through relationships. If we don't have supportive and stable relationships in early life, we struggle to feel worthy, loveable, and safe later on. But, early hardship does not necessarily spell disaster. People can heal throughout the lifespan from all kinds of trauma. Having a compassionate, safe companion for the grieving and sorting through can make all the difference. I have participated in my own therapy-- probably 9-10 years' worth by now. I know the power of how safe relationships transform us-- and that is what attachment theory is all about.

— Ann Stoneson, Licensed Professional Counselor in Austin, TX

Jennifer has been using attachment theory to help parents with difficulties in their relationship with their children for the past 8 years and uses it with the children she engages with personally. Helping parents realize that keeping the relationship ultimately in mind can help temper their emotions and ultimately create a better situation by allowing them to handle struggles with a calmer mind and creative choices to enable the child to make positive choices that work for all involved.

— Jennifer Magbanua, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Orlando, FL

Attachment Theory says that each child needs safe relationships from which to explore themselves and the world around them. Ideally, a child should have a secure, safe, and healthy relationship with primary caregivers such as Mom and Dad. How a child feels about himself in childhood is how he also grows up to feel about himself. These internal beliefs (or schemas) continue to help or hinder mental health in adulthood.

— Brittney Doll, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Wichita, KS

Attachment theory is a psychological model attempting to describe the dynamics of long-term and short-term interpersonal relationships between humans. "Attachment theory is not formulated as a general theory of relationships; it addresses only a specific facet": how human beings respond in relationships when hurt, separated from loved ones, or perceiving a threat.

— Susie Ibrahim, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Tustin, CA

I have and continue to participate in graduate education and professional development that focuses on attachment and attachment and attachment related trauma. I continue to participate in graduate classes through Portland State University\'s Trauma Informed Services and Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB) programs and participate in an advanced study group focusing on trauma, attachment, and IPNB.

— Carly Henderson, Licensed Professional Counselor in Portland, OR

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, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Oakland, CA

Attachment is a fancy therapy-word for important relationships. Our earliest relationships with our primary caregivers become the foundation for how we relate to others throughout our lives. But attachment is fluid, so later relationships still affect us such as with friends or mentors. If there were wounds in early relationships, then our self-esteem, romantic/platonic relationships can also be impacted later. I will help you heal old wounds and foster new, healthy relationships.

— Rebecca Doppelt, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Los Angeles, CA

I am formally trained in Attachment informed therapy: A Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy® (PACT), developed by Dr. Stan Tatkin, is a fusion of attachment theory, developmental neuroscience, and arousal regulation. PACT has a reputation for effectively treating the most challenging couples.

— Sophia O'Connor, Sex Therapist in Denver, CO