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

Fundamentally, I am an attachment theorist. I have extensively studied Interpersonal Neurobiology, and frequently use IPNB approaches in treatment. Our ability to regulate stems directly from the co-regulation we experienced (or did not experience) in early childhood, and affects our regulation and relationships today. In sessions we explore this relationship toward optimal relationships--internally and with others.

— kaseja wilder, Counselor in Eugene, OR

The way we attached in our family of origin plays a big role in our current relationships. Feel like you either are too clingy or you tend to sabotage your relationships? The way you attached as a child is probably why.

— John Kuykendall, Counselor in Kansas City, MO

Attachment Theory helps to inform and understand our relationships through a frame and with context. Via attachment theory we can gain a more comprehensive image and understanding of how we relate and why, and in that recognize and then change relationship patterns.

— Jesse Kahn, Sex Therapist in new york, NY

I focus on how our capacity for healthy connections affects our overall health and happiness.

— Lorren Penner, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Campbell, CA

I work from an attachment theory perspective with clients to help us to understand what may have happened in the past to influence current relationships.

— Adriane Kruer, Clinical Psychologist in Los Angeles, CA

We are relational beings, motivated by a need to survive that was once dictated by our very own development. Every person has a story of how they met their survival needs for love and attention. This style becomes the main drive, thereby disconnecting us from our authentic selves and placing us in a stuck-ness or feeling of limitation. Through gaining an awareness for how we are wired towards fear, we can begin to rewire ourselves towards a feeling of freedom and expansion.

— Karly Meola, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Los Angeles, CA

Often I find that what underlies relationship difficulties are emotional injuries from the past that are "playing out" in unconscious ways. Our goal in therapy is to make the unconscious, conscious so you can gain clarity on how you are showing up in relationships, repeating relationship dynamics from the past, and overcome these with insight and intention. Gaining this awareness will give you a greater opportunity to not repeat old patterns.

— Tammy Berman, Counselor in Plantation, FL

Many of our core wounds are formed in relation to our primary caregivers growing up; how they were too much or not enough for us, or how they outright hut us. We act out of those wounds as adults without even knowing it. Attachment is especially relevant in couples counseling, which is the core of my practice, because our brain uses the same neural networks with our partner as it did with our primary caregivers growing up. Attachment theory is all about healing those old wounds.

— Jennifer Creson, Counselor in Seattle,

I have studied Attachment Theory in the guise of my adoption work. Many adopted children have struggled with making successful attachments to their adopted families and/or in subsequent relationships as they mature due to the break in their original attachment object, their birth mother. A child can also have attachment difficulties if the parent is not emotionally available, is abusive, mentally ill or an addict.

— Laurie Levine, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Herndon, VA

Understanding our attachment style is greatly helpful in seeing how we relate in the world, and what we can do to change behaviors that are no longer serving us.

— Risha Nathan, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in New York, NY

You deserve to feel safe and connected in the relationships that mean the most to you.

— Christina Holyoak, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Pleasant Grove, UT

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

The core of this modality is to help you identify your Attachment style and its challenges. Therefore, by learning the exact language for each Attachment style and specific corrective experiences you can heal early wounds. Secure attachment is the base of our future relationships, capacity for emotional regulation, and resilience through life.

— Isabel Kirk, Licensed Professional Counselor in Falls Church, VA

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

Attachment Theory is closely related to psychoanalytic theory, based in the research of Anna Freud and attachment theory greatly influences my approach to clients. I have seen the influence of secure, anxious or insecure attachment in childhood reflected in patient's relationships.

— Jasmine Zinser, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Fairfield, CT

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, Counselor in Portland, OR

Using the science of attachment research as the bedrock, I seek to learn more about the ways in which we have inevitably come to respond to others and the world due to the ways we related to caregivers while young. From there, I work with the patient to come to a secure attachment within themselves and with others.

— Jeremy Cooper, Licensed Professional Counselor in Richardson, 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

We work to identify attachment styles, attachment patterns and process a plan for healthy and interdependent relationships.

— Tanvi Patel, Licensed Professional Counselor in Houston, TX

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

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

So much of what we experience in our lives started between the age of 0-3. Who were our caregivers and what did we learn about the world through them?

— Marci Orr, Licensed Professional Counselor in Dallas, TX