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


Research shows that our early experiences with caregivers impact our relationship styles throughout our lives. When our basic needs are met with love and predictability, we learn to form secure relationships. When our needs are not met in this way, we might protect ourselves by becoming withdrawn and distant, or we may become chronically preoccupied with maintaining closeness. By understanding our attachment styles, we can work towards creating secure, enriching connections in our lives.

— Kendra Kirsonis, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Seattle, WA

Attachment is a deep and enduring emotional bond that connects one person to another across time and space. Together we will explore your current and past attachments and see how they inform how you navigate conflict, care, and connection.

— John Lembo, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Seattle, WA

Our early development contributes significantly to our ability to form healthy, safe, and productive relationships with family, partners, children, friends, and co-workers. Understanding your attachment style can contribute to greater understanding of yourself and others. Becoming aware of our patterns enables us to change and adapt to create healthier, happier, and more fulfilling relationships.

— Kimberly Watts Hoggatt, Licensed Professional Counselor in San Antonio, TX

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

I use Attachment Theory to help clients understand why they may experience challenges i primary relationships.

— Pauline Everette, Therapist in Detroit, MI

In my graduate studies, I chose to focus on attachment theory because of its widespread validity across different cultures and its usefulness to both explain human suffering and provide a path for healing. I continue to read up on new developments and receive supervision from an expert in the field.

— Jennifer Newbloom, Counselor in Seattle, WA

Every parent wants their child to develop a secure and healthy attachment to their parents or trusted care providers. A secure attachment is one where the baby/child has a reliable, predictable and safe relationship with its parents and is more likely to have a positive trajectory in life. When a parent is faced with difficulties such as depression, anxiety, single parenting, personal trauma, a fussy baby, etc., there is a risk to the attachment bond. Seek help if you are concerned.

— Cara Fairfax, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in San Diego, CA

Use an attachment based approach to therapy based on my EMDR training in Attachment work.

— Meg Barry, Counselor in Durham, NC

I am well versed in attachment theory and practice, which combines foundational psychoanalytic theory with cutting edge neuroscience research to help us humans--- as the connected, social creatures we are--- heal from the ways we have been hurt by others in relationship. What this means in the therapy room is that I will at times privilege and tend to our relationship, in service of your healing and growth.

— Katy Bullick, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Oakland, CA

Attachment theory informs my work at a therapist in that I see the importance of the therapeutic relationship as one that feels attentive, responsive and attuned. A rigid attachment approach can feel mother-blaming, but holding the framework in mind can help us understand patterns and needs in relationships, both past and current.

— Eleanor Wohlfeiler, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Oakland, CA

Attachment theory tells us that, as social creatures, our primary need is for an emotional bond with an attachment figure which allows for growth while offering the shelter of a secure base. In therapy, I help clients understand their attachment style and needs, and how to recover from attachment wounds in order to build strong, fulfilling attachments with friends, family, and loved ones.

— Olivia Pryor, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Seattle, WA

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

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

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

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

This is the premise of my work with trauma, infidelity, and marriage. It shapes out understanding of reactivity, dependency, and individuality in relationships

— Maya Foster, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Lanham, MD