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

 

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

I believe most of emotional/relational struggles are originated from original attachment that we experience in our childhood. I approach client’s attachment pain with kindness and gentleness and support clients to experience a “felt-sense” safety and acceptance in the therapeutic relationship. My passion is to foster/cultivate emotional resiliency, maturity, and growth in clients’ inner world.

— Michelle H. Kim, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Pasadena, CA
 

Our healthy relationships with ourselves and with others later in life begin with our relationships with those who have raised us or been in our lives since the very beginning. How we connect with our attachment figures, or caregivers, sets the tone for how we relate to others throughout our lives. Attachment impacts our thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and overall wellness. If there is an attachment wound, we must attend to it and let the healing begin, so we can live a most fulfilling life.

— Danielle Saporta, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Berkeley, CA

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
 

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

Therapist utilizes therapy customized to needs of client. If needed, attachment style of client may be addressed. Clients often receive deep healing when these issues are brought to light, acknowledged and cared for. For example, but not limited to, clients who often fear their partner will leave them, struggle to establish and maintain healthy boundaries or have trouble feeling like they can get through life on their own may be struggling from an attachment issue.

— Michelle Hughes-Leger, Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern in Palm Beach Gardens, FL
 

I like to think about attachment this way: the templates we use to shape our experience of the world are formed in childhood. If we were raised by caregivers who projected that everything is okay, that is the default way we tend to view life situations. If we were raised by caregivers who were in fear, rage, depression, then we tend to see the world as scary-unsafe-not okay. I love to work with people to develop a secure sense of attachment, even if their beginnings were scary-unsafe-not okay.

— Bob Fischer, Mental Health Counselor in Seattle, WA

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
 

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

I lean heavily on Attachment Theory. Attachment theory is great for understanding why you might pick the same (terrible) partner over and over, why you panic when your partner doesn’t text you back immediately, or why you push people away despite feeling lonely.

— Arianna Smith, Licensed Professional Counselor in Littleton, CO
 

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

— Meg Barry, Counselor in Durham, NC

Attachment theory has always felt fundamental to me: the idea that our early experiences with caregivers set our long-term patterns and expectations for many aspects of our lives just makes sense. In session I've often found that the dynamics my clients experience in their work, their relationships, and their general sense of the world can be traced back to something they learned as a child. Knowing that can unlock a deep sense of self-knowledge that sets the foundation for lasting growth.

— Duff Stoneson, Licensed Professional Counselor Intern in Austin, TX
 

Therapist utilizes therapy customized to needs of client. If needed, attachment style of client may be addressed. Clients often receive deep healing when these issues are brought to light, acknowledged and cared for. For example, but not limited to, clients who often fear their partner will leave them, struggle to establish and maintain healthy boundaries or have trouble feeling like they can get through life on their own may be struggling from an attachment issue.

— Michelle Hughes-Leger, Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern in Palm Beach Gardens, FL
 

I believe in attachment theory because I have seen again and again the impact of our relationships with people we bonded with growing up on our future relationships. We learned how to connect with others from our caregivers and this often repeats and if unhealthy, can cause issues in our adult relationships with others.

— Jodie Shea, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Huntington Beach, CA

Through my work with couples, I have been immersed in Attachment work. Our early childhood experiences provide the model for later relationships; Attachment Theory provides a way to help organize and use what we learn from exploring the messages we got early on about what is needed to feel close to an Important Other. I work with clients every day using these concepts.

— Annette Holloway PsyD, Clinical Psychologist in San Francisco, CA

Our original bonds with our parents or caregivers determine so much of who we are, how we relate to others and what we believe about ourselves. It's everything really, and if it goes unchecked then we don't get the opportunity to unfold who we truly are, to question negative beliefs that might be preventing us from embracing life.

— Natalia El-Sheikh, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Castro Valley, CA
 

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

Through attachment perspectives, I am able to explore how an individuals past relationships with primary caregivers are perhaps impacting their current way of relating to others/themselves/therapy. New attachment relationships can be created through the support of therapy which help to heal old attachment wounds.

— Kassondra Wilson, Mental Health Counselor in Tacoma, WA