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!

Need help finding the right therapist?
Find Your Match

Meet the specialists


My approach to psychotherapy is relationship-based, attachment focused, and compassionate. Research shows the most powerful aspect of the healing process is the relationship that develops between you and your therapist. My goal is for us to address your challenges through open and trusting dialogue. My therapy is humanistic and integrative.

— Amanda Mead, Psychologist

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

My career has been focused on understanding & working from an attachment-based perspective. My trainings, my research, & my readings are generally related to attachment (& trauma). It's challenging for me NOT to view the struggles that clients experience as being mostly relational & rooted in attachment in one way or another. As they say, "Before labeling yourself with depression, make sure you're not just surrounded by a**holes," (it's not quite so simple, but there's some truth to it).

— Jennifer Dolphin, Licensed Professional Counselor in Anchorage, AK

Attachment theory helps us untangle the complex web of early learning that can make engaging in fulfilling adult relationships difficult and painful. I hold special training in a method called Experiential Attachment, which naturally elicits the infant/caregiver attachment system, allowing for examination of early attachment wounding and engagement in a process of repair.

— Amanda Ball, Professional Counselor Associate in Portland, OR

Attachment theory believes the types of relationships we form with our caregivers in our first 18 months on earth set the stage for how we relate as adults. This approach addresses the ruptures and developmental trauma experienced with our family of origin. It helps facilitate healthier ways of relating in the present. The use of attachment theory is often used to help prevent and treat anxiety and relationship issues.

— Ali Kammerling, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in Denver, CO

Our early relationships give us a sense of whether or not we are safe and welcomed in the world. Whether or not we are worthy of being treated with kindness, love, and respect. Attachment-informed trauma therapy can help to repair the psychological wounds from childhood, providing relief from cycles of shame, blame, guilt, doubt, and emotional overwhelm. Outcomes of healing these early wounds can include improved health, relationships, and boundaries, and reduced anxiety, stress, and depression.

— Kim Torrence, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Rockville, MD

I provide Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), the gold standard treatment for child disruptive behaviors. PCIT was developed through UC Davis Children’s Hospital and has been shown by 40 years of research and 100’s of studies to effective for children as young as 12 months and as old as 10 years. A recent study has even shown PCIT to be more effective for disruptive behavior than stimulant medication.

— DC Hamilton, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Claremont, CA

The attachment work I do is deep and transformative and sometimes escapes words. I have received specialized Somatic training with Kathy Kain and Stephen J. Terrell which approaches attachment theory work from the bottom up versus the top down. This means bringing my attention to healing the early age physiology first before approaching the adult cognitive brain, which comes second. I also include consciousness and intention around my own attachment style when working on this deep level with clients.

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

I completed a post-grad program at Denver Family Institute that resulted in a certificate in Marriage/Couples and Family Therapy. During my 3.5 years at Denver Family Institute, I received instruction on a variety of attachment theories. I have worked with many clients over my 5 years as a therapist, using attachment theories to help them understand themselves and others by thoughtfully examining behaviors and reflecting on both past and present, significant relationships.

— Ashley Gray, Social Worker in Arvada, CO

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

Many of us have not received the love, comfort, and understanding that we need. This often occurred early in life, and that has set us up for pain in the ways we try to relate to others and get our needs met in relationship. You may have heard of the "anxious attachment style" or the "avoidant attachment style." My interest in working with you would be to create a safe place to be authentically you, no matter what. I do this by listening to you as deeply as I can, tending to you, being with you.

— Lisa Wenninger, Counselor in teletherapy only, CA

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

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.

— Laura McMaster, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Atlanta, GA

As a therapist, I use attachment based approaches to help clients understand the way they relate to others in their lives. This can help them give choice to resolve disabling conflicts or assist them in working to create peaceful and positive settlement of emotional struggles.

— Artur Lebiedzinski, Psychotherapist in New York, NY

Attachment theory understands emotional and social development through the lens of the parent-child connection in early childhood. The safety of this relationship has profound effects on the individual's growth across the lifespan. I have been trained to utilize this model to better understand how my clients, both children and adults, perceive their place in their relationships and how they understand their own identities.

— Cristina Shea, Psychotherapist in New York, NY

Attachment-Based Family works by rebuilding trust within the parent-child relationship—providing a solid foundation that promotes authentic connection and enhances teen mental health. This type of family counseling provides a clear path to achieving what both parents and children want most: closer, more meaningful relationships with one another. As a result, teens feel safe turning to their parents for support—and that leads to improvements in teen mental health and reductions in suicide risk.

— Newport Academy, Mental Health Counselor in Atlanta, GA

In the process of therapy, one's internal working models which are formed in childhood and their consequent influence on adult relationships are to be revisited. In my practice, I utilize attachment theory and archetypal psychology. The symbolic material, including dreams and transference interactions are considered important aspects of the in-depth therapeutic experience.

— Dr. Nadia Thalji, Psychotherapist in San Francisco, CA

Attachment theory is one of the main ways I work with clients. I believe our attachments to our caregiver significantly affects the way we view the world and relationships as an adult which can result in a secure or insecure attachment. As a therapist I help clients heal insecure attachments by providing a secure place for them to connect and grow they they never received as a result. The counseling relationship is one of the most important aspects in my work with each client.

— Victoria Hicks, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Atlanta, GA