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

Early attachment experiences with our parents shape the adults that we become. The goals of attachment-based therapy are to address the limiting effects of negative early attachment experiences & strengthen the capacity for secure relationships & adaptive actions in the world. By creating a secure trusting relationship with my clients, they are then able to express the types of communications, emotions, perceptions, & behaviors missing in their childhood.

— Robyn Shapiro, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in , CA

Our relationship with our selves and others begins with our experience of attachment to our caregivers. Attachment is a huge influential part of our behaviors in relationship with everyone in our lives- our partners, children, parents, families, and friends.

— Sprout Therapy PDX, Licensed Professional Counselor in Portland, OR

Over the past several years, I have found that exploring the theory of Attachment with some of my clients can help us understand the relational dynamics through our ongoing relationships such as; family, life-long friends, and thier romantic relationships, to name a few. Attachment theory can be very insightful, as it helps us see how we relate to the world and how we perceive other people in our lives.

— Uriah Cty M.A., LMFT # 121606, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Los Angeles, CA

I am a big believer in attachment theory and how it plays out in our relationships, in particular, romantic relationships. Using attachment theory and emotionally focused therapy, I am able to cut to the heart of the dynamics at play and see through the white noise so that each partner feels seen and heard and not bogged down in the details that don't matter. Couples therapy isn't what it used to be. Let me show you how.

— Ashley Evans, Licensed Professional Counselor Associate in Dallas, TX

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

Attachment Theory is at the heart of interpersonal functioning. In my three years of psychotherapeutic practice, I have implemented this theory in conceptualizing and planning treatment for clients.

— Madeline Turner, Counselor in Austin, TX

I love Attachment Theory! It is almost always a part of my work with any person, couple or family. I believe that we feel and function our best when we have secure relationships with the people and institutions around us. When we don’t feel secure, life is harder. I work to identify how to have healthy, secure attachments and work on grieving when that isn’t possible.

— Sarah Bonilla, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Redlands, CA

I have trained in Diane Poole Heller's attachment model and therapy. I am also extensively training in Internal Family Systems and Ego States Therapy. Both are holistic and powerful therapies based on the latest science that support the multiplicity and complexity of the brain and the psyche. We all have parts of self, or states of consciousness, with roles that help us function in society and that protect us defensively. However, when we feel overwhelmed these parts become more extreme, and when trauma history was repetitive, parts feel more and more separate from our sense of self. IFS and Ego States therapy are gentle approaches that heal us from the inside out, accessing the client's inner world and bringing balance and deep healing. Finding your true sense of self and leading from within. ​

— Stacy Ruse (Founder), Licensed Professional Counselor in Longmont, CO

I believe our early relationships inform how we interact with each other today. Understanding your attachment style is helpful in understanding how you exist in relation to others.

— Jules Allison, Licensed Professional Counselor Intern in Portland, OR

Ideally, we would all grow up in a delightfully safe and warm environment, with caregivers perfectly attuned to our every need and supporting us every step of the way. Most of us do not experience this perfection, and that is totally ok. Without placing blame on your caregivers, we will identify the attachment experiences that were lacking for you and heal what was lost. Attachment therapy can help deepen your relationships, give you stronger emotional regulation skills, and spark your inner joy

— Laura Stephan, Psychologist in Minneapolis, MN

My work with clients is heavily informed by the perspective that one of our strongest survival drives is to attach to a primary caregiver. Our relationship to our earliest caregiver leaves an imprint in terms of the adaptive coping responses we employ later in life, which impact our adult relationships in myriad ways.

— Sophia Boissevain, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in San Francisco, CA

Our early attachments have profound impacts on us. The therapeutic relationship offers a unique opportunity for repair.

— Bronwyn Shiffer, Clinical Social Worker in Madison, WI

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

As an attachment therapist, I am well versed in the needs of babies and children and the ways these create trauma and future problems as adults. If our parents did not teach our brains how to regulate our emotions, we do not magically gain these skills later, and often experience trauma or anxiety as a result. In couples & parenting work I help couples/parents recognize and unlearn the attachment styles they learned as children showing up in their relationship to be effective partners & parents.

— Linnea Logas, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Minneapolis, MN

Attachemnt is the basis from which we form relationships

— Erin Callahan, Therapist in Silver Spring, MD

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