Attachment Theory

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22 March 2016

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In this essay I have selected 3 different theories, which will focus on human growth development theories, I will demonstrate my understanding of each theory and explain the psychological disturbances which are linked to each one and demonstrate how these theory can be off use to the counsellor in therapy.

John Bowbly (1969) and Mary Ainsworths (1974) known, as the mother and father of attachment theory both became key figures in contributing to child development, with their ideas of personality development, together they changed the views of childcare practice and how mothers, reared their children, his views greatly influenced society, by identifying that a child first relationship was very important as this would effect them for the rest of their lives. Bowlby (1969) and Ainsworth (19740 described “Attachment as a deep, and enduring bond that connects one person to another across time and space.” (Ainsworth, 1976: Bowbly, 1969),

The development of attachment over the last 50 years has also benefited practitioners , nurses parents as it has given them a useful insight into interpersonal relationships and the understanding that pass negative experiences with care givers is damaging to a childens emotional and psychological we’ll being.

Attachment theory has been proven to be very effective method used in psychotherapy because it is a very useful tool for counsellors, as it helps the counsellor to focus on relevant information and tells them what to look for descriptions of characteristics and can predict certain behaviour in certain settings, This theory can also help to identify problems and it can help to assist clients in effective modification of their behaviour , thoughts, how you react emotionally to things and events and interpersonal relations as it serves as a foundation for understanding the development of ineffective coping strategies and the underlying dynamics of the person emotional difficulties,

Bowbly,(1907) was the first psychologist to draw on ethology concepts from animals and applied the same principle to humans ,The main focus of his work was based on the focus of attachment, and the effects of separation and loss, he proposed that all babies were born with a inborn instinct to connect with their parents and maintain close proximity to enhance survival to ensure reproduction.

based on extensive research Bowblys (1969) suggested that if human failed to attached to their care give between the ages of 6-2 years they would not develop emotionally or psychology healthy whilst they continued to grow which would effect them later on in life, Bowbly (1969),also stated to make human development possible the infant and the young child should experienced a warm intimate and continues with their parental figure , he posed that a mother should be able to be in tune with their childs needs and respond apprioaraly as failure to do, could have devasting effect later for the child” (bowlby 1951 p.13( david wallen)

Bowbly(1969) attachment theoy implies that it is the way in which the child was handled by their primary care giver that helps to form the child personality, he proposed that this is how the child develops their internal working model, which can be positive or negative which helps then to relate to other in the world as they grow older. Bowlby 1969) described these attachment behaviours, as a secure attachment, insecure attachment and disorganised attachment , he stated that children generally displayed protest, despair or detachment when separated from their parents,

Mary Ainsworth (1997), a psychologist, that was a student of Bowlbys (1969), later expanded and tested his idea, whereby she took part in her own empirical study called the strange situation, whereby she proved Bowlbys(1974) attachment theory correct alongside some new concepts of her own, after carrying out her study in America and Uganda on babies from 12-18mths that were separated from their mothers for 3 minutes, based on her findings, she proposed that there was four different types of attachment behaviour that the infant displayed their fore classified four different categories, (expand) secure attachment , anxious -avoidant and anxious ambivalent, and disorganised attachment.

Ainsworth (1974) findings revealed that children that fell into the secure attachment category were raised by sensitive mothers that responded promptly to their child needs, ” “the mothers day in day out responseness had given them faith in her as a protector” (ainsworth1974) p.g 55 concepts and application). mothers that fell into the avoidant category were reported to be inhibited in expressing or showing any comfort or emotions to their children, their fore is seen as not ready and available for the child, mothers that fall in the ambulant category were described as unpredictable and occasionally available, and the child as either passive or a result of parenting. and finally a mother from the disorganised attachment, main prosed that infant disorganisation is the outcome not only of interaction with parents whose anger and abuse is self evidently frightened (main&hesse 1912)

This theory can help the counsellor to become aware of all the different types of anxieties and disorders that their clients may be facing theory it serves as a map, which offers insights into different types of relationships , effective coping strategies and the underlying dynamics of the persons emotional difficulties , it also helps the counsellor to understand the strategies that many individuals use to get their unmet needs met which sometimes result in them becoming more distressed than before conclusion Symond Freud, John Bowbly and erik Erikson all belonged to the same school of thoughts and studied human growth and development pschology for many years and have all contributed different ideas in regards to child development.

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"Attachment Theory" StudyScroll, 22 March 2016,

StudyScroll. (2016). Attachment Theory [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 4 June, 2023]

"Attachment Theory" StudyScroll, Mar 22, 2016. Accessed Jun 4, 2023.

"Attachment Theory" StudyScroll, Mar 22, 2016.

"Attachment Theory" StudyScroll, 22-Mar-2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 4-Jun-2023]

StudyScroll. (2016). Attachment Theory. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 4-Jun-2023]

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