Attachment Theory

By Ofer Zur, Ph.D.

Given the impact attachment can have across the lifespan, knowledge about attachment theory can be of particular value. Early attachments to caregivers can affect many relationships encountered throughout the lifetime. Attachment influences stress regulation and emotion management, and even the impacts that the process has on the human form. Attachment organization has been associated with protective resilience on one end, with secure organized attachment patterns, and a vulnerability to psychopathology, infant insecurity and disorganization on the other end.

Regardless of the issues a client presents with, understanding and addressing the client’s attachment patterns can be a helpful element in the therapy process. Therapists, who are versed in attachment theory can utilize knowledge of attachment theory to predict or make sense how client’s might use the therapeutic relationship as well as how the client’s issues might play out with significant others in their lives. Disorganized attachment has been associated with dissociation and antisocial personality disorder later in life. Thus, according to this approach, there is great value in utilizing the therapeutic relationship to heal unhealthy attachment patterns before they turn into more serious problems. A healthy attachment can be at the core of emotional and physical well-being.

See our course on the increasingly popular topic of attachment:

Attachment Theory:Introduction to Infant Attachment (6 CE Credit Hours)
By Dr. Leah Robbins

This course will teach the participant to

  • Summarize Attachment Theory
  • Describe measures used to assess infant attachment
  • Describe patterns of attachment
  • List the DSM criteria for making the diagnosis of Reactive attachment disorder
  • Report on the relationship between trauma and attachment
  • Review the results of a study on Disorganized Attachment in military families



Did you know?

  • Patterns of attachment developed in the first year of life can impact future mental health throughout the lifespan?
  • It is never too late to repair attachment issues, even in adulthood.
  • Trauma and Disorganized Attachment create changes in the developing infant’s brain?
  • Behavioral characteristics of Disorganized Attachment and Dissociation can manifest in infancy?
  • There is a connection between attachment disorganization, cortisol levels and the ability to regulate stress?
  • In some cases a mother’s mental health and trauma history can predict disorganized attachment?
  • A mother’s affective communication can relate to infant attachment?
  • A mother’s vulnerabilities to mental health issues can be increased by having a husband deployed to war?
  • The rate of Secure/Insecure/Disorganized attachments has been shown to differ for military families with fathers deployed to war?
  • Daycare can be both beneficial and harmful, and children in daycare can still develop a secure attachment.
  • Caregivers don’t always need to be responsive, reliable, understanding and patient to ensure a secure attachment as long as they are most of the time?
  • The key emotion underlying attachment is joy not anxiety?
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