Attachment theory and its uses in child psychotherapy

Authored by: Graham Music

The Routledge Handbook of Attachment: Implications and Interventions

Print publication date:  June  2014
Online publication date:  June  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415706117
eBook ISBN: 9781315764283
Adobe ISBN: 9781317653820


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In this chapter I explore some ways in which attachment theory can inform therapeutic work with children. Attachment theory is a hugely influential body of extremely rigorous research findings, maybe the most important set of findings in developmental psychology, and as a body of theory it can be extremely useful when thinking about therapeutic work. However, psychotherapy and attachment research are also separate domains of activity. While I think that we cannot do psychotherapy these days without an understanding of attachment, psychotherapy will always rely on a huge range of other ideas to inform clinical technique, while the main preoccupations of attachment researchers have been to understand developmental processes and not clinical change. In the main body of the chapter I will give several brief case vignettes to try to tease out some of the ways in which attachment theory can be useful in psychotherapy with children. Before this, I will mention some of the background to the interface between child psychotherapy and attachment theory.

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