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Using attachment theory as a lens to understand the role of an adult educator.

Quinn, Siobhan (2012) Using attachment theory as a lens to understand the role of an adult educator. Masters thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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The attachment theory created by John Bowlby has had a lasting impact on our understanding of child development and more recently on adult development. The primary aim of this dissertation is to show how attachment theory can be used as a tool to inform educators about teaching and learning. There is an abundance of literature on attachment from infancy to adulthood, incorporating all forms of relationships. However, there is little research carried out on attachment and the implications for adult teaching and learning. This thesis outlines the key tenets of Bowlby’s theory, while drawing on the recent research studies of leading theorists, to lay the foundations for the study. Concepts such as the attachment behavioural system, secure and insecure attachment styles, internal working models and the strange situation are discussed. The study also explores how adult learners and educators are influenced by their own attachment styles and internal working models and how this impacts on the teacher-student relationship. The paper also looks at the implications for both the learner and educator when handling new situations and new knowledge. In addition, the concept of educational biography and narrative is explored as a means of altering or transforming an individual’s internal working models and facilitating the creation of new knowledge. A qualitative approach was used in the study. Three participants work in the area of counselling and adult education. The fourth participant is a project co-ordinator and adult educator with a children’s charity advocacy organisation. The participants were invited to narrate their stories of their attachment experiences from childhood to v adulthood, which aimed to offer a potentially developmental and reflective space for each participant in revisiting their lived attachment histories. Stories were gathered through the interviews to gain insight into how these experiences play out in the educator-student relationship. The participants’ stories were presented in the form of four core narratives. The narratives and findings were then further analysed and significant themes emerged in the stories told. The findings from this study show that the attachment paradigm offers definite value and useful insights for educators and facilitators of adult teaching and learning.

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Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Keywords: M.Ed. in Adult and Community Education; M.Ed.; attachment theory; adult educator; educator; teacher;
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Item ID: 9656
Depositing User: IR eTheses
Date Deposited: 05 Jul 2018 11:31
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This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available
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Attachment Theory: A Barrier for Indigenous Children Involved with Child Protection

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Background: Attachment theory is an established theoretical understanding of the intimate relationships between parental figures and children. The theory frames the ways in which a child can be supported to develop within a secure base that prepares them for adulthood, including entering into and sustaining intimate relationships. The theory, built on the work of John Bowlby following World War II, has extensive literature supporting its application across multiple cultures and nations, although its roots are heavily tied to Eurocentric familial understandings. However, the theory has also been heavily criticized as not being appropriate for child intervention decision-making. Further, its application to Indigenous caregiving systems is also under question. Yet courts rely heavily on applying the theory to questions of sustaining Indigenous children in non-Indigenous care when return to biological parents is deemed impossible. Methods: This article draws upon the consistent arguments used in leading Canadian child welfare legal decisions and case examples to show how Attachment Theory is applied relative to Indigenous children and families. Results: Attachment Theory drawing upon Eurocentric framing, and as applied in Canadian child protection systems, as seen in precedent court decisions, is given priority over living in culture. This occurs even though the research reviewed has shown that the traditional dyadic version of the theory is not valid for Indigenous peoples. Conclusions: While all children will attach to a caregiver or caregiving system, such as kinship or community, leading legal decisions in Canada tend to rely on Eurocentric versions of the theory, which is contrary to the best interests of Indigenous children. Child protection needs to reconsider how attachment can be used from appropriate cultural lenses that involve the communal or extended caregiving systems common to many Canadian Indigenous communities. Child protection should also recognize that there is not a pan-Indigenous definition of attachment and child-rearing, so efforts to build working relationships with various Indigenous communities will be needed to accomplish culturally informed caregiving plans. In addition, continued advocacy in Canada is needed to have child protection decision-making conducted by the Indigenous communities, as opposed to Eurocentric provincial or territorial agencies.

1. Introduction

In this paper, we examine the place of Attachment Theory as a significant framework that is used to keep Indigenous children separated from their culture, community, and kinship systems in Canada. This occurs as a result of the over-surveillance of Indigenous children, higher rates of removal from family and culture, and legal decisions that act to privilege Attachment Theory over cultural integration. We also explore how this pattern affects children, sustains inter-generational trauma (IGT), and possible pathways to address these issues.

In accordance with the goals of reconciliation in Canada from the period of Colonialism [ 1 ], it is important for researchers to socially locate themselves relative to Indigenous peoples and the legacy of colonization.

Peter Choate is a professor of social work at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Canada. He is from a white settler family system. He grew up on the traditional lands of the Musqueum, Tsel’ Waututh, and Squamish peoples.

Christina Tortorelli is an assistant professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Canada. She is the great-granddaughter of white settler families. She has lived most of her life in Calgary, which exists in Treaty 7 territory on the traditional lands of the Blackfoot peoples.

Both authors today live, work, and play on the ancient and storied places within the hereditary lands of the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot), Îyârhe Nakoda, Tsuut’ina, and Métis Nations. It is a land steeped in ceremony and history that, until recently, was used and occupied exclusively by peoples indigenous to this place. We speak from the place of the colonizers of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

2. Attachment Theory

Attachment Theory finds its roots in the works of John Bowlby. His early work was based upon his examination of children whom he characterized as having lost the bond with their primary caregiver [ 2 ]. He perceived that the relationship between mother and child was profoundly important. In his 1940 work, Bowlby observed that small children should never be subjected to complete or even prolonged separation from their mother [ 3 ]. The thought is that the child needs this attachment for reasons of survival. The social environment offered by the mother was seen as the best way of meeting that need [ 4 ]. The value of the attachment is that the child learns how the world works, establishing a mental image known as the internal working model [ 5 ]. In this, the child has a representation of how the self fits into others with whom the child will relate over a lifetime. This working model is bidirectional in that the child comes to understand how others are perceived, but also how the self is perceived by others [ 6 ]. It is through this that the child can extend from the primary relationship with the mother into other relationships, hopefully reinforcing the experiences with the primary relationship.

While developing an understanding of attachment, Bowlby was heavily influenced by psychoanalytic thought, including the works of Anna Freud and Melanie Klein [ 7 ]. After WWII, Bowlby joined the Tavistock Clinic in London, which would be his home for many years thereafter. It was here that he connected with James Robertson, a social worker with whom he developed the 1952 film A Two-Year-Old goes to Hospital . The film highlighted the intense separation grief when the child did not have access to her mother. This built upon his earlier work The Forty-Four Thieves [ 2 ], which consisted of a sample of children referred to a child-guidance clinic. He concluded that “prolonged separation of a child from their mother (or mother-figure) in the early years leads to his becoming a persistent thief and an Affectionless Character (p. 49). His work would become further extended while working with Mary Ainsworth.

In her 1982 paper, Ainsworth [ 8 ] described the notion of attachment as a foundation that arose from her reading the work of Konrad Lorenz and Nikolaas Tinbergen. Ainsworth began to develop the notion of the secure base as the successful way in which children develop connections, allowing them to predict safety in relationships [ 7 ]. Holmes described Bowlby as concluding that maternal deprivation, particularly if the child is then raised institutionally, will have long-term, serious impacts on the physical, intellectual, social, and emotional development [ 7 ] (p. 27), which will lead to an insecure attachment. He believed that the damage that would be caused by removal from maternal care was such that it should be avoided whenever possible.

Mary Ainsworth and Mary Main would extend Bowlby’s work by establishing four patterns of attachment, secure, avoidant, resistant, and disorganized. Attachment styles are linked to the working models of the self and represent the ways in which children exposed to healthy and unhealthy early relationships later come to experience intimate relationships. Children with secure bases tend to be able to shift relationships using both the internal working model and the attachment style [ 9 ]. Main et al. [ 10 ] raised a series of misconceptions that are unsupported by Attachment Theory. Rosabel-Coto et al. [ 11 ] cited three in particular that are relevant to this work:

  • An adult needs to have been present from the infant’s birth in order for an infant to form a secure attachment to that adult;
  • The window of opportunity for the formation of a secure attachment endured only throughout the first three years of life;
  • The amount of time spent with a child is the most important element in forming an enduring attachment relationship (p. 338).

Attachment Theory suggests that the child uses the internal working model of how relationships work to expand into other relationships, expecting that they will work in essentially the same way as the primary relationships. It takes into consideration how others are meant to be available to a child and that the child is worthy of care and attention that is supportive. This then leads to a framework of how the child can anticipate the functioning of relationships external to the family [ 12 , 13 , 14 , 15 , 16 ]. We are not aware of any literature that states that this internal working model must develop solely within dyadic relationships.

As Keller and Chaudhary [ 17 ] outlined, Attachment Theory became based upon family life and relationship dynamics that were circumscribed in specific cultures (p. 109) which were those, primarily Eurocentric, where the mother was considered central. Thus, there was a monotropy in attachment theory that built upon the notion of the primary foundational relationship noted above. This was a time when the nuclear family of two married parents in a heterosexual relationship, raising their biological children, was viewed as the ideal structure from which healthy attachment would develop. Attachment Theory frames family from a normative nuclear structure. This lends to an interpretation that the child is fully reliant upon that figure for safety, survival, and the elimination or management of risks in the child’s world [ 4 ]. However, in collectivistic or communal environments, such an argument cannot be sustained. Kinship and other community carers play a vital role in raising the child, which runs counter to the Eurocentric notion that it is only the nuclear family that can meet the secure base needs of the child [ 18 , 19 ]. Therefore, the child can develop a secure base through a system of caregivers, rather than through a dyadic mother–child formula. However, much of the literature is not based on cross-cultural attachment patterns that are not based upon the dyadic model [ 4 ]. This may partially be the result of the failure of attachment research and Eurocentric professions to develop and apply assessment approaches rooted in a variety of diverse cultural expressions of parenting [ 17 ]. Kenkel, Perkeybile, and Carter [ 20 ] brought forth the notion of alloparenting, which means that successful care can be provided by those other than biological parents, which can include grandmothers, uncles and aunts, older siblings, fathers, as well as kinship who are communally, rather than biologically, linked to the child. This means that children can experience nurturing care from several people who share the task of raising a child as normative.

This is not to say that children in various cultures do not experience attachment, but that attachment is experienced differently across cultures with a variety of child-rearing models. Keller and Choudhary [ 17 ] described five elements of attachment that can be thought of as common across environments:

  • Universality in that children will become attached to one or more caregivers;
  • Secure attachment is normative, but appears differently across cultures;
  • Attachment relies upon sensitive and responsive parenting by caregivers;
  • Child-rearing has no common standard, but varies across cultures; with sensitivity and responsiveness meaning quite different things in distinct cultural contexts;
  • Competence in parenting may look different, and successful parenting outcomes are also different across cultures (pp. 134–135).

There are pluralistic approaches to successful parenting [ 21 ]. Attention is also needed on myths that continue to lead to harmful understandings of Attachment Theory, which include an adult needing to be present from an infant’s birth for an infant or child to develop a secure relationship with a new figure [ 11 ]. This is quite important as it then leads to a focus on how new people might be introduced to a child to develop a secure relationship as opposed to the notion that it cannot be done. This has implications for foster care. If the transfer of security was not possible, then foster care would be a failure, and so would returning a child to familial or kinship care.

3. Indigenous Children in Care

In Canada, Indigenous children are more likely to be in care as opposed to other populations. The 2016 Census indicated that Indigenous children under the age of 14 were 7.7 of the population group, but represented 52.2% of children in care [ 22 ]. Many of these children are residing in permanent care outside of their culture. This is related to the colonization of Indigenous peoples in Canada across generations. Placement decisions have historically relied upon providing the best interests as understood from a Eurocentric perspective of family and the raising of a child. To reconsider the question of long-term placements of Indigenous children, consideration must be given to the historical place of Indigenous children. Application within the courts will be considered later in this paper.

To give context, there are more than 630 First Nations communities in Canada, with 50 different identified nations and languages. There are also Metis nations and Innuit peoples in Canada [ 23 ]. Thus, there is no pan-Indigenous identity, nor a pan-Indigenous method of parenting.

Indigenous peoples were subjected to a variety of policies that impacted parenting practices within nations and communities. These include the Indian Residential Schools (IRS), which operated from 1876 to 1996 and had mandatory attendance from 1894 to 1947. The sexual, emotional, and physical abuses in IRS were extensive and are now well documented [ 1 ]. In addition, an unknown number of children died in these schools. Currently, unmarked graves are being identified at IRS sites, with an estimated 3213 children having died, although this is a conservative estimate. Many children who were quite ill were sent home and died there. Thus, they are not included in the estimate [ 24 ]. Hamilton also noted that Dr. Peter Bryce, the chief medical health officer of Canada in the early 1900’s, estimated the death rate related to the IRS to be 8000 per 100,000, while that in the general population overall in that period was 430 per 100,000 (p. 4). The United States has identified similar concerns with the Federal Indian Boarding Schools [ 25 ].

Starting in 1951 after amending the Indian Act [ 26 ], Canada gave responsibility for all Indigenous child protection to provincial governments. Following this, the period of overrepresentation (and over-surveillance) of Indigenous children in care began. The overlap saw Indigenous children apprehended and being put into IRS, followed by a gradual shift to foster care. As this trend continued, the Sixties Scoop (although referred to as the Sixties Scoop, the removal of Indigenous children to child protection care actually began in 1951, although it gained very significant momentum in the 1960s. Children were removed from parental care based upon Eurocentric standards of parenting. However, the removal was strongly connected with Canada’s objective to assimilate Indigenous people into western culture. This practice persisted into the 1980s, with an estimated total of 20,000 children impacted. This has led to the continued overrepresentation of Indigenous children in care [ 1 ]) occurred which saw the large-scale removal of Indigenous children, resulting in the placement and adoption of children into non-Indigenous homes. This overrepresentation trend continues without abatement. This historical trend that is still occurring can also be framed as colonially based laws, beliefs, policies, and practices resulting in the over-involvement of the state in the lives of Indigenous people so as to affirm the sustained superiority of colonial society and its beliefs [ 27 , 28 ].

In Figure 1 , we show the pattern of colonial involvement since the pre-IRS period until today. As part of this process, the ultimate goal was the full assimilation of Indigenous peoples. When Canada mandated attendance at IRS, the then-Deputy-Minister of Indian Affairs, Duncan Campbell Scott, stated:

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Linkages from historical assimilation patterns to present-day colonial-based child protection.

“I want to get rid of the Indian problem. I do not think as a matter of fact, that the country ought to continuously protect a class of people who are able to stand alone… Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question, and no Indian Department, that is the whole object of this Bill.” [ 29 ]

In response to reports that the Indian Residential Schools were failing to meet the basic needs of Indigenous children [ 30 ], Scott noted:

It is readily acknowledged that Indian children lose their natural resistance to illness by habitating so closely in these schools, and that they die at a much higher rate than in their villages. But this alone does not justify a change in the policy of this Department, which is being geared towards the final solution of our Indian Problem. [ 31 ]

From this, the foundation of the Indigenous peoples as external to the main direction of Canada becomes evident. As Figure 1 shows, the linkages to Scott’s statements remain.

4. Law, Policy, and Assessment

We posit that current policy in social work and other mental health practices, along with assessment tools, can be linked back to the colonization and assimilation policies. This is seen today in definitions within child protection and mental health practices where Eurocentric parenting and family definitions continue to be the most credible [ 32 ]. Variations from those principles are considered deficient, if not deviant, from the preferred norm. For example, the literature related to parenting capacity assessments finds its roots in the Eurocentric understanding of family. Tools such as the Parenting Stress Index, which are used as part of assessment, are developed and normed on Eurocentric familial parenting practices. Indeed, the norming of most tools does not provide a vibrant representation of Indigenous populations [ 33 ]. This perpetuates the identification of the Indigenous population as not capable, and unable to recover and reclaim culturally based parenting and familial patterns. Offering valid assessment of the best interests of an Indigenous child should start with definitions and practices that are rooted within culture [ 34 ]. To do otherwise is to replicate the colonially based power dynamics.

The historical pattern is changeable. Recovery, as seen in Figure 2 , occurs within a broad resiliency framework that moves across generations This requires child welfare to think differently about the best interests of the Indigenous child, as noted above. A starting point is for child protection to address the idea that assimilation and removal from culture are in the best interests of the child. It follows then that the child deserves to be a direct part of culture, not living outside of it, nor as a periodic visitor, which is often how placement in non-indigenous homes becomes positioned. This may not occur by ill will, but rather by a continuity of practice that does not, of necessity, determine that “in culture” options are essential for an Indigenous child. To not see the connections to colonization and recovery in Figure 1 and Figure 2 is to deny rights to a child that can be found outlined within the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) [ 35 ] and the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) [ 36 ]. UNDRIP was adopted as law in Canada, assented to on 21 June 2021 [ 37 ].

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Moving beyond colonial victim/survivor modes both at an individual level, but also at a communal level. Recovery, also framed as success, is seen as progressing beyond the victim/survivor position, moving toward thriving (adapted from [ 38 ]).

The essential argument here is that the need to protect a child goes beyond the essentials of life (such as food, clothing, and shelter) to the development of the full human being, which includes the essential elements of who the child is culturally, which is core to their identity.

5. Intergenerational Trauma

As has been suggested above, the place of child protection and clinical decisions in the current day are made within the legacy of colonialism and the inter-generational trauma (IGT) that flows from it. There is evidence of trauma transmission across immediate generations and multiple generational trauma within communal and social familial systems [ 32 , 34 ]. These lead to a variety of other negative emotional expressions, as seen in Figure 3 . However, caution is required, as IGT can occur within overcoming and thriving, noted in Figure 2 , or in the destructive patterns seen in Figure 3 . These can bind to the child’s emotional development in safety or in trauma, and in cohesion or in fracturing. Healing also occurs through social transmission. The narrative of child protection leans toward a deficit perspective where, if the IGT has disrupted the child’s progress, then the child needs protection. This often leads to removal from the family, community, and culture, further deepening the divide. Only seeing the impact of IGT denies that strength exists within Indigenous communities, a context that must be applied to raising the child [ 34 ].

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Pathways into inter-generational trauma (IGT) and legacy implications of trauma that may be seen as acute through to chronic.

IGT is treatable [ 39 ]. To do so requires an understanding that trauma is a complex issue, as seen in Figure 3 . In the case of IGT, we are talking about both complex and chronic traumas, which are often intermixed. For example, the IRS represent both features, as the trauma was multi-faceted (physical, sexual, emotional abuse, malnutrition, and being cut off from family and culture). It was chronic in that it went on over the course of years, as students attended these institutions for several years in a row. Access to families was at the discretion of the school, as seen in Figure 4 . This meant that trauma also existed within the family and community systems as a result of the forcible removal of large percentages of children to IRS.

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The photograph from the Kamloops Indian Residential Schools dated 18 November 1948 addressed to Dear Parents.

The traumas of the IRS, Sixties Scoop, and the ongoing overrepresentation of Indigenous children in care also link to the left side of Figure 3 . Social, policy, and racial pathways combined to transmit the traumas, as the decimation of Indigenous family systems was the goal in order to force assimilation and the desistance of Indigenous peoples [ 1 , 40 ]. The impact of this legacy can be summed up as seen in Figure 5 , where social determinants of health have become disrupted due to the IGT, along with the continued legacy of complex and chronic traumas. When a population is systemically traumatized over generations, then disruption in familial, moral, and cultural structures is inevitable.

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Disrupted patterns in social and familial transmission arising from inter-generational trauma.

If the IGT story, as seen in Figure 5 , were the end of the narrative, then Canada would have been successful in the assimilation and destruction of Indigenous peoples as unique populations. Canada was not successful, although the overrepresentation noted above serves as evidence of the continuing efforts to separate children from community and family [ 1 ].

Further, the emotional response of Indigenous parents to the intrusion of child welfare in their lives triggers long-standing emotions, resulting in poor affect or volatile interaction between the parents and the system. Instead of seeing this as a predictable response, the response itself is used to further support the need for apprehension.

6. Place of Attachment Theory

It is common for an Indigenous child to be placed in non-Indigenous care when apprehended from an Indigenous family. This is partly the result of four specific factors:

  • The degree of trauma that is seen as lingering and still active in Indigenous communities is framed as a way to conceptualize the entire community as presenting risk to the child;
  • Due to IGT and IRS, many families in Indigenous communities have a history of involvement in child protection. That history is seen as presenting a risk to the child even when that history might be old or clearly related to assimilation and colonization;
  • It is easier to place a child in a non-Indigenous home, as most established foster placements are non-Indigenous, have been pre-screened, and are available to receive children;
  • As child intervention has been heavily involved in Indigenous communities, those that may care for the child may themselves have prior child intervention involvement. This acts as a barrier for approval as a caregiver.

The practice has often been to place Indigenous children into available foster homes while efforts are made to address the familial parenting issues that brought the child into care. This can take many months or even years. Searches for kinship may be delayed pending the goal of returning the child to their family. If a decision is made to sever parental rights and place the child permanently outside of the family, the child may have been in care for several years. If the parents challenge the decision in court, scheduling delays for trials can significantly lengthen the time the child is in foster care.

Attachment Theory has been used frequently as a basis to determine that a child will be irreparably harmed by removing them from their foster placement and transferring the child to a culturally based kinship placement. The research does not support this conclusion. As noted above, Rosabel-Coto [ 11 ] argued that, if a child has developed a secure attachment, then they can manage the change to adoption. The reverse must also be true—that a child can move from a secure placement outside of the family back into the family.

In addition, consideration needs to be given to the harm being done to the child through a failure to afford kinship opportunities. The child’s experience of loss and grief as a result of weakened or fractured connection with culture, community, and kinship systems requires recognition.

  • All children form attachments, although the quality will vary from child to child and relationship to relationship. These differences will vary in expression, form, and function across cultures. Thus, Eurocentric definitions and assessments are incorrectly applied to Indigenous peoples in Canada [ 38 , 39 , 41 , 42 , 43 ].
  • There is no universally accepted definition of attachment that applies across cultures. Indeed, there is a vibrant research base that shows that attachment variations exist not only in specific cultural contexts, but also that attachment varies from nuclear to communal to collectivistic arrangements [ 44 , 45 ].
  • Attachment Theory was never meant to be used as the basis of child protection decision-making. Indeed, the leading researchers in attachment theory have made that clear [ 46 , 47 ]. Attachment has been used to incorrectly determine that, once a child is placed in a foster (to adopt) or longer-term placement, the child cannot move. Careful consideration has shown that children and adults do create a variety of attachments over the course of their development over a lifetime [ 48 ]. Indeed, Duschinsky noted:
Commentators have warned, however, that slippage between the broad and circumscribed use of the term ‘attachment disorder’ has contributed in some quarters to an overdiagnoses of attachment disorders, misuse of appeal to attachment disorder in psychological assessments for family courts and ‘neglect of children’s potential other psychological needs. The gap between clinical discourses and the research paradigm has also been filled at times by inappropriate use of disorganized attachment classification, forced to play the role of a quasi-diagnostic category in child welfare practice. [ 48 ] (p. 60)

For social workers, a great deal of teaching in this area has focused upon the dyadic view of parenting in which the child attaches first to a primary caregiver, principally the mother, and then to the next-closest caregiver, typically a father figure. As shown in the Nistawatsiman project [ 34 ], this runs contrary to how Indigenous families think of caring for a child. Instead, the Indigenous community thinks of caregiving in a communal sense, where there are many caregivers—aunts, uncles, grandparents, and elders, for example. Thus, a child attaches to many people. This can be seen in other Indigenous cultures, such as the Māori in Aotearoa New Zealand. Atwool [ 49 ] stated that “Māori children are not the exclusive possessions of their parents; they belong to whanau (extended family), hapu (subtribe) and iwi (tribe)” (p. 324). Keller added that the expressions of emotion (and thus the emotional bond of attachment) vary “tremendously across cultures” (p. 4). Therefore, how a secure attachment might look will be different across cultures. This does not deny the presence of an important relational network, but illustrates that there is not a single or universal expression of what that may look like [ 4 , 50 ].

In communal societies, connections are, from the beginning, quite different. Connections are multiple, intersectional, and multidirectional. Bowlby, Ainsworth, and Main did not focus upon such views of attachment, although more recent researchers have done so. Keller [ 4 ] illustrated the problem by noting that non-Western traditional farmer families socialize infants to follow the directives of caregivers and become part of polyadic social encounters attending to a multiplicity of inputs at the same time. The underlying view of the child is that of a calm, unexpressive, quiet, and harmoniously well-integrated communal agent. Keller et al. [ 38 ] concluded, in a comment to the Mesman et al. paper, that Attachment Theory and cultural/cross-cultural psychology are not built on common ground.

Neckoway et al. [ 43 ] showed that the dyadic model is not a fit for Canadian Indigenous cultures. This should clearly raise questions as to why the use of the attachment models derived from individualistic Eurocentric cultures continues. As Keller and Bard [ 45 ] showed, there are valid ways to think of how collectivistic cultures accomplish attachment and provide for long-term stability and security. There is an error misapplying individualistic interpretations to collectivistic cultural children. It is not to suggest that Indigenous children do not attach—they do. Rather, it is to reconsider that child protection is morally obligated to think of attachment from culturally specific lenses. In Figure 6 , this collectivistic notion is illustrated, which acts as a framework for assessing attachment patterns and identifying possible alternative caregivers if a child cannot be with their parents. Elder Roy Bear Chief of the Siksika First Nation describes this as a fundamental traditional belief of his culture [ 51 ]. The lesson here is that the Eurocentric understanding of attachment and parenting need not act as the model.

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Intersectional view of childcaring within an Indigenous context, which, from early life, creates multiple attachment pathways. Amir and McAuliffe [ 52 ] have shown the value of the “in culture” experience as opposed to across-culture experiences. They note ”A general feature of these models is that they all seek in some way to contextualize child development as a dialogue between the individual and the various social, ecological, and cultural inputs they experience” (p. 433). The child is not separate from the cultural context, but an integrated part of it.

7. Place of Attachment Theory

Alloparenting is a concept that is typical in many cultures. Kenkel, Paerkeybile, and Carter [ 20 ] defined this as care provided by others, as opposed to parents. Good alloparenting systems may support the greater survival of children. Sear and Mace [ 53 ], in a systematic review, indicated that the nuclear family system is less common than might be assumed and suggested, from their research, that human children benefit from extended and kinship support in parenting. Like any form of parenting, this is not to mean that alloparenting is all good and other forms are all bad. Rather, it is to illustrate the importance of not assuming that any one system is “the” system of parenting. Therefore, this also means that Bowlby’s dyadic framework, which Main and Ainsworth expanded upon [ 5 , 7 , 14 ], should not act as the determinant of what might be in the best interests of an Indigenous child.

Relative to this point is that much of the research relied upon in child protection and mental health using attachment theory is based in a narrow worldview. Critics of the universality of attachment theory have noted that the bulk of research has been on WEIRD—Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Developed—populations [ 54 , 55 ]. Keller et al. [ 44 ] looked at this carefully, as it relates to attachment, showing how this body of research has led to assumptions of universality that are invalid. Bear this in mind as we continue to look at attachment across cultures. They went on to note that “evaluating beliefs and behaviours in one culture according to the standards of another… may be grossly misleading and also unethical” (p. 10). They further stated that “some of the original and core assumptions of attachment theory are not applicable to many cultures around the world” (p. 11). A large body of research now shows that there are many factors that influence how a child develops that are consistent across many, but not all, cultures, whereas there are many factors that are unique to cultures, but there is no single factor that predicts the development of the child [ 18 ].

8. Psychological Parent

As will be explored later in this paper, the concept of the psychological parent is also drawn upon by the courts. In terms of attachment, it has origins in the work of John and Jean Robertson [ 56 ], who were colleagues of Bowlby. They addressed the issue straight on in a way that directly reflects the current controversy:

The phenomenon of attachment and bonding which society welcomes for its binding effect in early adoption is inconvenient in foster care. In recent years we have been made painfully aware that foster parents can become psychological parents and the objects of the foster child’s deepest attachment.
Foster parents have long been expected to keep in mind that their function is only temporary, that they should remain clear about their role and not become ‘possessive’. But no matter how conscientiously restrained a foster mother may try to be, if the child is very young, he will become attached to her and the absent mother will gradually slip into un- importance. [ 56 ]

The question of the ‘psychological parent’ can be seen as determinative in case decision-making. The idea finds its origins in the work of Goldstein, Freud, and Solnit in the 1970s [ 57 ]. It is worth noting that the work of Goldstein et al. was not based upon clinical research, but the theoretical formulation of the authors. However, even these authors argued that the interests of the child should only be considered to be separate from the family when the family fails to provide nurturing, protection, and affection based upon minimally articulated societal standards. Legal scholars have adopted the concept, particularly in Canada and the United States, but there remains little clinical research to validate the concept.

The psychological parent arises from a Eurocentric understanding [ 58 ]. The psychological parent is defined as the building of a close parent-like relationship between a child and another caregiver or primary caregiver. While custody and access issues and divorce matters see the concept applied a great deal, we are most interested in the child intervention and adoption applications. It is being used, for example, in permanent guardianship cases where foster parents apply for adoption, as will be discussed below when looking at case examples in the court.

The original attachment work discussed above felt that there was an overriding benefit of continuity of care to address the child’s sense of time, as well as the physical, emotional, intellectual, social, and moral growth [ 57 ] (pp. 31–32), although the work largely lacked multiple family systems views. What was not addressed was the importance of culture and the grounding roots from culture, which might include spirituality and ways of knowing. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision Brown v Canada [ 59 ], arising from the Sixties Scoop, shows that these issues are of significance when deciding on the future of a child. That decision illustrates both the challenges when identity is fractured, as well as the long-term problems faced when attempting to regain a full identity. Thus, an Indigenous view of the meaning of parent and connection is needed.

The attachment and the psychological parent arguments also are relevant in that they pertain very much to the ‘best interests’ tests that courts are often weighing. Most Canadian child welfare legislation makes reference to this test. This matters, as it tends to focus the discussion of the needs of the child as essentially being reliant on the present caregivers. Research also indicates that assumptions that sustaining the present placement are more prone to better outcomes are not supported [ 60 ]. The compelling best interest argument is tied to culture in a caregiving environment, in which the child is connected to kin and culture when it is safe to do so.

9. Are Children Better off Growing up in Care?

It is difficult to offer a linear, causative answer, as there are many factors impacting the outcomes of children coming into and growing up in care. The research has not generally been hopeful about children who grow up in care. This includes long-term as well as short-term research. For example, Gypen et al. [ 61 ] reflected a theme that has been seen in the research fairly consistently: “One of the main findings of this study are the low educational outcomes of foster care alumni. Nearly all researchers found that former foster youth had lower educational attainments than peers from the general population” (p. 81). There is also research that shows that post-secondary educational attainment coming out of care is quite poor [ 62 ]. Other research reports higher levels of involvement with criminal justice, mental and physical health systems, unemployment, early pregnancies, homelessness, and other life functioning deficits [ 63 , 64 , 65 ].

This is not to say that all foster care situations when looked at over the long term are poor. The quality of cohesion within the foster family can make a difference [ 66 ]. Other work has supported adoption over foster care [ 67 ]. The research overall supports kinship care over other placement choices as yielding generally better outcomes [ 68 ]. The data do offer some indications that well-crafted, well supported structural relationships between foster carers and the child’s Indigenous culture can yield good outcomes. Research published in 2020 [ 69 ] from British Columbia shows what can be accomplished with highly committed partners, willing to stay in intense connection, working on the basis that connection will be continuous and not episodic. This work also indicates that a stronger connection of an Indigenous foster parent to their own culture also acts as a support for better outcomes. In addition, frequent visits to the child’s nation when the child is not living in proximity is another key element. However, the reader will note the level of commitment needed over time. We are not aware of any significant research that suggests that such a commitment is typical of private guardianship/adoption cases, although such examples do exist. Placement outside of culture works when the risks associated with kinship or cultural placement outweigh those of within-culture placement.

The data do not lead us to conclusions that foster or adoptive care is better. Instead, all things being equal, the data lean toward kinship as being better if biologically immediate caregivers (typically parents) are unavailable.

10. Question of Identity

As noted earlier, Indigenous children belong to a nation with a specific connection to history, culture, traditions, and beliefs. The research has helped us see that this is integral to knowing “who” one is within the context of ‘being’ Indigenous [ 39 ]. The works referred to earlier regarding the IRS, Sixties Scoop, and Millennial Scoop are all relevant to this issue [ 1 , 22 , 30 , 34 ]. A study included a former foster youth who was asked about being raised with her own culture as a Kainai child versus being raised in another Blackfoot nation [ 70 ]. She shared her perspective on the various options:

Yes, it would have made a difference given that it is another Blackfoot nation, so I would be learning Blackfoot ways of life and everything, which would be ideal given my circumstances. That would be better than going to a non-Indigenous home, but at the same time that’s not where I grew up. So, ideally, I would want to be with somebody who is either from Kainai, or who lives there, or who lives in a city but is from there and has connections to them. That would be ideal, but secondly, Siksika would be okay given that they are Indigenous. But then, at the same time, I’d still be different because I was from a different reserve…. whether it be somebody that maybe doesn’t have any relation to you, but that’s still like your family, they’re still from where you’re from, and have connections to that nation. [ 70 ]

It is perhaps worth knowing that this young lady did have some connection with her family on the nation, but never in a way that sustained her understanding of being a true member of the Kainai First Nation. She described having her feet in two places (white society and Kainai), but never being able to make sense of who she was. She visited her culture as opposed to living it.

In another interview, a Sixties Scoop survivor stated, ”I would have grown up knowing who I was. I had my dad’s side who was all traditional; I could have been exposed right away to culture. I could have known right away who I was. I would have been put in ceremonies. I would have grown up knowing the pipe, the sweat lodge, powwows.” [ 70 ].

Umana-Taylor and Hill [ 71 ] noted that adoptive parents pay little attention to their children’s ethnic minority backgrounds. Adoptive and foster parents caring for transcultural children typically lack an understanding of what it means to be within another, to live in it, to be of it, and to know it from within the self [ 32 ]. Degener et al. [ 72 ] found that foster families pay greater attention to the provision of a safe and stable environment and less, perhaps at times no attention, to minority ethnicity. They tended toward silence around the discrimination the children faced, but saw birth parents as connectors to ethnicity. In line with the quotations above, LaBrenz et al. [ 73 ] found that implicit bias and structural racism impact placement stability, which may further traumatize and emphasize the losses experienced by ethnic children. Citing Cripps and Laurens, they noted that long-term well-being and resilience came from connections with family, community, and culture. Brown et al. (as cited by [ 73 ]) found that, when parents perceived cultural matches with the children placed with them, there were smoother transitions, with the children feeling more secure and less stressed. A strong positive identity, which is linked to the cultural question of who I am, is also linked to better placement stability as well as mental health. This can be achieved through inattentional case planning around racial matching [ 73 ] combined with culturally based services, support, and experiences meaningful to the child, their family, and the specific Indigenous community. These experiences need to be persistent such that the child sees connection to their own culture as normative and predictable.

11. Case Examples

The longest-standing precedent legal case in Canada regarding attachment and culture is known as Racine v Woods [ 74 ], which was discussed at length in [ 70 ]. The importance to the present paper is that the Supreme Court of Canada, in that case, determined that the attachment relationship that was established with an alternate caregiver was of greater significance than culture. As has been noted throughout this paper, the research on attachment does not bear this out. It is worth noting that the child in the Racine case left the non-Indigenous family and ultimately returned to their culture. However, the real challenge for these types of cases is that the trial judge needs to consider the balance of the best interests of the child, bearing in mind the facts laid before the court, and then apply judicial precedents that may help to guide decision-making. This requires that trial judges acknowledge the importance of culture as an equally important component of the definition of best interests.

An example of how attachment theory can be applied in a trial situation is seen in the case of ZB [ 75 ]. The essential facts are that the child was apprehended at birth and placed into the care of foster parents at the time, i.e., January 2018. The child protection authority was granted permanent care of the child in December of the same year. The maternal extended family was identified in early 2020, although building the relationship with the child was hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic. The foster parents were advised in November 2020 that the child would be transitioning to the kinship placement. In December 2020, the foster parents made an application that would result in the child staying with them, as opposed to transitioning to kinship care. The Court decided to keep the child in the foster parents’ care as private guardians of the child, which had the effect of closing the role of child protection. In making that decision, the Court noted at para 52 “The fact of the matter is that the Director placed the Child with the Foster Parents immediately upon her birth. She has remained there her entire life. She has not been “placed” anywhere else…” The Court added in para 53 “…ultimately require the Court to prioritize the best interests of a child when making decisions relating to that child.” The Court does acknowledge that there is a significant interest in sustaining the child’s connection to culture, but stated “emphasize the importance of Indigenous identity and culture, this is neither the only nor the priority factor to be considered in determining a child’s best interests (Para. 54). The Court determined that placement stability had greater weight than culture given “the best interests of this Child in her particular circumstances.” (Para. 55). This follows very closely the reasoning of the Supreme Court of Canada in the Racine decision of 1983 “the significance of cultural background and heritage as opposed to bonding abates over time. The closer the bond that develops with the prospective adoptive parents the less important the racial element becomes” (Para. 187).

We suggest that this line of thinking follows the notion that attachment is primary to a single relationship, not transferable to another party, and follows the dyadic model of Eurocentric nuclear family models, as opposed to the alloparenting of Indigenous communal parenting models.

These cases become substantially more challenging when the child has been in the care of the foster parent for a lengthy period. In the case of MU (2022) [ 76 ], the Court was faced with a case where a child had been in the non-Indigenous foster home for 12 years and openly expressed a desire to stay there. The child was placed with the foster mother at 5 days of age. The foster mother had actively engaged the child in cultural activities; however, the child’s First Nation sought to differentiate what is essentially visiting culture as opposed to living culture. The court did not accept that line of thinking, stating:

There is also now strong recognition that cultural heritage is an important factor in determining what is in a child’s best interests. Article 20 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child provides that due regard shall be paid to the desirability of continuity in a child’s upbringing and to the child’s ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic background. Nevertheless, as our case has clearly shown, there are still contentious questions in law about how much weight to place on a child’s Indigenous heritage when determining what is, in fact, in the best interests of the child. (Para. 222)

However, the Court noted the importance of Racine [ 74 ], but then stated:

Has the state of the law changed since the decision in Racine v Woods ? [ 74 ] All jurisdictions in Canada have now enacted child welfare legislation requiring judges and agencies to consider a child’s cultural heritage when making a decision regarding the child. The dilemma is how to properly weigh the Indigenous culture as a ‘best interests’ factor. (Para. 227)

The Court noted a series of cases ( SM [ 77 ], URM [ 78 ], and DP [ 79 ]) where the best interests of the child relate more to the attachment developed over time in non-Indigenous placement, although the Courts do not dismiss culture, but give it a lower priority. As seen in MU [ 76 ], this runs counter to the beliefs of Indigenous communities.

Does culture fade?

To accept the line of thinking seen in the above case examples, we could expect that attachment does trump culture for the long-term benefit of the child. Thus, cross-cultural placements should be preferable as being consistent with the best interests of the child. In looking at the literature regarding this, there appears to be a strong argument that children seek out and need their cultural place, as it is essential to knowing who they are as a person. In a systematic review, Degener, van Bergen, and Grietens [ 80 ] determined that children transracially placed can expect to struggle with their racial/ethnic identity over time. Quite relevant for this paper, they also noted that these children are prone to disconnection with their birth network, although there are exceptions. The authors reported the literature that such placements do impact ethnic identity, although some mitigation is possible with high levels of cultural competency by the foster parents. LaBrenz et al. [ 73 ] stated that racial matching matters in terms of placement stability. They also saw the importance of kinship placements.

It is hard to sustain cultural identity when growing up in an environment that seeks to offer placement safety and to operate as a family unit. The foster family, being of a different ethnic origin from the child, tries to follow a balance between the child’s identity and the foster family’s racial identity [ 72 ] Foster parents can be receptive to the idea of trying to support cultural identity [ 81 ], which matters because the question of sustaining the child’s identity is not one of neglect by the caregivers, but more so of the system that does not see cultural placement as the best and most common option to follow.

In the case of Brown v Canada [ 59 ], the Court gave careful consideration to the question of whether a child loses their culture or it is a void that the child has an ongoing yearning to fill. This case was focused upon the children who were removed en masse from their Indigenous homes, following which they were placed and adopted in non-Indigenous homes. The breakdown by age 16 of Indigenous children placed in non-Indigenous homes is estimated to be about 85–95% [ 82 ]. The Court in Brown stated:

The impact on the removed aboriginal children has been described as “horrendous, destructive, devastating and tragic.” The uncontroverted evidence of the plaintiff’s experts is that the loss of their aboriginal identity left the children fundamentally disoriented, with a reduced ability to lead healthy and fulfilling lives. The loss of aboriginal identity resulted in psychiatric disorders, substance abuse, unemployment, violence and numerous suicides. Some researchers argue that the Sixties Scoop was even “more harmful than the residential schools: [ 59 ] (Para. 7)

Residential schools incarcerated children for 10 months of the year, but at least the children stayed in an Aboriginal peer group; they always knew their First Nation of origin and who their parents were, and they knew that, eventually, they would be going home. In the foster and adoptive system, Aboriginal children vanished with scarcely a trace, the vast majority of them were placed until they were adults in non-Aboriginal homes where their cultural identity and legal Indian status, their knowledge of their own First Nation, and even their birth names were erased, often forever [ 83 ].

The Sixties Scoop is framed as a cultural genocide [ 1 ], but it also serves as a stark example of the large-scale impact of non-Indigenous care for Indigenous children. The case also illustrates that these children, around 20,000, did not lose their need for identity rooted within their culture. This acts to affirm that culture does not, in general, fade.

12. Discussion

The continued application of a westernized understanding of the way that Attachment Theory is to be applied to Indigenous peoples extends colonial intervention. It is part of a belief that Eurocentric structures, laws, policies, science, and social services all know better than Indigenous peoples about what is needed for their children to be properly cared for. The application of WEIRD science [ 54 , 55 ] also denies that Indigenous peoples have the capacity to assess and respond within their own knowledge systems [ 32 ].

Social work has been criticized for grabbing on to Attachment Theory as an evidence-based approach to plan for the best interest outcome for a child. As White, Gibson, Wastell, and Walsh [ 84 ] suggested, it has become a method by which to professionalize the profession. It also serves as a way to buffer criticism arising from managerialism oversight when something may go wrong. Theories and evidence-based practices are quite useful when applied appropriately. In this paper, we have argued that social work and the courts may well not be applying Attachment Theory validly with Indigenous peoples. Forslund et al. [ 46 ] indicated that Attachment Theory is best used when not attending to individual differences, but rather as a way to work with family to think about the relationships within the family system. We might also think of the theory as being imported into Indigenous populations, rather than it being from their ways of knowing and being, which is something that Joy [ 85 ] (p. 188) pondered about in relation to Māori peoples.

Remedies are not easily achieved. Intentional case management that considers not only the cultural needs of Indigenous children, but also the direction of courts becomes central to social work child protection practice. The recent cases of ZB [ 75 ] and MU [ 76 ] offer a window into change. They have essentially said that, if culture really matters, do not ask the courts to address the issue long after the child has been placed in non-cultural care. The courts are strongly recommending that child protection addresses culture as an immediate priority. Indeed, the decisions reviewed in this paper invite social work and child protection to take the lead in making culture a priority. The alternative is the assumption by the courts that culture is not a central need of a child. This approach should not be seen as diminishing the role of Indigenous-driven case management, but rather as a strong move away from assimilation, which should no longer be seen as a legitimate part of child protection mandate or practice.

We would be remiss if we did not also note that many of the concerns raised in this paper apply to other non-white populations that are also oversurveilled by child protection and where racially inappropriate assessment and intervention approaches are used. Boatswain-Kyte et al. [ 86 ] showed that a shift in culture within CPS will be essential to break down racially based biases and be able to build effective working relationships with diverse populations.

13. Conclusions

Mental health and child intervention systems intersect with multiple populations whose expression of family varies across cultures. There is no universal definition of family and, thus, there is also no universal ‘right’ way to parent. In this paper, the argument is made that Canadian Indigenous peoples have not only been subject to colonization, but also to systems that try to impose Eurocentric definitions of parenting and child development. This potentially harms children and is a form of adversity placed upon families that can be avoided. Using the examples of how Attachment Theory is misapplied across cultures, professionals and the courts might reconsider how “good enough” parenting might look when seen through the eyes of the culture in which the child is being raised.

Funding Statement

This research received no external funding.

Author Contributions

All authors conceptualized, researched, and wrote the paper. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Informed consent statement, data availability statement, conflicts of interest.

The authors declare no conflict of interests.

Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

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Home > Family, Home, and Social Sciences > Family Life > Marriage and Family Therapy > Theses and Dissertations

Marriage and Family Therapy

Marriage and Family Therapy Theses and Dissertations

Theses/dissertations from 2019 2019.

Attachment and Relationship Quality: A Longitudinal Cross-Lagged Panel Model Examining the Association of Attachment Styles and Relationship Quality in Married Couples , Meagan Cahoon Alder

Coding Rupture Indicators in Couple Therapy (CRICT): An Observational Coding Scheme , AnnaLisa Ward Carr

We Shall Overcome: The Association Between Family of Origin Adversity, Coming to Terms, and Relationship Quality for African Americans , Kylee Marshall

Sri Lankan Widows' Mental Health: Does Type of Spousal Loss Matter? , Katrina Nicole Nelson

The Role of the Autonomic Nervous System in the Relationship Between Emotion Regulation and Conflict Tactics in Couples , Natalie Gold Orr

A Content Analysis of Ethnic Minorities in the Professional Discipline of Clinical Psychology , Pedro L. Perez Aquino

Sleep, Stress, and Sweat: Implications for Client Physiology Prior to Couple Therapy , Christina Michelle Rosa

Theses/Dissertations from 2018 2018

A Content Analysis of the Journal of Adolescent Health: Using Past Literature to Guide Healthcare Research of US Ethnic Minority Adolescents , Kate Amanda Handy

Stress of Trying Daily Therapy Interventions , Emily Kathryn Hansen

U.S. Racial/Ethnic/Cultural Groups in Counseling Psychology Literature: A Content Analysis , Jared Mark Hawkins

Can Attachment Behaviors Moderate the Influence of Conflict Styles on Relationship Quality? , Cameron W. Hee

Therapist Behaviors That Predict the Therapeutic Alliance in Couple Therapy , Bryan C. Kubricht

Insider Perspectives of Mate Selection in Modern Chinese Society , Szu-Yu Lin

The Development of a Reliable Change Index and Cutoff for the SCORE-15 , Cara Ann Nebeker Adams

Difference in Therapeutic Alliance: High-Conflict Co-Parents vs Regular Couples , Andrea Mae Parady

Effects of Exercise on Clinical Couple Interactions , Samantha Karma-Jean Simpson

The Effect of Common Factor Therapist Behaviors on Change in Marital Satisfaction , Li Ping Su

Theses/Dissertations from 2017 2017

Physiological Attunement and Influence in Couples Therapy: Examining the Roots of Therapeutic Presence , Julia Campbell Bernards

Youth Disclosure: Examining Measurement Invariance Across Time and Reporter , Robb E. Clawson

A Pilot Study Examining the Role of Treatment Type and Gender in Cortisol Functioning , Stephanie Young Davis

Longitudinal Relations Between Interparental Conflict and Adolescent Self-Regulation: The Moderating Role of Attachment to Parents , Lisa Tensmeyer Hansen

Cost Outcomes for Major Depressive Disorder and Bipolar Disorder Across Professional License Types and Modalities , Julia H. Jones

The Relationship Between Relational Aggression and Sexual Satisfaction: Investigating the Mediating Role of Attachment Behaviors , Melece Vida Meservy

The Effects of Family Stressors on Depression in Latino Adolescents as Mediated by Interparental Conflict , Jenny Carolina Mondragon

A Longitudinal Examination of Parental Psychological Control and Externalizing Behavior in Adolescents with Adolescent Internalized Shame as a Mediating Variable , Iesha Renee Nuttall

Multiculturalism and Social Work: A Content Analysis of the Past 25 Years of Research , Lauren Christine Smithee

Implicit Family Process Rules Specific to Eating-Disordered Families , Mallory Rebecca Wolfgramm

The Impact of Timing of Pornography Exposure on Mental Health, Life Satisfaction, and Sexual Behavior , Bonnie Young

Theses/Dissertations from 2016 2016

The Relationship Between the Poor Parenting in Childhood and Current Adult Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression: Attachment as a Mediator , Kayla Lynn Burningham

Longitudinal Examination of Observed Family Hostility and Adolescent Anxiety and Depression as Mediated by Adolescent Perspective Taking and Empathic Concern , Trevor Dennis Dahle

The Influence of Client General Anxiety and Attachment Anxiety onAlliance Development in Couple Therapy , Erica Leigh Delgado

U.S. Ethnic Groups in the Journal of Family Psychology : A Content Analysis , Jessica Croft Gilliland

Passion and Sexuality in Committed Relationships , Emilie Iliff

Does Self-Esteem Mediate the Effect of Attachment on Relationship Quality , Alexis Lee

A Content Analysis and Status Report of Adolescent Development Journals: How Are We Doing in terms of Ethnicity and Diversity? , Jason Bernard Lefrandt

The Effect of Marital Therapy on Physical Affection , Tiffany Ann Migdat

Predicting Externalizing Behaviors in Latino Adolescents Using Parenting and EducationalFactors , Sergio Benjamin Pereyra

Pathways to Marriage: Relationship History and Emotional Health as Individual Predictors of Romantic Relationship Formation , Garret Tyler Roundy

Examining the Link Between Exercise and Marital Arguments in Clinical Couples , Bailey Alexandra Selland

Cost-Effectiveness of Psychotherapy and Dementia: A Comparison by Treatment Modality and Healthcare Provider , Megan Ruth Story

Childhood Abuse Types and Adult Relational Violence Mediated by Adult Attachment Behaviors and Romantic Relational Aggression in Couples , Tabitha Nicole Webster

Theses/Dissertations from 2015 2015

The Effects of Marital Attachment and Family-of-Origin Stressors on Body Mass Index , Merle Natasha Bates

Shame, Relational Aggression, and Sexual Satisfaction: A Longitudinal Study , Austin Ray Beck

Parent and Adolescent Attachment and Adolescent Shame and Hope with Psychological Control as a Mediator , Natasha K. Bell

The Relationship Among Male Pornography Use, Attachment, and Aggression in Romantic Relationships , Andrew P. Brown

The Moderating Effect of Attachment Behaviors on the Association Between Video Game Use, Time Together as a Problem, and Relationship Quality , Stella Christine Dobry

Attachment Behaviors as a Moderator of the Relationship Between Disapproval and Relationship Satisfaction , Lauren Drean

Effects of Interparental Conflict on Taiwanese Adolescents’ Depression and Externalizing Problem Behavior: A Longitudinal Study , Chih Han Hsieh

The Cost Effectiveness of Psychotherapy for Treating Adults with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder , Micah LaVar Ingalls

Effects of Positive and Negative Events on Daily Relationship Effect for Clinical Couples: A Daily Diary Study , Kayla Dawn Mennenga

A Longitudinal Study of Therapist Emotion Focused Therapy Interventions Predicting In-Session Positive Couple Behavior , Josh Novak

Facilitative Implicit Rules and Adolescent Emotional Regulation , Lexie Y. Pfeifer

Avoidant Parental and Self Conflict-Resolution Styles and Marital Relationship Self-Regulation: Do Perceived Partner Attachment BehaviorsPlay a Moderating Role? , Erin L. Rackham

Individual Personality and Emotional Readiness Characteristics Associated with Marriage Preparation Outcomes of Perceived Helpfulness and Change , Megan Ann Rogers

Interactions Between Race, Gender, and Income in Relationship Education Outcomes , Andrew K. Thompson

Theses/Dissertations from 2014 2014

Partner Attachment and the Parental Alliance , Ashley B. Bell

A Glimmer of Hope? Assessing Hope as a Moderator of the Relationship Between Parenting and Adolescent Depressive Symptoms , Lisa D. Bishop

Father Influence on Adolescent Sexual Debut , Daniel Joseph Blocker

Stable Conflict Resolution Styles and Commitment: Their Roles in Marital Relationship Self-Regulation , Rebecca Suzanne Boyd

Me, You, and Porn: A Common-Fate Analysis of Pornography Use and Sexual Satisfaction Among Married Couples , Cameron C. Brown

The Relationship Between Partner Perceptions of Marital Power and Sexual Satisfaction as Mediated by Observed Hostile Interaction , Amanda Claire Christenson

The Impact of Parentification on Depression Moderated by Self-Care: A Multiple Group Analysis by Gender for South Korea and the U.S. , Sunnie Giles

Romantic Relational Aggression in Parents and Adolescent Child Outcomes , Jennifer Nicole Hawkley

Cost-Effectiveness of Treating Oppositional Defiant Disorder: A Comparison by Treatment Modality and Mental Health Provider Type , Julie Denise Malloy

Constructive vs. Destructive Anger: A Model and Three Pathways for the Expression of Anger , Kierea Chanelle Meloy

Treatment Outcomes for Mood Disorders with Concurrent Partner Relational Distress: A Comparison by Treatment Modality and Profession , Holly Pack

Cost Effectiveness of Treating Generalized Anxiety Disorder in Adolescence: A Comparison by Provider Type and Therapy Modality , Kathryn Evelyn Reynolds

Commitment, Forgiveness, and Relationship Self-Regulation: An Actor-Partner Interdependence Model , Heather Michele Smith

A Comparison of Contemporary Filial Piety in Rural and Non-Rural China and Taiwan , Li Ping Su

A Dyadic Analysis of Couple Attachment Behaviors as Predictors of Dietary Habits and Physical Activity Levels , Stephanie Young

Theses/Dissertations from 2013 2013

Cost-Effectiveness of Treating Pervasive Developmental Disorders: A Comparison by Treatment Modality , Jaime Elizabeth Ballard

Couples' Experience of Attachment-Related Change in Context of Couple-Centered, Enactment-Based Therapy Process and Therapist-Centered Therapy Process: A Qualitative Study , James Waid Ballard

Links between High Economic Distress and School Engagement as Mediated through Negative Marital Interaction and Parental Involvement , Lauren Alyssa Bone Barnes

The Relationship Between Frequency of Incest and Relational Outcomes with Family-of-Origin Characteristics as a Potential Moderating Variable , Kathleen Diane Baxter

Parental Involvement, Parent-Child Warmth and School Engagement as Mediated by Self-Regulation , Jeffrey James Bentley

The Effect of Attachment on the Therapeutic Alliance in Couples Therapy , Shawn A. Bills

Intrinsic Religiosity and Adolescent Depression and Anxiety: The Mediating Role of Components of Self-Regulation , Brent Charles Black

The Relationship Between Romantic Relationship Initiation Processes of Single LDS Emerging Adults and Change in Attachment Working Models with Implications for Practice , Matthew Lloyd Call

Attachment and Covert Relational Aggression in Marriagewith Shame as a Potential Moderating Variable: A Two Wave Panel Study , Charity Elaine Clifford

Family Implicit Rules, Shame, and Adolescent Prosocial and Antisocial Behaviors , Jeffrey Paul Crane

Infidelity and Forgiveness: Therapists' Views on Reconciliation and Restoration of Trust Following Disclosure of Infidelity , Miranda Mae Goldie

Power of Shame: The Moderating Effects of Parental and Peer Connection on the Relationship Between Adolescent Shame and Depression, Self-Esteem, and Hope , Alexander L. Hsieh

Couple Attachment and Sexual Desire Discrepancy: A Longitudinal Study of Non-Clinical Married Couples at Mid-Life , Anthony Allen Hughes

Factors Relating to Romantic Relationship Experiences for Emerging Adults , Sabra Elyse Johnson

Attachment Behaviors as Mediators Between Family-of-Origin Quality and Couple Communication Quality in Marriage: Implications for Couples Therapy , Darin Justin Knapp

Division of Labor and Marital Satisfaction in China and Taiwan , Bryan C. Kubricht

Stability and Change in Women's Personality Across the Life Course , Carly D. LeBaron

The Cost Effectiveness of Collaborative Mental Health Services In Outpatient Psychotherapy Care , Ashley Ann Maag

The Relationship Between Insecure Attachment and Premarital Sexual Timing , Carly Ostler

A Longitudinal View of the Association Between Therapist Behaviors and Couples' In-Session Process: An Observational Pilot Study of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy , Lori Kay Schade

Conflict Resolution Styles as Mediators of Female Childhood Sexual Abuse Experience and Couple Relationship Satisfaction and Stability in Adulthood , Ashlee Elizabeth Sloan

The Relationship Between Video Game Use and Couple Attachment Behaviors in Committed Romantic Relationships , Jamie McClellan Smith

Psychological Control, Parental Support, Adolescent Grades and School Engagement , David Brian Thompson

Shame Not the Same for Different Styles of Blame: Shame as a Mediating Variable for Severity of Childhood Sexual Abuse and Trauma Symptoms in Three Attribution of Blame Groups , Tabitha Nicole Webster

Theses/Dissertations from 2012 2012

The Mediating Influence of Child Self-Regulation on the Relationship Between Couple Attachment Security in Parents and Anxiety in Their Children , David P. Adamusko

Couple Communication as a Mediator Between Work-Family Conflict and Marital Satisfaction , Sarah J. Carroll

The Role of Trait Forgiveness in Moderating the Relationship between Materialism and Relationship Instability in Couples , Lance J. Dome

Relationship Between Observed Parental Optimism and Adolescent Optimism with Parental Involvement as a Mediating Variable: Two Wave Panel Study , Allison Ellsworth

Mental Health Treatment for Children and Adolescents: Cost Effectiveness, Dropout, and Recidivism by Presenting Diagnosis and Therapy Modality , David Fawcett

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Attachment Theory Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

🏆 best attachment theory topic ideas & essay examples, 🥇 most interesting attachment theory topics to write about.

  • 📌 Simple & Easy Communication Essay Titles
  • Attachment Theory: Term Definition Bowlby proposed that a two month-old attachment is made up of a number of component instinctual responses that have the function of binding the infant to the mother and the mother to the infant.
  • Attachment Theory and Emotion Experience in Life According to the proponents of the attachment theory, children develop a bond with their caregivers, which grow into an emotional bond.
  • Acute Stress and Attachment Theory At the point of stress, the person will feel vulnerable or in danger and will need something to offer them security.
  • Bowlby’s Stages of Attachment and Bowlby’s Theory Bowlby’s four stages of attachment is a framework that holds that newborns undergo four phases of associations with their primary caregiver namely the pre-attachment, clearly defined attachment, attachment-in-the-making, and reciprocal connections. The attachment in the […]
  • The Application of Attachment Theory The assumptions of this theory may be successfully applied in practice in a row of spheres including child care, children’s clinical psychology, and adult clinical psychology.
  • Secure Attachment in Psychological Theories One of the tasks is to examine the effects of temperamental, medical, or behavioral characteristics of a child or parent on the quality of attachment.
  • Attachment Theory and the Developmental Stages of a Child
  • Attachment, Intimacy, Autonomy: Using Attachment Theory in Adult Psychotherapy
  • Psychoanalytic Theory From the Viewpoint of Attachment Theory and Research
  • Toward the Next Quarter-Century: Conceptual and Methodological Challenges for Attachment Theory
  • Using Attachment Theory to Understand Illness Behavior
  • Attachment Theory: Basic Concepts and Contemporary Questions
  • The Key Arguments, Theoretical Value, and Related Theories of John Bowlby’s Attachment Theory
  • Therapeutic Alliance and Attachment Theory and Retention in Therapy
  • Attachment Theory and Affect Regulation: The Dynamics, Development, and Cognitive Consequences
  • Attachment Theory and Maternal Drug Addiction: The Contribution to Parenting Interventions
  • Application of Attachment Theory to the Study of Sexual Abuse
  • Contribution of Attachment Theory to Developmental Psychopathology
  • Social and Personality Development Through the Attachment Theory
  • Piaget’s Cognitive Attachment Theory Analysis
  • Bowlby and Ainsworth’s Views on Attachment Theory
  • Attachment Theory and the Different Attachment Styles Which Are Formed During Infancy
  • The Emergence and Concept Behind the Attachment Theory
  • How Has Attachment Theory Been Used to Account for Differences in the Development of Social Relationships?
  • Modern Attachment Theory and Its Effects on the Development of Brain
  • Internal Working Models in Attachment Relationships: Elaborating a Central Construct in Attachment Theory

📌 Simple & Easy Attachment Theory Essay Titles

  • Relations Among Relationships: Contributions From Attachment Theory and Research
  • Attachment Theory and Its Influence on Children’s Emotional Development
  • Attachment Theory and Social Workers: Assessing Quality of Care Received by Children
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Attachment Theory Relationship
  • New Frontiers and Applications of Attachment Theory
  • Attachment Theory and Parenting Style Influence on Children
  • Modeling Corporate Citizenship, Organizational Trust, and Work Engagement Based on Attachment Theory
  • Modern Attachment Theory: The Central Role of Affect Regulation in Development and Treatment
  • Medically Unexplained Symptoms and Attachment Theory: The Body-Mind Approach
  • The Ultimatum Game and Expected Utility Maximization – In View of Attachment Theory
  • Union and Separation: Morrie’s Philosophies and the Attachment Theory
  • Attachment Theory as It Relates to Growth and Development of Young Children
  • The Use of Modern Attachment Theory, Self Psychology and Neurobiology
  • The Extent to Which the Attachment Theory Explains Personality Development
  • Attachment Theory and Its Basis for Advice on How to Bring up Children
  • What Does Attachment Theory Tell Us About Working With Distressing Voices?
  • How Has Bowlby’s Attachment Theory Been Modified by the Findings of Later Research?
  • Bowlby’s Attachment Theory and Paiget’s Cognitive Theory Compared
  • How Does Your Understanding of Attachment Theory and Maternal Deprivation Inform Your Understanding of Nursing Practice?
  • South African Social Workers’ Knowledge of Attachment Theory and Their Perceptions of Attachment Relationships in Foster Care
  • Foster Care Titles
  • Neuroscience Research Ideas
  • Parenting Research Topics
  • Self-Concept Questions
  • Psychopathology Paper Topics
  • Social Development Essay Topics
  • Emotional Intelligence Paper Topics
  • Family Problems Questions
  • Chicago (A-D)
  • Chicago (N-B)

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How to Heal Anxious Attachment by Prioritizing Your Own Needs

Are you a chronic people-pleaser, prioritizing others’ needs over your own? Do you struggle with saying no, and feel responsible for others’ happiness? Do you find that your self-esteem is often dependent on what happens in a given day, or how others react to you? If so, the roots might lie in your attachment style.

At its most basic level, attachment refers to the first emotional bond that forms between you and your primary caregiver(s). This first crucial bond, designed to keep you alive and thriving during a time when you can’t possibly care for yourself, sets the stage for the development of who you are, what you believe (particularly about yourself), and how you will interact with others, according to decades of research.

Psychologists describe individual attachment as anxious when, for example, people have a strong desire to fix others’ problems, often at their own expense. They put a premium on others’ well-being and contentment over their own, and while they are busy solving others’ problems, their needs are unattended, and they put their own life on hold.

dissertation ideas on attachment

Although they enjoy helping others, they do so primarily because they fear that if they don’t, people will abandon and reject them. Hypersensitivity to cues of rebuff or disinterest by others lead these worried warriors (my term for the anxiously attached) to become the quintessential people pleasers. They go out of their way to get others to like them and continue supporting them, and this reduces their anxiety.

People with anxious attachment are often still harboring early childhood experiences that involved fear of rejection and abandonment by important adults in their lives, or the feeling that their parents’ love and support was conditional on their good behavior (whether that was true or not). Experiences that are repeated or reinforced over time create emotional imprints that profoundly impact the formation of our core beliefs—what we believe about ourselves, how we interact with others, and how we respond to life’s challenges.

In my recent TEDx talk , I discuss how each attachment style carries its own prototypical self-talk. The most common self-statements of the anxiously attached include “I need to rescue everyone,” “I’m not as worthy as others,” “I fear being on my own,” and “I have to analyze everything.” This explains why even in adulthood, an anxiously attached person might need constant reassurance and affection from others.

While being helpful is a wonderful trait, if you are constantly overextending yourself, it can leave you feeling emotionally drained and perpetually anxious and stressed. It’s also a recipe for resentment. When you sacrifice your own happiness for others, even if you believe that your needs shouldn’t come first, pushing down what you want or need in your relationships with romantic partners, family members, or friends repeatedly becomes corrosive to those relationships.

You’re also more likely to burn out at work as you bend over backward trying to please the people you work with—your colleagues, boss, or customers. Any interaction or project is an opportunity to show what you’re made of, but you take it to such extremes that it can leave you feeling fatigued and, ironically, less capable of producing your best work.

Bonus Exercise: Practice Your “No”

Everything you say yes to means saying no to something else—and for worried warriors, that “something else” is often your own well-being. Here are tips for gently turning people down:

Ask yourself: Will doing this thing bring me joy and fulfillment? If your response is a resounding yes, commit. If it’s anything other than an immediate, gut-fluttering yes, say no.

Don’t over-explain and don’t over-apologize. You have the right to say no and still be able to maintain positive relationships.

The goal is to communicate to the person that you appreciate the request, then firmly (but gently) decline the request. If applicable, offer an alternative solution.

When in doubt, try using one of these phrases to reduce guilt and maintain healthy boundaries; “Thank you for thinking of me, but my plate is full, and I won’t be able to take on more at this time”; “Hey! I won’t be able to make it this time, but thanks for inviting me!”; or “I can’t do this for you today, but I will have time this weekend. Would you like me to do it then?”

When worried warriors hyperfocus on others’ moods and needs, they sometimes will become so immersed in that person’s experience, it’s as if they were the ones going through the ordeal. Being tied to another’s emotional experiences and behavior can cause a lot of ups and downs in their own emotional life, because the way they feel is predicated on whatever happens to and around them on a given day and in the lives of the people they are in relationship with.

That difficulty maintaining a healthy boundary between themselves and people they are close to leads to difficulty separating their sense of self and their individual identity from the people they are in relationships with. As their own self-concept fluctuates, they feel the need to involve themselves in more projects and relationships to confirm that they’re allowed to feel good about themselves. Sometimes they do so in ways that create unhealthy bonds or allow the person they rescue to continue with their bad behavior because the person with anxious attachment will cover for them or bail them out. The more they put others first, the more their subconscious mind tells them that they are less important than others, and the cycle continues.

The antidote to putting others’ needs before your own is refocusing your attention on you and taking the time to learn about who you are: your hopes and dreams, your likes and dislikes, and what gets you excited to wake up in the morning. This refocusing isn’t vain or selfish—it’s necessary so that you understand what you need and value in life, and so that you can continue to give to others without forgetting or losing a part of yourself.

But how? I have an exercise that will help you to work toward healing your insecure attachment behaviors and to uncover a self-concept that is rooted internally in your own thoughts, feelings, and values.

I call it the “Discovery Exercise.” This is my version of a Japanese practice called ikigai . “Iki” in Japanese means “life,” and “gai” describes value or worth. Ikigai can be understood as your “reason for being.” Knowing your ikigai inspires you to get out of bed each day with enthusiasm, with joy in your heart, and to live your best life. It also helps you to hold true to what’s important to you, and what brings you meaning, purpose, and fulfillment, while at the same time contributing to the greater good and being of service to others.

My version of ikigai focuses on a deep self-exploration of what is most important to you and what makes you unique. It asks you to focus on your values and needs, brings awareness to your positive traits, and gets you to identify your turn-offs or, at the extreme, deal-breakers. Knowing your turn-offs helps you to define and enact healthier boundaries in your relationships and gives you a sense of what to take on and when to say no.

Take a look at my version of ikigai below and take some time to brainstorm about each of these areas. On a page in your journal—or perhaps just as a note on your phone—write the following headings, then brainstorm what fits into each of the categories and write them down.

If you have trouble creating a list, here are some questions that can help to prompt your thinking.

  • What you love (passions): What activities bring you joy and make you feel most alive and fulfilled? What activities make you lose track of time when you’re doing them and make it easy to be mindful?
  • What you are good at (skills): What are some of your skills, hobbies, or talents? What do others compliment you on?
  • What you value: What are the most important personal qualities you choose to embody to guide your actions? What words describe the kind of person you want to be? What are your basic beliefs that guide or motivate your actions?
  • What you need: Try assessing your needs à la Maslow’s hierarchy : physiological (hunger, thirst, sleep, sex), safety (security and stability in daily life), belonging and love (feeling connected to other people), self-esteem, and self-actualization (becoming the person you have the potential of becoming and with purpose).
  • Your positive traits: What are some of the characteristics about yourself that you cherish or are the proudest of? What do people point out to you when they tell you what’s special about you?
  • Your turn-offs: What are things that people do that cause you to feel very upset? What are deal-breakers in how others treat you?
  • What helps others: What is something you do that helps other people, lessens their burdens, or makes them feel cared for?

After you’ve completed my version of the ikigai to uncover who you are, by journaling your responses to the following prompts, you can begin to incorporate this self-knowledge in your everyday life in the following ways:

  • Take time to acknowledge your top needs each day and to pursue at least one. Make sure it is prioritized by putting it on your daily to-do list.
  • Think about how you can continue to grow and nurture your positive qualities.
  • Do at least one of the activities on your what-you-love list each day.
  • How can you use one of your skills toward an important goal or to bring joy to another person?
  • How can you honor your top values today? What is one thing you can do in service of your top values?
  • How can you use your turn-offs list to set healthier boundaries with people who ask for too much from you?
  • How can you continue to help others without sacrificing what you love and your values? Brainstorm how you can serve and help others while tapping into a deeper sense of fulfillment that honors who you are, highlighted through this exercise.

The more you practice ikigai, the easier it will be to notice when your boundaries are challenged—and when to honor yourself first. After all, you must take care of yourself before you can really serve others in the way you truly want to—not to win their approval, but because doing so is meaningful and brings you fulfillment.

About the Author

Headshot of Judy Ho

Judy Ho, Ph.D., ABPP, ABPdN , is a triple board certified and licensed clinical and forensic neuropsychologist, a tenured associate professor at Pepperdine University, and published author.

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COMMENTS

  1. The Association Between Teacher Attachment Style and Student Engagement

    Walden University 2021. Abstract The Association Between Teacher Attachment Style and Student Engagement by Susan Bonnell. MA, Walden University, 2010 BS, Northern Arizona University, 1990. Dissertation Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy Clinical Psychology.

  2. PDF It's all about relationships: the role of adult attachment style and

    It's all about relationships: the role of adult attachment style and locus of control in predicting aggression and the likelihood of a person accommodating and reacting constructively to perceived negative events in intimate relationships. Helen Niccolls Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of Staffordshire

  3. PDF A thesis submitted to The University of Manchester for the degree of

    Adult Attachment and Psychotherapy A thesis submitted to The University of Manchester for the degree of Doctor in Clinical Psychology in the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences 2012 Julia Rietzschel ... are discussed and ideas for future research are outlined. 8 Declaration

  4. A Phenomenological Study of Attachment and Juvenile Justice Involvement

    Walden Dissertations and Doctoral Studies Walden Dissertations and Doctoral Studies Collection 2021 A Phenomenological Study of Attachment and Juvenile Justice Involvement Amanda Jean Gibson ... attachment between the father and son, and how it also influenced the sons' involvement

  5. PDF Humility and Attachment Style in Adult Romantic Relationships

    attached adults have more satisfying and well-functioning intimate relationships (Feeney, 1999. for a review) and are more willing to remain in a relationship and work through conflicts. (Lawler-Row, Younger, Piferi, & Jones, 2006). Clearly, attachment style and humility play important roles in romantic relationships—.

  6. An Exploratory Study of Attachment Styles and Their Relationship to

    A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTERS OF ARTS IN PSYCHOLOGY UNIVERSITY OF RHODE ISLAND . 1998 . Abstract . Since its inception, adult attachment theory . has . been used to identify individual differences within a wide range of interpersonal and intra-personal phenomena. Reviews

  7. How Play Therapists Integrate Knowledge of Attachment Theory Into

    awesome dissertation! You inspired me to complete this dissertation; without your hard work, this dissertation may not have existed. To Angela, my doctoral "partner-in-crime", thank you for believing in me and supporting me throughout this journey. I am fortunate to know you and to have shared many counseling 'firsts' with you.

  8. (PDF) Attachment Styles and Self-Esteem

    The aim of this thesis is to investigate such topics like attachment theory created by John Bowlby and the self-esteem concept which Rosenberg's definition is the most accurate and commonly used ...

  9. Understanding the Impact of Adolescent Attachment on Academic Success

    school mental health professionals would serve as facilitators and models of mentalizing. for students, teachers and families (Malberg, 2012). Mentalization based therapy would be designed to: (1) Reactivate the attachment. system; (2) develop/restore the capacity for thinking about feelings, distinguish between.

  10. PDF Attachment Styles, Resource Control Strategies and A ...

    The quantitative data was collected by four self-report measures, which assessed explicit achievement motive, attachment styles, resource control strategies and adjustment to college (methods). The qualitative data was collected using a projective test, which assessed implicit achievement motive (methods).

  11. THE IMPACT OF ATTACHMENT ON ADULT RELATIONSHIPS A graduate thesis

    The purpose of this project was to review attachment theory and the impact of attachment on adult relationships. A workshop was then developed using this data to address the influence attachment holds in relational distress. The design of the review looks at attachment from infancy stages on into adulthood; examining the various accompanying

  12. Full article: Taking perspective on attachment theory and research

    How should attachment security be assessed? As different measures of attachment have been developed and validated, broader methodological strategies have emerged, ranging from narrative interviews to self-report measures to attachment script-based assessments to priming methods, and more (see, Waters et al., Citation 2021).The fundamental question here is whether or not there is a central ...

  13. The association between attachment-related trauma and adult

    The association between attachment-related trauma and adult representations of attachment and the role of maternal mental health Syreeta Scott ... This Open Access Dissertation is brought to you for free and open access by the Master's Theses, and Doctoral Dissertations, and Graduate Capstone Projects at DigitalCommons@EMU. It has been accepted ...

  14. (PDF) A QUALITATIVE REVIEW OF ATTACHMENT THEORY AND ITS ...

    We discuss implications for understanding children's narrative styles across discourse topics as well as the significance of the results for using attachment interviews in this age range ...

  15. Using attachment theory as a lens to understand the role of an adult

    The attachment theory created by John Bowlby has had a lasting impact on our understanding of child development and more recently on adult development. The primary aim of this dissertation is to show how attachment theory can be used as a tool to inform educators about teaching and learning. There is an abundance of literature on attachment from infancy to adulthood, incorporating all forms of ...

  16. Attachment Theory: Seven Unresolved Issues and Questions for Future

    Attachment theory, a now-classic set of ideas about how infants form social-emotional relationships with their caregivers, was developed in the mid-20th century by Bowlby (1969), a child analyst in...

  17. PDF Attachment to Ideas: The status of attachment theory in psychoanalytic

    The psychoanalytic critiques of attachment theory were sometimes based on. misapprehension, sometimes perhaps prejudiced, or poorly informed about the empirical. observations that this body of ideas has generated. The same criticisms can equally well be applied to early attachment theory.

  18. THE INFLUENCE OF ATTACHMENT STYLES ON STUDENT'S SELF ...

    was the major influence on the student's attachment style (factor loading=.883, p < 0.001). Moreover, attachment style contributed 15.6% towards student's self-directed learning. It i s hoped ...

  19. Attachment Theory: A Barrier for Indigenous Children Involved with

    Attachment Theory was never meant to be used as the basis of child protection decision-making. Indeed, the leading researchers in attachment theory have made that clear [46,47]. Attachment has been used to incorrectly determine that, once a child is placed in a foster (to adopt) or longer-term placement, the child cannot move.

  20. Marriage and Family Therapy Theses and Dissertations

    Theses/Dissertations from 2019 PDF. Attachment and Relationship Quality: A Longitudinal Cross-Lagged Panel Model Examining the Association of Attachment Styles and Relationship Quality in Married Couples, Meagan Cahoon Alder. PDF. Coding Rupture Indicators in Couple Therapy (CRICT): An Observational Coding Scheme, AnnaLisa Ward Carr. PDF

  21. Attachment Theory Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

    Attachment Theory: Term Definition. Bowlby proposed that a two month-old attachment is made up of a number of component instinctual responses that have the function of binding the infant to the mother and the mother to the infant. Secure Attachment in Psychological Theories. One of the tasks is to examine the effects of temperamental, medical ...

  22. Dissertations / Theses: 'Adult Attachment Patterns'

    Relevant bibliographies by topics / Adult Attachment Patterns / Dissertations / Theses. Dissertations / Theses on the topic 'Adult Attachment Patterns' To see the ... The purpose of this thesis was to examine adult attachment patterns and ethnic experience and the relationship on social competence. There are limited studies that have examined ...

  23. Attachment Theory Essays: Examples, Topics, & Outlines

    Attachment theory offers an explanation of the manner in which the relationship between the parent and the child emerges and how it impacts subsequent development (McLeod, 2009; Bretherton, 1992). Attachment theory is the field of psychology emerged from the influential work of John Bowlby in 1958.

  24. How to Heal Anxious Attachment by Prioritizing Your…

    At its most basic level, attachment refers to the first emotional bond that forms between you and your primary caregiver(s). This first crucial bond, designed to keep you alive and thriving during a time when you can't possibly care for yourself, sets the stage for the development of who you are, what you believe (particularly about yourself), and how you will interact with others, according ...