Attachment and Dynamic Practice

Attachment and Dynamic Practice: An Integrative Guide for Social Workers and Other Clinicians

Jerrold R. Brandell
Shoshana Ringel
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Attachment and Dynamic Practice
    Book Description:

    Contemporary attachment theory both enriches our understanding of human development and informs clinical practice. Examining the relational bonds between young children and their caregivers, it traces its origins to several scientific and social fields, most notably psychoanalysis, social work, behaviorism, ethology, evolutionary theory, and biology.

    The first portion of this book examines attachment theory and its relationship to other psychodynamic theories of development and then discusses the landmark contributions of John Bowlby, the "father" of modern attachment theory. The section concludes with a detailed summary of research on attachment, highlighting the work of Mary Ainsworth, Mary Main, Allan Sroufe, and Peter Fonagy. The second portion focuses on clinical applications with children, adolescents, and adults. Brief vignettes and lengthier case illustrations consider a verity of attachment disorders and treatment approaches, paying special attention to clinical method and technique, process dimensions, and transference and countertransference phenomena. Cases are set in a range of treatment venues, such as college and family counseling service, community mental health centers, and private practice, and involve an ethnoculturally and clinically diverse clientele.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50855-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xvi)

    Attachment theory is rooted in observational studies that seek to examine the relational bonds between young children and their caregivers, typically mothers. Over time, researchers have established that children’s affectional bonds with their caregivers are rooted in psychological, as well as biological, motives. Attachment studies across cultures have found that children seek a primary attachment with one caregiver and that most children are securely attached. Moreover, with the advance of attachment research, it has been discovered that childhood attachment patterns affect later adult personality styles and that children frequently develop an attachment style similar to that of their parents.


  5. ONE Beginnings: Early Conceptions of the Mother-Infant Relationship
    (pp. 1-28)

    Even before the formalization of John Bowlby’s attachment theory in the late 1950s and 1960s, others had attributed importance to this concept and had begun to explore its characteristics. Konrad Lorenz, a fundamental figure in the field of ethology (the scientific study of animal behavior), whose work will be summarized in chapter 2, was one such theorist. A number of psychoanalysts, among them Freudian disciple Sandor Ferenczi and pioneering child psychoanalyst Melanie Klein, were also interested in the nature of the relations between parents and infants, a theoretical precursor to the idea of attachment. Klein’s theories, controversial as they were,...

  6. TWO Bowlby’s Theory of Attachment
    (pp. 29-52)

    The landmark contributions of John Bowlby, the “father” of modern attachment theory, evolved over time, culminating in the publication of his three seminal publications, Attachment, Separation, and Loss, between 1969 and 1982. Because of his reliance on biology, evolutionary theory, and animal studies, and because he challenged the prevailing dynamic conceptions for the earliest relations between infants and mothers, Bowlby became alienated from the psychoanalytic establishment of his day.

    Bowlby’s early papers on such topics as separation, the nature of infantile attachment, and grief and mourning in childhood reveal his most important ideas. Having discussed the contributions and influence of...

  7. THREE Contemporary Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Attachment
    (pp. 53-78)

    Bowlby’s theoretical conception of attachment represented a highly original and substantively unique paradigm for understanding the psychological and social development of human infants, as well as the short- and longer-term sequelae of failures in attachment. His ideas have also been highly generative, leading to a vast scientific literature that now encompasses several different disciplinary domains. Moreover, unlike many psychoanalytic developmental concepts, Bowlby’s attachment theory is regarded by many social scientists as eminently researchable. His ideas also reflect the influence of his psychoanalytic predecessors and the British object relations tradition with which he identified. Bowlby’s unique contribution appears to have resulted...

  8. FOUR Research on Attachment
    (pp. 79-104)

    Since Bowlby’s earliest investigations in the 1950s, research interest in the varieties of attachment behavior and their relationships to normal and pathological development has increased exponentially. This chapter focuses on the work done in the area of human attachment, including studies of children, adolescents, and adults. We will review the contributions of prominent empirical researchers in the attachment field and address in greater detail the work of psychoanalytic researchers. Along with current attachment research, we will look at new findings in neuroscience as well, in order to highlight the biological underpinnings of attachment theory. Finally, we will consider attachment and...

  9. FIVE Children
    (pp. 105-134)

    Recent years have brought increasing interest in translating the now-considerable body of research on human attachment into clinical terms. This chapter will focus specifically on what contributions attachment theory makes to our understanding of child psychopathology and how it may serve as a guide in the clinical assessment and treatment of children. Are existing conceptions of childhood psychopathology enhanced through an understanding of attachment? Does attachment theory offer a unique lens that may be used to understand the process of therapy with children, or does it go even further, furnishing the clinician with a distinctive model for the conduct of...

  10. SIX Adolescents
    (pp. 135-158)

    This chapter examines how clinical practice with adolescent clients is informed by attachment concepts. A second, and related, concern is how childhood attachment patterns play out in adolescence and interface with adolescent developmental tasks. Through vignettes¹ that illustrate various clinical issues with adolescents from different practice venues, a clinical perspective that incorporates an understanding of attachment behavior in adolescent clients is presented. The discussion begins with a summary of the basic developmental tasks of adolescence.

    Adolescence is a time of biological changes that include the development of secondary sexual characteristics, growing cognitive abilities such as abstract reasoning and logic (Piaget,...

  11. SEVEN Adults
    (pp. 159-182)

    This chapter will examine adult disorders of attachment and how these may correspond to discrete forms of psychopathology or to particular character disturbances. Other topics for investigation are the role of an adult client’s particular attachment style within the treatment relationship or in the transference-countertransference dynamics; general practice principles that attachment-oriented clinicians follow; and the effect of diversity considerations such as race and disability on patterns of attachment and transference-countertransference dynamics.

    Each case illustration, selected from a broad spectrum, will include historical antecedents, characteristic behaviors, cognition and feeling states, the impact of attachment styles on the therapeutic relationship, and a...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 183-188)
  13. References
    (pp. 189-202)
  14. Index
    (pp. 203-208)