Attachment Theory

Principle 8 – Understanding Attachment Theory and Its Everyday Relevance


All our twelve principles are underpinned with research and theory. None more so than this one. Principle 8 is about attachment theory which is key to understanding who we are and what motivates our behaviours. If we are committed to relationship-based practice then we need to take the time to get to know each other and to know ourselves and what we bring to each of our relationships. Attachment theory focuses on relationships and bonds, it is a psychological explanation for the emotional bonds and relationships between people.

British psychologist John Bowlby was the first attachment theorist. He described attachment as a “… lasting psychological connectedness between human beings.”

Each of us carries our unique history and the intergenerational patterns from our own families which comes with us and is transmitted through our behaviour and relationships with others.

Dr Patricia Crittenden highlights the significance and value for workers in a helping role of becoming a ‘transitional attachment figure’, helping someone in a vulnerable position by ‘holding someone’s hand’ and meeting them where they are so that they can take tentative steps towards their own healing.

We want to use attachment theory in a real, on the ground way that is part of our everyday interactions and helps us to provide what people need, whilst recognising that attachment patterns and behaviours driven by our unique history apply to all of us, no matter what our role within our community.


“Attachment is a unifying principle that reaches from the biological depths of our being to its furthest spiritual reaches.” Jeremy Holmes

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