Mary Ainsworth is a clinical psychologist who is most well-known for her contribution to developing the attachment theory. The focus of her research was early development attachment that a child may have with a primary caregiver. Her most cited contribution was the Strange Situation process, which was an assessment to measure and classify levels of attachment between an infant and a mother.
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The attachment bond was unique and described as long-lasting, emotionally salient, and specific to the primary caregiver. Ainsworth observed behavioral characteristics in various scenarios when the subjects were separated. Three distinct dimensions of attachment were identified, and namely, secure, anxious avoidant, and anxious-resistant. The organizational construct of attachment stability and flexibility in behavior has since become an integral concept in developmental theory (Gross, Stern, Brett, & Cassidy, 2015).
The attachment theory would be useful for this project because it possesses unique characteristics for a theoretical psychological concept. It has direct clinical relevance based on biological concepts and it withstands empirical scrutiny. The theory is a cross-cultural concept, focusing on contextual influences on behavior and critical relationships that form as a result. Ainsworth’s research is used in integrative treatment mentoring programs for “hard-to-reach” adolescents with multiple morbidities to help them formulate trust and security (Bevington, Fuggle, & Fonagy, 2015). It is also used in adult psychological therapy to identify types of attachment styles and the way it impacts relationships.
Attachment theory is helpful in clinical settings by offering a framework to determine adjustment patterns in critically ill patients. For patients with oncological conditions, a period of adjustment occurs that leads to individual coping mechanisms to become activated, both cognitive and behavioral. This causes social, emotional, and physical challenges that may extend into psychological distress with adverse outcomes for patients ranging from decreased quality of life to a negative prognosis regarding treatment.
Adjustment occurs within the context of attachment, which is a natural aspect of human relationships seeking security within others. However, maladaptive patterns are often noticed in oncological patients, either exhibiting hyperactive attention or complete withdrawal. As a result, it may result in vulnerabilities to stress and clinical depression (Nicholls, Hubert-Williams, & Bramwell, 2014).
A relevant topic of discussion for mid-range theories would be how to implement theory guided into contemporary hospital settings that operate evidence-based and scientific approaches. Should there be a balance between theory-guided and evidence-based practice or do traditional nursing theories no longer apply modern healthcare?
Bevington, D., Fuggle, P., & Fonagy, P. (2015). Applying attachment theory to effective practice with hard-to-reach youth: The AMBIT approach. Attachment & Human Development, 17(2), 157-174. Web.
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Gross, J. T., Stern, J. A., Brett, B. E., & Cassidy, J. (2017). The multifaceted nature of prosocial behavior in children: Links with attachment theory and research. Social Development, 26(4), 661-678. Web.
Nicholls, W., Hulbert-Williams, N., & Bramwell, R. (2014). The role of relationship attachment in psychological adjustment to cancer in patients and caregivers: A systematic review of literature. Psycho-Oncology, 23(10), 1083-1095. Web.