The postulates of attachment theory were developed by and John Bowlby. The author created a comprehensive approach to perceiving individual development based on concepts from numerous fields of research, including second-order cybernetics, psychoanalysis, developmental psychology, ethology, etc. (Blakely and Dziadosz 284). Due to incorporating different theoretical frameworks, attachment theory is as well applicable to improving outcomes in different aspects of care and professional aid. Therefore, the central objective of the paper at hand is to investigate the fundamental concepts of the attachment theory concepts and review the main fields of its application.
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Attachment Theory: Fundamentals
The central assumption of the theory is that all people act in accordance with a particular behavioral attachment that affects their life choice and motivates them to seek proximity with other humans. These behavioral patterns are formed in infancy and are hardly changed throughout life. Therefore, a caregiver creates a worldview of an infant – a specific set of internal beliefs that identify the working models of the world and appropriate relationships with other people (Burke et al. 135). All in all, relationships in an individual’s family, as well as the closest social ties, have a direct influence on determining the concepts of security and insecurity that later impact one’s ability to create social bonds (Sahdra and Shaver 284).
Based on the differences in an initial relationship in a family or with a caregiver, there are different attachment styles. To identify them, it is essential to note that they are shaped under the influence of a caregiver and the volume of satisfying child’s attachment needs. As for the attachment needs, they stand for feeling special, loved, supported, protected, and loved. That being said, satisfying these needs in a sensitive way is associated with the establishment of a secure attachment. It is related to the future ability to build adaptive bonds, become independent, and feel positive about one’s self. On the other hand, failing to satisfy attachment needs or ignoring them is commonly connected to developing insecure attachments so that an individual’s style is avoidant or anxious.
In either case, the person feels insecure, unconfident, and cannot cope with stress due to feeling vulnerable and unsupported in the early childhood (Blakely and Dziadosz 284; Burke et al. 135). Still, there are some differences between two styles. For instance, the avoidant attachment is characterized by the desire to remain emotionally distant and escaping from close relationships. As for anxious attachment style, its main feature is the fear of rejection, but still the desire to have close relationships (Sahdra and Shaver 286; O’Gorman 5). Finally, there is one more insecure attachment – ambivalent – characterized by a negative perception of one’s self and positive view of others. It is connected to inconsistencies in building one’s relationships (Blakely and Dziadosz 285).
Attachment Theory in Mental Health Services
Attachment theory is helpful for delivering high-quality mental health services. It can be explained by the introduction of more efficient interventions and adequate allocation of health care resources based on one’s peculiarities of attachment styles that identify their treatment needs (Bucci et al. 1). In this case, the main challenge is to guarantee that patient’s attachment needs are satisfied and relevantly addressed regardless of one’s age and background. More than that, identifying the peculiarities of individual’s attachment styles is valuable for determining the causes of mental health problems, treating them or even minimizing the risks of these concerns or their complications (Burke et al. 142).
Attachment Theory and Clinical and Social Work Practice
The concepts of attachment theory are helpful for addressing specific needs of patients and clients. It is beneficial in both clinical and social work practice. The idea is that professional workers develop one’s social history and incorporate it into designing a patient-centered approach to treatment. More than that, it may be helpful for planning the most efficient interventions because of one’s ability to create secure bonds with caregivers. Finally, it is generally connected to improving health outcomes when a patient and care professional build a team. However, to achieve this objective, it is critical to understand the specificities of one’s attachment styles – broadly apply the concepts of attachment theory (Blakely and Dziadosz 285-286).
Attachment Theory and Family Therapy
One more field for applying attachment theory is family therapy. In this case, the value of the theory is evident because it may be beneficial for altering the way parents address child’s attachment needs, thus improving the overall atmosphere in a family and helping a child develop secure attachment that will benefit their future life and relationships. However, in this instance, it is critical to point to the fact that effective family treatment is lengthy because it is impossible to identify all specificities of family patterns and interactions over a short period (O’Gorman 14).
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To sum up, attachment theory is one of the most useful and effective ways to improve the overall quality of provided care and patients’ health outcomes. Even though achieving this objective is a challenge, it is possible if the specificities of individual’s attachment style are clearly understood. That being said, the ability to determine one’s attachment style is what affects not only treatment but also creating opportunities for addressing the most critical health care concerns.
Blakely, Thomas Joseph, and Gregory M. Dziadosz. “Application of Attachment Theory in Clinical Social Work.” Health and Social Work, vol. 40, no. 4, 2015, pp. 283-289.
Bucci, Sandra, et al. “Using Attachment Theory to Inform the Design and Delivery of Mental Health Services: A Systematic Review of the Literature.” Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, vol. 88, no. 1, 2015, pp. 1-20.
Burke, Eilish, et al. “A Qualitative Exploration of the Use of Attachment Theory in Adult Psychological Therapy.” Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, vol. 23, no. 2, 2016, pp. 142-154.
O’Gorman, Shannon. “Attachment Theory, Family System Theory, and the Child Presenting with Significant Behavioral Concerns.” Journal of Systemic Therapies, vol. 31, no. 3, 2012, pp. 1-16.
Sahdra, Baljinder K., and Phillip R. Shaver. “Comparing Attachment Theory and Buddhist Psychology.” International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, vol. 23, no. 4, 2013, pp. 282-293.