Attachment style

Levy N. Kenneth, Johnson N. Benjamin, Gooch V. Caroline, Yogev Kivity

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Attachment theory, originally developed by John Bowlby to explain human bonding, has profound implications for conducting and adapting psychotherapy. The concept of attachment style derives from Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth's attachment theory and refers to a person's characteristic ways of relating in intimate care giving and receiving relationships, particularly with one's parents, children, and romantic partner. Adult attachment has-been examined in psychotherapy research as both an outcome variable and a moderator of treatment outcome. This chapter examines the relation between clients' attachment styles and their success in psychotherapy (outcome) and whether certain attachment styles prove more effective with certain types of psychotherapy (moderator). It reviews definitions and measures of attachment and provides clinical examples of attachment patterns in psychotherapy. The chapter draws an overall conclusion about the relation between attachment and treatment outcome, it presents a meta-analysis of the research on the association between clients' pretreatment attachment style, change in attachment, and psychotherapy outcome, as well as an examination of potential moderators of these effects. The chapter concludes with limitations of the extant research, diversity considerations, training implications, and therapeutic practices based on the meta-analytic findings. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationPsychotherapy relationships that work
Subtitle of host publicationEvidence-based therapist responsiveness
EditorsJ. C. Norcross, B. E. Wampold
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages41
Edition3th ed.
ISBN (Print)9780190843960
StatePublished - 2019


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