Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 81–95 | Cite as

Conventional and Unconventional Perspectives on Attachment and Attachment Problems: Comparisons and Implications, 2006–2016

  • Jean MercerEmail author


A task force report published 10 years ago (Chaffin et al., Child Maltreatment 11:76–89, 2006) cautioned strongly against potentially harmful unconventional principles and practices related to assessment and treatment of childhood attachment problems. In an exploration of changes over a decade in such assessment and treatment, the present paper reports results of a search for material about attachment problems in children done by means of Academic Search Complete and Google, and by examination of specific websites. The paper examines print and Internet publications on both conventional and unconventional approaches to attachment problems as they have appeared since the 2006 report. The contrast between conventional and unconventional perspectives remained at least as clear in 2016 as it was in 2006. Changes in conventional views of assessment, treatment, research, and theory about attachment have apparently had little influence on unconventional approaches, nor has the reverse occurred. Most of the principles and practices against which Chaffin et al. warned remain in place and may influence families and some mental health professionals. Understanding the contrast between the two perspectives, and the continuing possible effect of unconventional methods, can be advantageous for psychologists and social workers working with children or parents and for those involved with the courts.


Attachment problems Attachment disorders Childhood mental health Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder Reactive Attachment Disorder 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by the author.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stockton UniversityGallowayUSA

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