Adult Attachment in Clinical Social Work

Practice, Research, and Policy

  • Susanne Bennett
  • Judith Kay Nelson

Part of the Essential Clinical Social Work Series book series (ECSWS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Theory Development Regarding Adult Attachment

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 15-15
    2. Susanne Bennett, Judith Kay Nelson
      Pages 1-14
  3. Theory Development Regarding Adult Attachment

  4. Applications to Adult Clinical Practice

  5. Attachment Applications to Policy, Research, and Education

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 193-193
    2. Joanna E. Bettmann, Rachael A. Jasperson
      Pages 217-252
    3. Susanne Bennett, Kathleen Holtz Deal
      Pages 253-265
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 267-271

About this book


As John Bowlby’s studies of human attachment revolutionized developmental psychology in the 1960s, adult attachment concepts have similarly transformed social work in recent years, leading to a generation of innovative attachment-based clinical practice. Adult Attachment in Clinical Social Work highlights social work’s contributions to attachment theory and research and the potential of these contributions to enhance clinical practice, inform social policy, and further empirical investigations.

Designed for readers new to adult attachment, as well as those familiar with it, this book examines the current state of the field, reviewing assessment measures and research methods, summarizing new findings and ongoing controversies, and clarifying terms toward a common language. Clinical applications in individual, family, and group contexts are featured, with case examples from various populations and settings demonstrating the practical utility of the theory and its application to cross-cultural treatment. Later chapters move beyond discrete cases to attachment issues that impact society as a whole (e.g., adoption, elder care) and training issues that affect future generations of clinicians. Among the topics covered:

•Separation, loss, and grief in adults •The impact of neurobiology on affect regulation •Applications of attachment concepts to interventions with at-risk families of young children, adolescents, and elder adults •Clinical approaches for hard-to-reach individual clients and adults in group settings •The function of attachment in both familial and professional caregiving •Policy implications of adult attachment relevant to family preservation

Adult Attachment in Clinical Social Work is an essential text, breaking new ground in the attachment literature with immediate relevance for professionals and scholars in clinical social work and related mental health professions.


affect arousal attachment attunement caregiving couples families mentalization regulation theory social work

Editors and affiliations

  • Susanne Bennett
    • 1
  • Judith Kay Nelson
    • 2
  1. 1., National Catholic School for Social ServThe Catholic University of AmericaWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Sanville InstituteBerkeleyUSA

Bibliographic information