Policy Implications of Attachment Processes in Adulthood: Caregiving and Family Preservation

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


Attachment theory originated from Bowlby’s (1969/1982) clinical observations about the real life experiences of institutionalized children, and the initial policy changes that emerged out of his concerns focused on improving child care (Rutter, 2008). In collaboration with his social work colleague, John Robertson, Bowlby’s early work had major impact on public health when his analysis of Robertson’s films of hospitalized children was presented to the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1951. Public policy was eventually altered in response to the presentation’s emphasis on the negative reactions of children separated from parents for medical treatment or residential care (Bowlby, 1951; Robertson & Robertson, 1971). Subsequent attachment research has continued to influence the development of child welfare policies over the past half century (Rutter, 2008), and primary focus has remained on the needs of children. Little attention has been given to the attachment needs of adults, yet all family policies inevitably affect the emotional well-being and attachment systems of adults as well. This chapter highlights the interface of attachment and current social welfare policies from the standpoint of adults.


Child Welfare Foster Care Attachment Style Attachment Relationship Military Family 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Smith College School for Social WorkNorthamptonUSA

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