Attachment in the Family Context: Insights from Development and Clinical Work

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

Abstract

The formation of stable relational bonds that function to provide security and ­support developmental growth is described as a primary task of family development across cultures (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978; Bowlby, 1969/1982; Posada et al., 2002; Rothbaum, Rosen, Ujiie, & Uchida, 2002). Secure attachment bonds acquired within the family system confer developmental advantages on family members by providing safety, emotional security, adaptive mechanisms for the regulation of affective experience, the mediation of stress, and support for the development of autonomy and identity (Akister & Reibstein, 2004; Johnson, 2004; Schore & Schore, 2008; Siegel, 2001). Research on attachment relationships in families emphasizes the quality of ­psychological ties – whether secure or insecure – within the family as a more important mediator of developmental well-being than the particular structure of the family context (Shapiro, Shapiro, & Paret, 2001). This literature is particularly relevant to social work practitioners who seek to bring a strengths perspective to work with nontraditional families or parents and children in a broad range of social contexts and situations.

Keywords

Foster Care Attachment Theory Intergenerational Transmission Family Context Adolescent Mother 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Ainsworth, M., Blehar, M., Waters, E., & Wall, S. (1978). Patterns of attachment: A psychological study of the strange situation. Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  2. Akister, J., & Reibstein, J. (2004). Links between attachment theory and systemic practice: Some proposals. Journal of Family Therapy, 26, 2–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Allen, J., & Manning, N. (2007). From safety to affect regulation: Attachment from the vantage point of adolescence. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 117, 23–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Allen, J., McElhaney, K., Kuperminc, G., & Jodl, K. (2004). Stability and change in attachment security across adolescence. Child Development, 75(6), 1792–1805.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. (2005). Practice parameter for the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with reactive attachment disorder of infancy and early childhood. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 44(11), 1206–1220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Applegate, J., & Shapiro, J. (2005). Neurobiology for clinical social work: Theory and Practice. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  7. Bowlby, J. (1969/1982). Attachment and loss (Vol. 1). New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  8. Byng-Hall, J. (1995). Creating a more secure family base: Some implications of attachment theory for family therapy. Family Process, 34, 45–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Campbell, S., Cohn, J., & Neyers, T. (1995). Depression in first-time mothers: Mother-infant interaction and depression chronicity. Developmental Psychology, 31, 349–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Carter, S., Osofsky, J. D., & Hann, D. M. (1991). Speaking for baby: Therapeutic interventions with adolescent mothers and their infants. Infant Mental Health Journal, 12, 291–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cassidy, J., & Shaver, P. (Eds.). (1999). Handbook of attachment: Theory, research and practice. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  12. Chasnoff, I., Anson, A., Hatcher, R., Stenson, H., Iaukea, K., & Randolph, L. (1998). Parental exposure to cocaine and other drugs: Outcome at four to six years. In J. Harvey & B. Kosofsky (Eds.), Cocaine: Effects on the developing brain (pp. 314–328). New York: Annals of the New York Academy of Science.Google Scholar
  13. Davies, D. (2004). Child development: A practitioner’s guide (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  14. Davies, D. (2006). Parent–child therapy for traumatized young children in foster care. In R. Lee & J. Whting (Eds.), Handbook of relational therapy for foster children and their families. Washington: Child Welfare League of America.Google Scholar
  15. Dawson, S., Frey, K., Self, J., Panagiotides, D., Hessl, D., Yamada, E., et al. (1999). Frontal brain electrical activity in infants of depressed and nondepressed mothers: Relation to variations in infant behavior. Development and Psychopathology, 11, 589–605.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dawson, S., Grofer-Klinger, L., Panagiotides, H., Hilld, D., Spieker, S., & Frey, K. (1992). Infants of mothers with depressive symptoms: Electrophysiological and behavioral findings related to attachment status. Development and Psychopathology, 4, 67–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Diamond, G. (2005). Attachment-based family therapy for depression: Theory and case study. The Family Psychologist, 21(2), 4–9.Google Scholar
  18. Diamond, G., Siqueland, L., & Diamond, G. M. (2003). Attachment-based family therapy for depressed adolescents: Programmatic treatment development. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 6(2), 107–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dozier, M. (2005). Challenges of foster care. Attachment and Human Development, 7, 27–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dozier, M., Albus, K., Fisher, P., & Sepulveda, S. (2002). Interventions for foster parents: Implications for developmental theory. Development and Psychopathology, 14, 843–860.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dozier, M., Dozier, D., & Manni, M. (2002). Recognizing the special needs of infants’ and toddlers’ foster parents: Development of a relational intervention. Zero to Three Bulletin, 22, 7–13.Google Scholar
  22. Dozier, M., Manni, M., Gordon, M. K., Peloso, E., Gunnar, M. R., Stovall-McClough, K., Eldreth, D., & Levine, S. (2006). Foster children’s diurnal production of cortisol: An experimental study. Child Maltreatment, Vol. 11, 189–197.Google Scholar
  23. Dozier, M., Stovall, K. C., Albus, K. E., & Bates, B. (2001). Attachment for infants in foster care: The role of caregiver state of mind. Child Development, 72, 1467–1477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Field, T. (1995). Infants of depressed mothers. Infant Behavior and Development, 18, 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fonagy, P., Steele, H., Moran, G., Steele, M., & Higgitt, A. (1991). The capacity for understanding mental states: The reflective self in parent and child and its significance for security of attachment. Infant Mental Health Journal, 13, 200–217.Google Scholar
  26. Fonagy, P., & Target, M. (1998). Mentalization and the changing aims of child psychoanalysis. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 8, 87–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Fraiberg, S., Adelson, E., & Shapiro, V. (1975). Ghosts in the nursery: A psychoanalytic approach to the problems of impaired mother-infant relationships. Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 14, 387–421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. George, C., & Solomon, J. (2008). The caregiving system. In J. Cassidy & P. Shaver (Eds.), The handbook of attachment: Theory, research, and clinical applications (2nd ed., pp. 833–856). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  29. Greenspan, S. I., & Porges, S. W. (1984). Psychopathology in infancy and early childhood: Clinical perspectives on the organization of sensory and affective-thematic experience. Child Development, 55, 49–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Gunnar, M., Bruce, R., & Grotevant, H. (2000). International adoption of institutionally reared children: Research and policy. Development and Psychopathology, 12, 677–694.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hamilton, C. (2000). Continuity and discontinuity of attachment from infancy through adolescence. Child Development, 71, 690–694.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hesse, E. (1999). The adult attachment interview: Historical and current perspectives. In J. Cassidy & P. Shaver (Eds.), Handbook of attachment: Theory, research and clinical applications (pp. 395–433). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  33. Hogue, A., Liddle, H., Becker, D., & Johnson-Leckrone, J. (2002). Family based prevention counseling for high risk young adolescents: Immediate outcomes. Journal of Community Psychology, 30(1), 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hughes, D. (2007). Attachment-focused family therapy. New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
  35. Johnson, S., & Whiffen, V. (Eds.). (2003). Attachment processes in couple and family therapy. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  36. Johnson, S. M. (2004). The practice of emotionally focused couples therapy: Creating connection. New York: Brunner-Routledge.Google Scholar
  37. Liddle, H. A., & Hogue, A. T. (2000). A family-based, developmental-ecological preventive intervention for high-risk adolescents. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 26(3), 265–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lieberman, A. (2004). Child-parent psychotherapy: A relationship-based approach to the treatment of mental health disorders in infancy and early childhood. In A. Sameroff, S. McDonough, & K. Rosenblum (Eds.), Treating parent-infant relationship problems: Strategies for intervention (pp. 97–122). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  39. Lieberman, A. F. (2003). The treatment of attachment disorder in infancy and early childhood: Reflections from clinical intervention with later-adopted foster care children. Attachment and Human Development, 5(3), 279–282.Google Scholar
  40. Liberman, A. F., Van Horn, P., Ippen, C. G. (2005). Toward evidence-based treatment: Child-parent psychotherapy with preschoolers exposed to marital violence. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 44(12), 1241–1248.Google Scholar
  41. Lyons-Ruth, K., Bronfman, E., & Parsons, E. (1999). Maternal frightened, frightening or atypical behavior and disorganized attachment patterns. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 64, 67–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Madigan, S., Moran, G., & Pederson, D. R. (2006). Unresolved states of mind, disorganized attachment relationships, and disrupted mother-infant interactions of adolescent mothers and their infants. Developmental Psychology, 4(2), 293–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Main, M., Kaplan, N., & Cassidy, J. (1985). Security in infancy, childhood and adulthood: A move to the level of representation. In I. Bretherton & E. Waters (Eds.), Growing points of attachment theory and research. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 50, 66–104.Google Scholar
  44. Main, M., & Solomon, J. (1990). Procedures for identifying infants as disorganized/disoriented during the Ainsworth strange situation. In T. Greenberg, D. Cicchetti, & E. Cummings (Eds.), Attachment in the preschool years: Theory, research and intervention (pp. 121–160). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  45. McEwen, B. S., & Seeman, T. (2003). Stress and affect: Applicability of the concepts of allostasis and allostatic load. In R. J. Davidson, K. R. Scherer, & H. H. Goldsmith (Eds.), Handbook of affective sciences (pp. 1117–1137). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Mikulincer, M., & Shaver, P. (2009). Attachment in adulthood. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  47. National Clearinghouse for Child Abuse and Neglect. (1993). Child abuse: Intervention and treatment issues. Washington: Department of Health and Human Services.Google Scholar
  48. Oppenheim, D., & Goldsmith, D. (Eds.). (2007). Attachment theory in clinical work with children: Bridging the gap between research and practice. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  49. Osofsky, J., Eberhart-Wright, A., Ware, L., & Hann, D. (1992). Children of adolescent mothers: A group at risk for psychopathology. Infant Mental Health Journal, 13(2), 119–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Perry, B. (2002). Childhood experience and the expression of genetic potential: What childhood neglect tells us about nature and nurture. Brain and Mind, 3, 79–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Perry, B. (2004). Neurobiological sequelae of childhood trauma: Post-traumatic stress disorders in children. In M. Murberg (Ed.), Catecholamine function in post-traumatic stress disorder: Emerging concepts (pp. 233–255). Washington: American Psychiatric Press.Google Scholar
  52. Posada, G., Jacobs, A., Richmond, M., Carbonell, O., Alzate, G., Bustamante, M., et al. (2002). Maternal caregiving and infant security in two cultures. Developmental Psychology, 38, 67–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Rothbaum, F., Rosen, K., Ujiie, T., & Uchida, N. (2002). Family systems theory, attachment theory and culture. Family Process, 41(3), 328–350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Rothbaum, F., Rosen, K., Ujiie, T., & Uchida, N. (2004). Family systems theory, attachment theory and culture. Family Process, 41(3), 328–350.Google Scholar
  55. Rutter, M. (2000). Clinical implications of attachment concepts: Retrospect and prospect. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 36, 1179–1198.Google Scholar
  56. Schore, A. (2001). Effects of a secure attachment relationship on right brain development, affect regulation and infant mental health. Infant Mental Health Journal, 22, 7–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Schore, A. (2004). Affect regulation and the organization of self: The neurobiology of emotional development. Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  58. Schore, A., & Schore, J. (2008). Modern attachment theory: The central role of affect regulation in development and treatment. Clinical Social Work Journal, 36, 9–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Shapiro, J. (2009). The developmental context of adolescent motherhood. In N. Farber (Ed.), Adolescent pregnancy: Policy and prevention services (pp. 38–52). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  60. Shapiro, J., & Applegate, J. (2005). Neurobiology for clinical social work: Theory and Practice. New York: Norton Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  61. Shapiro, V., Shapiro, J., & Paret, I. (2001). Complex adoption and assisted reproductive technology: A developmental approach to clinical practice. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  62. Shonkoff, J., & Phillip, D. (Eds.). (2000). From neurons to neighborhoods: The science of early childhood development. Washington: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  63. Siegel, D. (2001). Toward an interpersonal neurobiology of the developing mind: Attachment relationships, “mindsight,” and neural integration. Infant Mental Health Journal, 22, 67–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Slade, A. (2002). Keeping the baby in mind: A critical factor in prenatal mental health. Zero to Three, June/July, 10–16.Google Scholar
  65. Slade, A., Grienenberger, J., Bernbach, E., Levy, D., & Locker, A. (2005). Maternal reflective functioning, attachment and the transmission gap: A preliminary study. Attachment and Human Development, 7, 283–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Sroufe, L. A., Carlson, E., Levy, A., & Egeland, B. (1999). Implications of attachment theory for developmental psychopathology. Development and Psychopathology, 11, 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Stern, D. (1985). The interpersonal world of the infant. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  68. Tronick, E., & Weinberg, M. (1998). The impact of maternal psychiatric illness on infant development. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 59, 53–61.Google Scholar
  69. Werner-Wilson, R. (2001). Developmental systemic and family therapy with adolescents. New York: Haworth Press.Google Scholar
  70. Zeanah, C., Boris, N., Bakshi, S., & Lieberman, A. (2000). Disorders of attachment. In J. Osofksy & H. Fitzgerald (Eds.), WAIMH handbook of infant mental health. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social WorkBryn Mawr CollegeBryn MawrUSA

Personalised recommendations