‘Tell Me What You Understand About Your Patient’: Applying Attachment Principles to Medical Education

  • Jonathan HunterEmail author
  • Robert Maunder
  • Paula Ravitz
  • Sophie Soklaridis


In this chapter we draw a heuristic parallel between the characteristics defined by attachment theory as optimal for developmental maturation and processes for teaching clinical competence. We have emphasize that creating a safe learning environment, and in particular a secure supervisory relationship, minimizes fear and anxiety in trainees. This safety prevents negative experiences from obstructing the acquisition of new knowledge and capacities for trainees. The modelling of mentalizing by the supervisor – of themselves, of the patient, and of the trainees – in a nonintrusive, respectful manner contributes to the creation of a safe educational base and optimizes the trainee’s competence in understanding their patient’s subjective experience. These attachment principles cut across theoretical perspectives and disciplines to structure and deepen any educational endeavour.


Attachment Style Attachment Theory Secure Base Safe Haven Health Profession Education 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan Hunter
    • 1
    Email author
  • Robert Maunder
    • 1
  • Paula Ravitz
    • 2
  • Sophie Soklaridis
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Toronto, Mount Sinai HospitalTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Division of Psychotherapies, Humanities and Education Scholarship, Department of PsychiatryUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Research, Innovation and Scholarship in Education Stream, Division of Psychotherapies, Humanities and Education Scholarship, Department of PsychiatryCentre for Addiction and Mental Health, University of TorontoTorontoCanada

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