Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Attachment Theory

  • Sue M. JohnsonEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_215

Name of Theory

Attachment Theory.


In the last several decades, attachment theory has provided couple and family therapists and researchers with a map for understanding love and bonding in couple and family relationships. The science of attachment has grown tremendously and now has a large base of research support from the fields of social psychology, development, and neuroscience.

Prominent Figures

British psychiatrist John Bowlby (1907–1990) outlined the basic theory of attachment: a developmental understanding of personality with a focus on emotion regulation in his trilogy on Attachment and Loss (1969–1982).

Mary Ainsworth helped Bowlby create the Strange Situation research paradigm where a mother leaves a baby alone with a stranger for a few minutes and the babies’ responses are coded on reunion. This allowed the normative and individual differences principles of attachment to be outlined.

Since the late 1980s, adult attachment has been outlined by North American...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy, The University of OttawaOttawaCanada

Section editors and affiliations

  • Kelley Quirk
    • 1
  • Adam R. Fisher
    • 2
  1. 1.Colorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.The Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA