Clinical Implications of Attachment Theory and Research


Over the past decade there has been an explosion of interest in clinical applications of attachment theory. In this lecture, we describe John Bowlby’s model of therapeutic change, the therapeutic relationship, and the therapist’s role in emotional healing. We then review empirical evidence for three key propositions in Bowlby’s model. First, a client’s sense of security during therapy is crucial for facilitating therapeutic work. Second, a therapist’s own sense of security contributes to positive therapeutic outcomes. Third, attachment insecurities can be effectively reduced in therapy, and movement toward greater attachment security is central to achieving favorable therapeutic outcomes. Finally, we will apply the theory and the research it has generated to couple and family therapy.

Goals of this second talk:

  • To discuss the clinical implications of attachment theory and research for individual psychotherapy and couple therapy.
  • To discuss the role of the therapist as a secure base
  • To discuss ways of approaching clients’ relational behaviors and the internal working models of self and others that affect these behaviors.
  • To discuss the roles of the working alliance, transference, and counter-transference in the process of therapeutic change. 

Presentation Mario Mikulincer