*What is Attachment?

Attachment is an emotional bond to another person. The first attachment theorist, Psychologist John Bowlby , described attachment as a "lasting psychological connectedness between human beings" (Bowlby, 1969, p. 194). He believed that the earliest bonds formed between a childand their caregiver have a tremendous impact that continues throughout life. According to Bowlby, attachment also serves to keep the infant close to the mother, improving the child's chances of survival.

The central theme of attachment theory is that mothers who are available and responsive to their infant's needs establish a sense of security in their children. The infant knows that the caregiver is dependable, which creates a secure base for the child to then explore the world.

There are four key components of attachment:

  • Safe Haven: When the child feel threatened or afraid, he or she can return to the caregiver for comfort and soothing.
  • Secure Base: The caregiver provides a secure and dependable base for the child to explore the world.
  • Proximity Maintenance: The child strives to stay near the caregiver, thus keeping the child safe.
  • Separation Distress: When separated from the caregiver, the child will become upset and distressed.

 When secure attachment is not formed, or if there is an inturruption during critical periods, there can be a negative impact on development and behavior. Children are often diagnosed with oppositional-defiant disorder,  conduct disorder or post traumatic stress disorder when the attachment process is affected by abuse, neglect or trauma.