Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 5

Atachment Theory The concept of Attachment probably seems like common sense.

That a child seeks proximity to its parent under times of stress makes intuitive sense to most parents, however a framework for this understanding has only developed in the last 50 or 60 years, but has significantly influenced the way we understand the needs of infants and young children.
There are numerous well written texts on attachment (Prior and Glaser 2006; Cassidy and Shaver 2008). There is an increasing research base both on the links between patterns of childhood attachment and adult personality, as well as interventions with children and young people who are considered to have insecure attachment or attachment disorder. The recommended reading list at the end of this section provides links to these resources for further information and study. Attachment theory was developed by Bowlby (1969) and further tested, refined and developed by Ainsworth (1978), Main and Solomon (1986) amongst others. The theory focuses on the bond between an attachment figure (usually the main caregiver) and the infant. This relationship is based on the childs need to feel safe, secure and protected. Babies are born vulnerable and in need of protection. They are also born as innate social beings with a need to interact with others.

Attachment The following activity requires you to reflect on your own attachment experiences and how this might affect your work with children, young people and their families. Who was your main attachment figure? How would you describe your attachment experiences? How do you think those experiences manifest in your adult life?

Internal states, such as hunger or fatigue will activate the attachment behaviour system*, as well as unfamiliar experiences such as; sudden changes, or being alone. These are experienced as threatening by the infant and attachment behaviour is triggered, i.e. the child seeks proximity to the adult by crying or vocalising their distress what Bowlby referred to as the core goal of attachment behaviour. The attachment system is continuously monitoring where the attachment figure is and how available they are. The more upset the child, the closer proximity they will require. The attachment figure is drawn to the child by vocal signalling and the attachment behaviour is usually brought to an end by either physical contact or vocal reassurance from the attachment figure. This is known as the arousalrelaxation cycle and Bowlby believed that the predictability of this cycle had a significant effect on the childs developing sense of security. In other words, the consistency with which the parent responded appropriately to the attachment

behaviour was reflected in the childs view of the parent, the world and them self or their internal working model. Bowlby (1988) identified four phase of attachment, the boundaries of which are blurred but nevertheless follow in the order of the stages identified in Textbox 3 (Ainsworths renaming of the phases and research updates not available at the time of Bowlbys classifications, are in brackets).

Internal Working Model Bowlby developed the concept of the Internal Working Model (IWM) to describe the childs developing representation of the world and particularly of others who share their world. Similar to Piagets schema, the IWM is based on the childs previous interactions with others, mainly their parents and carers, and allows them to make sense of (and predictions about) the world around them. So a child who experiences their main carer/s as loving, dependable and reliable will develop a working model which sees adults as having similar qualities. Similarly a child who experiences their main carer/s as unpredictable, unreliable and unsafe will develop an internal working model which sees adults as unhelpful, or worse, as threatening. The childs Internal Working Model may have a significant influence on a young person or adults ability to form and sustain relationships later in life. Its clear then that the schema or internal working model is not simply linear functions of age or development. Rather they are an accumulation of experience, although the nature of that

experience is mediated by parents. They act as both filters to experience and interpreters of meaning for the child. In time this becomes the childs own narrative.

The concept of the secure base was also described by Ainsworth (nee Salter 1940 cited in Main 1999) and built on the work of Bowlby. Secure base refers to the feeling of safety provided by an attachment figure (Holmes 1993). A child will only develop this sense of felt security if the parent responds to attachment behaviours sensitively and quickly to assuage distress and reduce perceived threat (arousal relaxation cycle). This effect is necessary to allow a child to explore their environment, safe in the knowledge that if they feel threatened they can return to a safe secure base (their main carer/s) for protection. An example of a secure base is a toddler who leaves their carer, explores their environment, and briefly returns to their carer before further exploration a process called emotional refuelling or rapprochement. As their internal working model develops, the child begins to carry a mental representations of their attachment figure and is able to hold them in mind while they explore new environments, perhaps even out of sight of the parent. In time this internal model becomes less of a reference object, instead offering a way of assessing and managing threat in the absence of the individual. Most infants and children travel through these phases without too much difficulty, and achieve a secure attachment with one or more care givers. However there are some children who develop an insecure attachment. Mary Ainsworth initially described attachment using three categories;

Types A, B and C, each having sub-categories. Most professionals will be used to the categorisations: secure attachment, avoidant attachment, ambivalent attachment and disorganised/disoriented attachment. These categories were created by using the Strange Situation Procedure in which the childs attachment is assessed by their responses to introduction of a stranger and separation from and reunion with their mother. 1.11 Secure Base Click on the link to the Strange Situation make notes in your portfolio about the key learning points gained from studying the video. Think of the Campbell family described earlier how would you know if the children had a secure base? How would you assess the nature of the childrens secure base?

Internal working model External link Back