Attachment Theory Analysis

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Social workers should be aware of the many theories that can be applied in the practice. Using these theories among other things helps guide intervention, understand things across the lifespan, better understand dysfunction, and understand how many different systems interact (Thyer, Dulmus, & Sowers,2012, P.xiii). Attachment theory is no different, it helps social workers better understand issues that could be the result of dysfunctional relationships, with the possibility of these relationship problems stemming from childhood. Even with attachment theory’s limitations understanding it and its application to practice is undeniably useful.
While there are many different definitions of the theory, the roots of its meaning lie in the definition
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759). Bowlby formulated the foundation of the theory, which began with his belief that family experiences were correlated to emotional disturbance (Bretherton, 1992, P.760). Ainsworth developed a way to empirically test the theory through her Strange Situation study, the concept of the secure base which came from her background in security theory, and a made a classification system for mother-infant attachment (Bowlby, 1988, P.8). Her first well known longitudinal study was actually an attempt to test Bowlby’s theory by observing Ugandan babies and their mothers in their natural environment (Ainsworth & Bowlby,1991, P.336).The Robertson’s contributions included help with the natural observation of children experiencing separation from their parents in children’s hospitals which was recorded in the documentary "A Two Year Old Goes to Hospital" (Bowlby,1988,P.21). Additionally, the Robertsons also developed phases of separation response which were labeled as protest which is separation anxiety, despair which is sadness, and denial or detachment which is similar to repression (Bretherton, 1992, P.763). Another significant supporting study was done by Harlow, with his study of rhesus monkeys and their attachment to a wire or cloth mother (Thyer, Dulmus, & Sowers,2012, P.169).
Understanding the different types of
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In the beginning, the focus of the theory was on the effects of the mother and child relationship based on their interaction, the mother’s reactions to the infant, and the infant’s reaction to separation from the mother (Ainsworth, 1989, P.709). Working with children there are numerous studies on the effect of insecure attachment, such as higher levels of internalizing and externalizing behavior, low self-esteem, behavioral problems, and bad temperament (Stams,Juffer, F., & IJzendoorn, 2002, P. 816). These problems that can incur from lack of a secure attachment clearly can affect children throughout their entire life. For instance, it has been found that children with insecure attachment have a higher rate of criminal activity and if the poor attachment formed at a young age it has a negative impact on relationships throughout the life course (Bowlby, 1944,P.

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