Attachment Processes in Couple and Family Therapy  book cover
1st Edition

Attachment Processes in Couple and Family Therapy

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ISBN 9781593852924
Published February 23, 2006 by Guilford Press
411 Pages

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Book Description

With contributions from leading clinicians and researchers, this book presents couple and family therapy models that use attachment theory as the basis for new clinical understandings. Chapters provide compelling insights on the nature of interactions between adult partners and between parents and children, and the role of attachment in distressed and satisfying relationships. The book describes a range of ways that attachment-oriented interventions can help resolve marital conflict and difficult family transitions.

Table of Contents

I. Relevance of Attachment Theory for Clinical Practice
1. Introduction to Attachment: A Therapist's Guide to Primary Relationships and Their Renewal, Susan M. Johnson
2. Adult Attachment Theory, Psychodynamics, and Couple Relationships: An Overview, Dory A. Schachner, Phillip R. Shaver, and Mario Mikulincer
3. The Essential Nature of Couple Relationships, Cindy Hazan
4. Stability and Change of Attachment Representations from Cradle to Grave, Elaine Scharfe
5. Alternate Pathways to Competence: Culture and Early Attachment Relationships, Vivian J. Carlson and Robin L. Harwood
II. Models of Clinical Intervention
6. Attachment Theory: A Guide for Couple Therapy, Susan M. Johnson
7. Attachment Processes in Couple Therapy: Informing Behavioral Models, Joanne Davila
8. Caring for the Caregiver: An Attachment Approach to Assessment and Treatment of Child Problems, Roger Kobak and Toni Mandelbaum
9. Creating and Repairing Attachments in Biological, Foster, and Adoptive Families, Terry M. Levy and Michael Orlans
10. Attachment-Based Family Therapy for Depressed Adolescents: Repairing Attachment Failures, Guy S. Diamond and Richard S. Stern
III. Using an Attachment Perspective in Interventions with Particular Populations
11. The First Couple: Using Watch, Wait, and Wonder to Change Troubled Infant-Mother Relationships, Nancy J. Cohen, Elisabeth Muir, and Mirek Lojkasek
12. The Journey of Adolescence: Transitions in Self within the Context of Attachment Relationships, Marlene M. Moretti and Roy Holland
13. Implications of Adult Attachment for Preventing Adverse Marital Outcomes, Rebecca J. Cobb and Thomas N. Bradbury
14. Attachment in Later Life: Implications for Intervention with Older Adults, J. Michael Bradley and Gail Palmer
15. Using an Attachment-Based Intervention with Same-Sex Couples, Gordon J. Josephson
IV. Specific Attachment Interventions for Particular Problems
16. Looking Outward Together: Adult Attachment and Childbearing Depression, Valerie E. Whiffen
17. Understanding the Effects of Child Sexual Abuse History on Current Couple Relationships: An Attachment Perspective, Pamela C. Alexander
18. Attachment and the Experience of Chronic Pain: A Couples Perspective, Samuel F. Mikail
V. Conclusion
19. What Attachment Theory Can Offer Marital and Family Therapists, Valerie E. Whiffen

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Susan M. Johnson, EdD, is Professor Emeritus of Clinical Psychology at the University of Ottawa, Canada; Distinguished Research Professor in the Marital and Family Therapy Program at Alliant International University in San Diego; Director of the International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (; and Director of the Ottawa Couple and Family Institute. Widely published, she is the leading developer of emotionally focused therapy, which she teaches extensively in North America and internationally. Dr. Johnson is a recipient of honors including the Order of Canada--the highest civilian award given by the Canadian government, for outstanding achievement, dedication to the community, and service to the nation--and the Distinguished Contribution to Family Systems Research Award from the American Family Therapy Academy. Her website is

Valerie E. Whiffen, PhD, Professor of Psychology in the School of Psychology at the University of Ottawa, has published widely in the area of depression, particularly focusing on women's depression. In recent publications, she has explored an attachment theory-based understanding of depression that co-occurs with marital distress. Dr. Whiffen teaches graduate courses in adult psychopathology and interpersonal theory, and supervises the clinical work of practicum students and interns in the American Psychological Association-accredited clinical psychology program at the University of Ottawa. She is a registered clinical psychologist and maintains a private practice specializing in the treatment of depression and marital distress.


For decades, the family therapy field seemed addicted to the idea that families and couples `operate like machines. Fortunately, attachment theory has come on the scene of late to give couple and family therapists a secure conceptual base for understanding what is fundamental to close, committed relationships. Johnson and Whiffen's outstanding new book organizes the best of what is known about attachment theory and family therapy, and will serve as a springboard for creative new developments in this important area for a long time to come.--Alan S. Gurman, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin Medical School

Johnson and Whiffen should be commended for providing a remarkable resource for couple and family therapists and researchers alike. This book brings together a stellar set of contributions offering a unique blend of basic scholarship and creative application. The result is essential reading for graduate students and a 'must-have' handbook for clinicians of all theoretical persuasions. Readers will find a theoretical framework for the field of couple and family therapy that is comprehensive, data-based, and integrative. I enthusiastically recommend this volume to anyone interested in couple and family functioning or strategies of intervention.--Steven R. H. Beach, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Georgia

This impressive volume provides a theory-rich account of human attachment bonds and the development and treatment of relationship problems. It draws together leading researchers and clinicians in the areas of developmental psychology, social psychology, and couple and family therapy. The contributors offer new insights into the links among emotional experience, relationship behavior, and individual adjustment, together with valuable techniques for strengthening intimate relationships.--Judith A. Feeney, PhD, School of Psychology, University of Queensland, Australia

This book has been an excellent addition to my training curriculum. As a text in a graduate-level marriage and family therapy training seminar, the book provides students with an essential theoretical foundation for understanding the manifestation of attachment dynamics in a clinical setting. Its coverage of diverse clinical applications and populations is invaluable to the students as they work to integrate theory and practice.--Craig W. Smith, PhD, Marriage and Family Therapy Program, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

The editors of this book have done well in ensuring that, whenever possible, recommended therapeutic interventions are data based....The various chapters are well written; they are free of jargon and cohere beautifully into an integrated whole, balancing theory, clinical practice, and research.
--Psychiatric Services, 12/17/2005ƒƒ
Dramatically changed the way I think about couple therapy....I quite literally found every chapter of this book useful in expanding my knowledge of attachment theory in the context of couple and family therapy.
--Couples Research and Therapy Newsletter, 12/17/2005