Types: Doctoral thesis
Since Bowlby devised his theory of attachment, originally for clinical purposes,\ud refinements and extensions have developed its clinical utility. The research\ud question asked how experienced contemporary clinicians now perceive the role of\ud attachment in the formulation and treatment of distress by reference to their clinical\ud work.\ud Using grounded theory methodology, underpinned by a relativist, moderate social\ud constructionist epistemology, initial sampling consisted of 16 in-depth interviews\ud with experienced clinicians. The tentative theoretical categories that emerged were\ud then developed in theoretical sampling in further interviews with 5 of the initial\ud interviewees. The final theoretical categories to emerge concerned the prevalence\ud of caregiver-related problems, the provision of safety together with the prioritisation\ud of the relationship with self as attachment-related treatment strategies, and\ud attachment theory’s provision of understanding in problem formulation. Whilst this\ud suggests that attachment-related ideas are integrated in contemporary practice, it\ud also suggests that the clinical utility now offered by attachment theory, as\ud established in the literature, has not found broad appeal amongst clinicians despite\ud the commonness of attachment-related presenting problems.\ud The implications of this are manifold. To begin with, attachment theorists have\ud largely failed to bring the potential now offered by attachment-related therapeutic\ud interventions to the market. This situation makes it incumbent on the next\ud generation of attachment researchers to more clearly articulate techniques with\ud which clinicians, of whatever theoretical orientation, can better leverage\ud attachment-related knowledge in their clinical work. In this enterprise, perhaps the\ud knowledge and experience of expert clinicians could be harvested, as this research\ud has done. Moreover, researchers must expand the evidence base that such\ud interventions actually work. Beyond the implications for clinical utility and\ud efficacy, the findings strengthen counselling psychology’s influence on society’s\ud perception and treatment of attachment-related problems.
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