Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 73 Issue 4 (December 2000), Pages 433-567

An investigation of the attachment organization of clinical psychologists and its relationship to clinical practice (pages 449-464)

Recent research on attachment theory as a model for understanding adult relationships and for psychotherapy suggests that the attachment organization of therapists could influence their approach to therapeutic work. A postal questionnaire including two measures of current adult attachment and one of early loss experience, together with measures of current clinical practice, was completed by 196 British clinical psychologists (40.4% return rate). Seventy per cent of the sample rated themselves as secure (a greater proportion than in the general population). The sample as a whole scored higher on the attachment pattern of ‘compulsive care‐giving’ than on any of the other insecure patterns of attachment. A number of significant differences were found between the secure and insecure groups in approach to work, interest in working with different clients and difficulty experienced in therapeutic practice. A relationship was found between the amount of early loss experienced and current attachment style, therapeutic orientation and experience of therapy. Implications for the training and development of psychologists are considered and directions for future research are suggested.

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