Leone Centre Glossary

Attachment Patterns in Family Therapy

Attachment Patterns

Attachment patterns in family therapy refer to the ways in which family members connect and interact based on their early bonding experiences. These patterns significantly influence how individuals relate to each other within the family unit and can play an important role in understanding and addressing relational dynamics.

Common Issues Addressed

Families often encounter challenges rooted in their attachment patterns, including:

  1. Communication difficulties
  2. Trust issues
  3. Emotional disconnection
  4. Recurring conflicts

About Attachment Patterns in Family Therapy

Family therapy highlights the importance of recognising and understanding these patterns. By exploring different attachment styles, families can gain insights into their interactions and work towards developing healthier relationships.

About Attachment Patterns

Attachment patterns are developed during early childhood and are shaped by the quality of care and responsiveness of caregivers. These patterns typically fall into four categories:

  • Secure
  • Anxious-preoccupied
  • Dismissive-avoidant
  • Fearful-avoidant

Each pattern influences how individuals approach relationships and manage emotional intimacy.

How Therapy Can Help

Understanding attachment patterns helps family members identify the root causes of their relational issues. This awareness allows them to address misunderstandings, improve communication, and build stronger connections. It also provides a framework for therapists to facilitate deeper discussions and encourage mutual understanding among family members.

How Therapy Works

In family therapy, the therapist guides family members through an exploration of their attachment patterns. This process involves:

  1. Identifying each member’s attachment style
  2. Examining how these styles impact family interactions
  3. Encouraging open and honest communication
  4. Developing new ways of relating that promote emotional safety and trust


What are the four main attachment styles?
The four main attachment styles are secure, anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant, and fearful-avoidant.
How do attachment patterns form?
Attachment patterns form based on early bonding experiences with caregivers, influenced by the caregivers’ responsiveness and emotional availability.
Can attachment patterns change over time?
Yes, attachment patterns can change through self-awareness, therapy, and affirming relational experiences.


  1. Brown, B. (2006). “Understanding attachment patterns in family therapy.” Journal of Family Therapy, 28(3), 215-234.
  2. Johnson, S. M. (2019). “Attachment theory in practice: Emotionally focused therapy (EFT) with individuals, couples, and families.” Guilford Press.
  3. Mikulincer, M., & Shaver, P. R. (2016). “Attachment in adulthood: Structure, dynamics, and change.” Guilford Press.
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This glossary provides definitions of various counselling terms and approaches for informational purposes only, without implying endorsement or service provision