Attachment theory as a framework for responsiveness in psychotherapy

Hadas Wiseman, Sharon Egozi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter uses attachment theory as a framework to begin the pathway to conceptualization of therapists' responsiveness to their clients by considering the responsiveness of parents to their infants. Research in developmental psychology on mother–infant attachment flourished following Ainsworth et al.'s groundbreaking strange situation paradigm. The chapter touches on the nature of early infant–parent interaction to highlight the centrality of responsiveness in infant–parent bonds. It considers key concepts in attachment theory that are applicable to responsiveness in psychotherapy: the provision of a secure base by parents and by therapists and internal working models and relationship representations. The chapter turns to consider attachment dynamics in psychotherapy, focusing on therapist responsiveness to client attachment needs through regulating therapeutic distance. It provides narrative illustrations that depict lack of responsiveness and appropriate responsiveness, as well as misattunement and attunement. Finally, the chapter presents relevant assessment tools for attachment processes and research. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe responsive psychotherapist
Subtitle of host publicationAttuning to clients in the moment
EditorsJ. C. Watson, H. Wiseman
Place of PublicationWashington DC
PublisherAmerican Psychological Association Inc.
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)1433834022, 9781433834028
ISBN (Print)1433834014, 9781433834011
StatePublished - 2021


  • *Attachment Behavior
  • *Attachment Theory
  • *Psychotherapeutic Processes
  • *Responses
  • *Psychological Distance
  • Infant Development
  • Parent Child Relations
  • Psychotherapists


Dive into the research topics of 'Attachment theory as a framework for responsiveness in psychotherapy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this