Bonding and Attachment in Maltreated Children

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Lesson 2: Frequently Asked Questions about Bonding and Attachment
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What is attachment?  continued

In the mental health field, “attachment” is used more loosely and has come to reflect the global capacity to form relationships.  

For the purposes of this course, attachment capabilities refer to the capacity to form and maintain an emotional relationship while attachment refers to the nature and quality of the actual relationship.  A child, for example, may have an "insecure" attachment or a "secure" attachment.

 As we study the nature of early, emotional connections, we are finding out how important they can be for the future development of the child.  Indeed, many researchers and clinicians feel that the maternal-child attachment provides the working “template” for all subsequent relationships that the child will develop.  A solid and healthy attachment with a primary caregiver appears to be associated with a high probability of healthy relationships with others.  Poor attachment with the mother or primary caregiver appears to be associated with a host of emotional and behavioral problems later in life.



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