Current Challenges and Developments in Attachment Theory

P-5 Primary Domain

Family-Centered Practice


Designed for IECMH and ECE Professionals

December 5-6, 2023

Recent scholarship has critiqued attachment theory for promoting a limited model of parent-child relationships that is overly culturally bound, and for imposing a view of caregiving not relevant to large populations of families with young children. Other scholars note that secure base behaviors and sensitive caregiving elements exist across many different cultures, suggesting near-universal components to attachment theory. One hallmark of attachment theory is its adaptability; it is open to new data and has shifted over time based on emerging information. It is timely to examine the current state of attachment theory incorporating anti-racist principles into early childhood research and practice.  

This track will identify universal and culturally bound questions and explore how these issues can inform practice for people who use attachment theory as a basis for their work. How does attachment theory adapt itself to these current understandings? What does it mean to take an anti-racist and anti-colonialist approach to attachment work? 

By the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  • Identify fundamental theory and research concepts, and terminology, including the universality hypothesis related to the attachment relationships for children
  • Discuss the limitations of the universality hypothesis and explore opportunities for its growth and expansion by considering the relevance of race, ethnicity, and culture to attachment relationships for children
  • Name attachment-informed interventions and/or therapeutic techniques designed to promote stability, security, and continuity in children, using strategies that are racially, ethnically, and culturally responsive
  • Recognize the misuse and misinterpretation of attachment ideas and research findings, resulting in concerning outcomes, and potential solutions to these challenges