Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Clinical practitioners are frequently encouraged, through literature, training, and policy, to learn, understand, refer to and use their knowledge of attachment theory and research when working to meet the needs of children and families. However, there has been very little empirical study of how practitioners understand and perceive the relevance of attachment concepts and methods. Q-methodology was used to examine the perceptions of attachment knowledge and its applications for practice among 30 UK clinicians working with children and an international group of 31 attachment researchers. Factor analysis revealed three perspectives, described as: i) pragmatic, developmental, and uncertain, ii) academic, and iii) autodidactic and therapeutic. Participants agreed on core tenants of theory, their aspirations for clinical practice and the inaccessibility of current assessment measures for practitioners. Yet they diverged on their understandings of attachment insecurity, disorganisation, and the implications of both for various aspects of child development.

Original publication




Journal article


Attach Hum Dev

Publication Date





661 - 689


Attachment theory, Diagnosis, Q-methodology, Scientific knowledge, clinical practice, Child, Humans, Object Attachment, Child Development