Reassessing Attachment Theory in Child Welfare

Sue White, Matthew Gibson, David Wastell, Patricia Walsh

Research output: Book/ReportBook


This book offers an analysis and summary of the uses, abuses and limitations of attachment theory in contemporary child welfare practice.

Analysing the primary science and drawing on the authors’ original empirical work, the book shows how attachment theory can distort and influence decision-making. It argues that the dominant view of attachment theory may promote a problematic diagnostic mindset, whilst undervaluing the enduring relationships between children and adults.

The book concludes that attachment theory can still play an important role in child welfare practice, but the balance of the research agenda needs a radical shift towards a sophisticated understanding of the realities of human experience to inform ethical practice.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherBristol, Policy Press
Number of pages152
ISBN (Electronic)9781447336945
ISBN (Print)9781447336921, 9781447336914
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2019


  • Social Work
  • Attachment theory
  • child welfare
  • Child welfare services
  • Social policy
  • Child Protection


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