Attachment Theory Worksheets

Unpack and understand anxious attachment patterns, secure attachment style, and everything in between with this informative guide and essential theory worksheet. Perfect for both the healthcare professional and the client.

By Harriet Murray on Jul 11, 2024.


Fact Checked by RJ Gumban.

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What is attachment theory?

Attachment theory, developed by psychologist John Bowlby, centers on the profound and enduring emotional bond between an infant and their primary caregiver, often the mother or a consistent caregiver. This attachment theory recognizes and emphasizes the critical role of early relationships in shaping a child's emotional and social development.

Attachment theory suggests that infants are biologically predisposed to seek proximity to a secure and responsive caregiver. Through this proximity, infants feel secure, supported, and protected, enabling them to explore their environment confidently. Bowlby identified four primary attachment styles that emerge based on a child's interactions with their caregiver: secure, insecure-avoidant, insecure-ambivalent, and disorganized.

Secure attachment is characterized by a child's confidence in the caregiver's availability and responsiveness. These children can comfortably explore their surroundings knowing they have a secure base to return to when needed. In contrast to this, insecure-avoidant attachment develops when caregivers are consistently unresponsive or dismissive of a child's needs. Children with this attachment style might seem independent and have emotionally distant parents, often suppressing their attachment needs.

Insecure-ambivalent attachment arises when caregivers are inconsistently responsive, leading to uncertainty and anxiety in the child's interactions. These children might appear clingy and anxious, craving but simultaneously mistrusting closeness. Disorganized attachment results from unpredictable, frightening, or abusive caregiving experiences, leading to contradictory behaviors and emotional confusion in children.

Attachment styles established in infancy continue to influence relationships and emotional patterns throughout life. They impact social interactions, self-esteem, coping mechanisms, and the ability to form and maintain healthy relationships in adulthood. However, the adult attachment style itself is not fixed; it can be influenced by later experiences and interventions.

Key factors influencing attachment include caregiver sensitivity, responsiveness, and consistency in meeting a child's emotional and physical needs. Cultivating a secure attachment involves caregivers attuning to a child's cues, providing comfort, and establishing a safe and nurturing environment.

Understanding attachment theory is crucial as it sheds light on the profound impact of early relationships on a person's emotional development. Recognizing attachment patterns helps caregivers, educators, and mental health professionals support healthy attachment bonds, fostering resilience and emotional well-being in individuals across their lifespan.

Attachment Theory Worksheets Template

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Attachment Theory Worksheets Example

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The different attachment styles

As psychologist John Bowlby proposed, attachment styles describe the patterns of relating and interaction that develop between infants and their caregivers. These styles shape how individuals perceive relationships and navigate emotions throughout their lives. The primary attachment styles, identified through research by Bowlby and later expanded upon by Mary Ainsworth, include secure, insecure-avoidant, insecure-ambivalent, and disorganized attachments.

Secure Attachment styles

Children with secure attachment have caregivers who are consistently responsive to their needs. They feel confident that their caregiver will be there for them when needed, creating a sense of security. These children are comfortable exploring their environment, knowing they have a safe base to return to. As adults, they tend to have positive views of relationships, trust others easily, and effectively manage emotions.

Insecure-Avoidant Attachment

In this attachment style, caregivers tend to be emotionally distant or dismissive of the child's needs. As a result, the child learns to suppress their attachment needs and become self-reliant. They may avoid seeking comfort or closeness from others. As adults, they might struggle with intimacy, have difficulty trusting others, and may downplay the importance of relationships.

Insecure-Ambivalent Attachment

Children with ambivalent attachment experience inconsistent caregiving. Sometimes, caregivers are responsive, but at other times, they may be unavailable or neglectful. These children become anxious and uncertain about the availability of comfort and support. As adults, they might seek closeness in superficial relationships but fear abandonment, leading to relationship insecurities and emotional volatility.

Disorganized Attachment

This style often arises from frightening or abusive caregiving experiences, leading to contradictory behaviors and emotional confusion in children. Caregivers may be frightening or frightened themselves, causing the child to exhibit disorganized, erratic behavior. As adults, they might struggle with emotional regulation, have difficulties forming stable relationships, and exhibit unresolved trauma from early childhood experiences.

It is important to note that these attachment styles aren't static; they can evolve and be influenced by later experiences and interventions. Individuals might exhibit a blend of attachment styles or display different styles in different relationships.

How to Approach Attachment Styles in Therapy

Approaching attachment styles in therapy involves creating a safe and supportive environment that allows clients to explore their attachment patterns and how these patterns influence their relationships and emotions. Here are some strategies therapists utilize:

Assessment and Exploration

Begin by understanding the client's attachment history. Use assessments or open-ended questions to explore their early relationships with caregivers, seeking to identify attachment patterns and their impact on current and future relationships.


Educate clients about attachment theory, explaining how early experiences can shape attachment styles and affect current behaviors, emotions, and relationships. This helps clients understand the roots of their patterns.

Building Trust and Safety

Establish a trusting therapeutic relationship. For individuals with insecure attachment, a therapist's consistent support and responsiveness can model a secure base, fostering trust and security within the therapeutic relationship.

Exploring Emotions and Triggers

Help clients recognize and understand their emotions and triggers, especially in the context of close relationships. Encourage them to identify patterns of emotional responses, particularly in challenging or intimate situations.

Mindfulness and Emotional Regulation

Teach mindfulness and emotion regulation techniques to help clients manage intense emotions triggered by attachment-related situations. Grounding techniques can be particularly helpful for those with disorganized or anxious attachments.

Interpersonal Skill Building

Assist clients in developing healthy interpersonal skills, such as effective communication, setting boundaries, and expressing needs assertively, to improve their relationships.

Working through Trauma

For clients with traumatic attachment experiences, use trauma-informed approaches like EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) or trauma-focused therapies to address unresolved trauma that impacts attachment patterns.

Experiential Techniques

Incorporate experiential therapies like role-playing, visualization, or attachment-focused exercises to help clients reframe their attachment experiences and develop new relational patterns.

Family or Couples Therapy

Consider involving family members or partners in therapy sessions to address relational dynamics and enhance attachment security within these relationships.

Exploration of Transference and Countertransference

Acknowledge and explore any attachment-related dynamics that emerge between the therapist and the client. This helps in understanding how past attachment patterns might manifest in the therapeutic relationship.

Approaching attachment styles in therapy requires a nuanced understanding of each individual's unique experiences and their impact on current functioning. The goal is to support clients in understanding their attachment patterns, fostering security, and promoting healthier ways of relating to themselves and others.

How to use this Attachment Theory Worksheet

Step One: Gather your resources

Attachment Theory Worksheets are a valuable resource and essential to keep on hand. Make sure that you have a copy of the free printable PDF when the need arises by either clicking the “Download Template” or “Use Template” button or by searching “Attachment Theory Worksheet” on Carepatron’s template library’s search bar on the website or app.

Step Two: Collate essential information

Begin with the adult attachment styles interview with questions taken from the AAI protocol (modified from George et al., 1985: Brisch, 2012). This set of questions are commonly used within the therapy context to gauge an understanding of the adult's early attachment memories, as well as highlight the current strategies used to regulate, process, and understand information and emotions.

After completing the interview, the healthcare professional may lead the client to fill out different aspects of the worksheet, such as the 'safety and security' section, or maybe the 'avoidance reflection' section. all aspects of this worksheet can help identify and highlight potential areas to work on and discuss to help move into a more secure attachment style.

Step Three: Store the worksheet securely

After reviewing the attachment theory worksheet and creating a viable and individualized therapy plan for the patient, you need to secure the plan so that access is only granted to relevant parties. 

Ensure this through Carepatrons HIPAA-compliant free patient records software. Here, all relevant medical records can be safely stored and collated for ease and security. 

Attachment Theory Worksheet example (sample)

Are you eager to utilize this essential therapy tool? Acquire a free, downloadable, and printable Attachment Therapy Worksheet PDF that comes pre-filled with fictional data to help you and your patient confidently record information surrounding attachment theory.  

Secure your copy by either previewing the sample below or clicking the "Download Example PDF" button.

Carepatron offers a suite of developmental and behavioral therapy guides and templates, some of which may be of value to anyone evaluating attachment styles. Below are some handy links to these comprehensive guides:

Download this Attachment Theory Worksheet example: 

Attachment Theory Worksheet example (sample)

Who is this worksheet for, and how is it beneficial?

Attachment theory worksheets can benefit various individuals, including clients in therapy, mental health professionals, educators, parents, and caregivers. Here's how different groups might benefit:

Clients in Therapy

Self-Reflection: Worksheets based on attachment theory help clients reflect on their relationships, emotions, and behaviors. They aid in understanding their attachment patterns and how they impact their lives.

Skill Development: Worksheets often include exercises to improve emotional regulation, communication, and relationship-building skills, empowering clients to develop healthier attachment styles.

Mental Health Professionals

Assessment Tools: Worksheets provide structured tools for assessing attachment styles, helping therapists understand clients' attachment-related struggles and tailor interventions accordingly.

Therapeutic Interventions: Therapists use these worksheets as part of interventions to guide discussions, facilitate exploration, and encourage clients to practice new skills.


Understanding Students: Educators can use attachment theory worksheets to better understand students' behaviors and emotional responses in the classroom, fostering a more supportive learning environment.

Support Strategies: Worksheets can guide educators in implementing strategies to support students with different attachment styles, promoting positive interactions and learning experiences.

Parents and Caregivers

Parenting Guidance: Attachment theory worksheets offer guidance to parents and caregivers on understanding their child's attachment needs, promoting secure attachments, treating attachment disorders and fostering healthy parent-child relationships.

Support for Challenges: Worksheets provide tools for navigating challenges related to parenting styles, communication, and responding to children's emotional needs.

Researchers and Academics

Data Collection: Attachment theory worksheets can serve as standardized tools for data collection in research studies, allowing for consistent assessment of attachment styles across different populations.

Teaching Material: Academics can use these worksheets as teaching aids to illustrate attachment theory concepts and promote discussion in academic settings.

Attachment theory worksheets serve as versatile tools that can be adapted to various contexts. They provide structure, guidance, and practical exercises to facilitate understanding, reflection, and skill development related to attachment patterns and their impact on relationships and emotional well-being.

Research & evidence

John Bowlby's initial insights into attachment theory emerged in his 1944 article, "Forty-Four Juvenile Thieves: Their Character and Home-Life," first published in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis (Bowlby, 2013). He employed case studies and statistical methods, a novelty among psychoanalysts at the time, to scrutinize the roots of delinquency. Bowlby's empirical revelation highlighted early attachment-related experiences, particularly separations from, or inconsistent and harsh treatment by, caregivers, especially mothers and other involved male figures. Over subsequent decades, he intricately developed attachment theory.

In contrast to many of his contemporaries in psychoanalysis, Bowlby collaborated with an empirically inclined researcher, Mary Ainsworth. Ainsworth's meticulous observations, first conducted in Uganda (Ainsworth, 1967), and then in Baltimore, delineated maternal behaviors preceding variations in infant attachment. Her creation of the Strange Situation (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978) set a benchmark for identifying and categorizing differences in infant attachment security and insecurity. This landmark method initiated extensive research exploring the origins and repercussions of these differences.

By the 21st century's inception, the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine, in their policy and practice guidelines, underscored the significance of nurturing relationships in childhood, drawing upon four key themes, one of which emphasized the crucial role of early environments and relationships in child development. This perspective, supported by Bowlby's theory and Ainsworth's research, highlighted the critical nature of close, supportive relationships for healthy development (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000).

Why use Carepatron as your therapy software?

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Through Carepatron's centralized workspace, you can streamline your entire practice in one comprehensive software solution, eliminating the need for costly and confusing multiple platforms to carry out a few simple steps. Our eclectic therapy software is tailored to meet the unique needs of therapists, offering features such as medical document creation and storage, a medical billing system, secure patient online payments software, patient scheduling software, and even a telehealth platform, all in one place!

Carepatron simplifies your practice and lets you provide care services like never before. Our commitment to radicalized accessibility means that our eclectic therapy app is safe, secure, and easy to use whether you're a long-standing medical professional or just starting out!

Deliver eclectic therapy through Carepatron and enhance your practice with a dedicated therapy EHR and scheduling software. Get started with Carepatron today and experience the benefits of efficient therapy practice management software. Sign up for a free account now to unlock your full potential!

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Ainsworth, M. (1967). Infancy in Uganda: Infant care and the growth of love.

Ainsworth, M., Blehar, M., Waters, E., & Wall, S. (2015). Patterns of attachment: A psychological study of the strange situation. Psychology Press.

Bowlby, J. (2013). Bowlby, John. "Forty-four juvenile thieves: Their characters and home-life. The Mark of Cain, 35–41.

Shonkoff, J., & Phillips, D. (2000). From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development. PubMed.

How does attachment style develop, and can it change over time?
How does attachment style develop, and can it change over time?

Commonly asked questions

How does attachment style develop, and can it change over time?

Attachment styles are primarily shaped by early interactions between infants and their caregivers. These interactions, characterized by responsiveness, consistency, and emotional availability, influence secure or insecure attachment patterns. While attachment styles established in infancy can have lasting effects on healthy human development, they are not set in stone. Later experiences, interventions, and relationships can evolve and influence them. Therapy, self-reflection, and new relational experiences can contribute to changes in attachment styles throughout life.

What impact does attachment style have on adult relationships?

Attachment styles significantly influence how individuals approach and navigate relationships in adulthood. Understanding one's attachment style can help recognize and address relational patterns, foster healthier connections, and improve communication and emotional regulation within relationships.

Can attachment styles affect mental health and overall well-being?

Yes, attachment styles are linked to mental health outcomes and overall well-being. Secure attachment is associated with better emotional regulation, higher self-esteem, and reduced anxiety and depression. Insecure attachment styles, on the other hand, can contribute to increased stress, emotional dysregulation, and difficulties in coping with challenges. Understanding one's attachment style can be instrumental in therapy, as it sheds light on underlying relational patterns impacting mental health, guiding interventions to promote emotional resilience and well-being.

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