“A deep and enduring emotional bond that connects one person to another across time and space”

(Ainsworth and Bowlby, 1969)

Attachment is a primal need and enhances an infant’s chances of survival. Infants cannot care for their own basic needs and so they are born biologically pre-programmed to form attachments with others. Infants elicit innate caregiving responses from adults through behaviours such as crying, smiling and seeking closeness to the adult attachment figure when they are upset or threatened. In this way the child uses the adult primary caregiver as a secure base from which to explore the world and, when necessary, as a haven of safety and a source of comfort. Once established, attachment becomes the driver of subsequent social, emotional, and cognitive development, as the early experiences of the infant stimulate the growth of neural pathways that establish enduring patterns of response to many people, life events, and situations.

Early attachment relationships act as prototypes for future social relationships. An internal working model, or mental representation of the relationship with the adult primary caregiver(s) becomes a model for future relationships. The mental representation of the caregiver also establishes the infant's first coping system, as it can be used as a comforting mental image in difficult situations and enables them to separate from the caregiver and begin to explore the world around them without distress. This ability to separate whilst feeling safe, creates the foundations for the child's independent survival; it affects personality development and influences the ability to form stable relationships throughout life.

Click here to find out more about child development from these three short films 


Find out more about trauma

Trauma is a psychological response to an event that a person’s nervous system perceives as life-threatening to themselves or others and which exceeds their capacity to cope with the emotions involved.


Find out more about resilience

Resilience is about how well a person can adapt to challenging events in their life such as a tradegy, accident, natural disaster, health concern, relationship, work or school problem.


About ARC & how to join

ARC supports the development of best attachment and trauma aware practice in education to benefit everyone's mental health and well-being.