Building the Bonds of AttachmentFor the month of November your Partner for Healing will share with you the books that have most influenced our lives and our practices. We welcome your ideas of the books that have changed your life.

I have to begin the list with the book that started it all for me: Building the Bonds of Attachment by Daniel Hughes. (Hughes, Daniel Building the bonds of attachment: Awakening love in deeply troubled children. Jason Aronson August 8, 2006)

Building the Bonds of Attachment tells the story of Katie, her early abuse, her entrance into the foster care system, some unsuccessful placements and then her placement with Jackie, an attachment trained foster family. It juxtaposes the story of her State worker and the care he and his wife give their new born baby. Her experiences in therapy are also included. After every chapter in the story there is a commentary which underscores the lessons in that chapter.

This was the book that started my understanding of what is actually going on with the children we serve. As importantly, the book teaches us what is required from us as adults to help our children grow. Staff and foster parents are encouraged to evaluate their work by what they do, not by what the kids do. The book introduces The Attitude, guidelines for how staff and foster parents should be to promote the most healing.  The elements of The Attitude are: Playful, Loving, Accepting, Curious and Empathetic. PLACE. Adults explore what these elements mean to them, which are easier, which harder. Any day in which adults have approached the children with the Attitude is a successful day.

The premise of this approach is that the adults must understand that the child is operating from fear and from her past experiences. It is up to the adults to structure her life so that she can be successful. When she has a meltdown, the adults look at themselves and examine what they asked her to do that she could not yet manage. Gradually her capacity increases.

Because this book is written as a story, it is very readable and engaging. Many people who would not read a clinical theoretical book are easily drawn in to this book.

When I first read this book it changed my life. Everything I had been thinking about was crystallized and confirmed. We immediately hired Daniel Hughes to do a training for a group of local agencies. This book shaped all my theory development and work. I have recommended it and gifted it many times and always received an enthusiastic reception.

Daniel Hughes has revised Building the Bonds of Attachment as his theories have evolved. For example he has added more about the importance of the parents own attachment experience. I would also recommend his other books:

Hughes Daniel (2007) Attachment-focused Family Therapy. W. W. Norton & Company
Hughes, Daniel PhD Attachment-Focused Parenting: Effective Strategies to Care for Children Norton Professional Books

Hughes Daniel A. and Baylin Jonathan (2012) Brain-Based Parenting: The Neuroscience of Caregiving for Healthy Attachment (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology) W. W. Norton & Company

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