Attachment Narrative Therapy: Integrating Systemic, Narrative, and Attachment Approaches

Attachment Narrative Therapy: Integrating Systemic, Narrative, and Attachment Approaches

Attachment Narrative Therapy: Integrating Systemic, Narrative, and Attachment Approaches

Attachment Narrative Therapy: Integrating Systemic, Narrative, and Attachment Approaches


  • What are some of the central connections between narrative, systemic and attachment therapies?
  • How do early emotional experiences in families shape our narratives about ourselves and our families?
  • In what ways do family attachments shape our narrative abilities, such as being able to reflect on and integrate our experiences?
This book sets out a framework for practice - Attachment Narrative Therapy - that provides a new approach to working with families, couples and individuals. This is not offered as a prescriptive model but as an aid and guide to practice that draws aspects of narrative and attachment therapy into systemic work. The synthesis of these ideas offers clinicians a new integrative way to approach their practice - one in which the three approaches are used to create a greater whole than their constituent parts.

The book includes:

  • Clinical examples
  • Personal reflections
  • Frameworks for clinical practice
  • Therapeutic guides that include details of the application of core techniques
  • Extensive reading guides that offer connections to related theory and practice
Attachment Narrative Therapy is essential reading for a wide variety of therapists and counsellors along with researchers and trainers in those fields. It also provides insight into good practice for health and social welfare professionals in the area of family and child welfare.


[Emotion is a leading element in the system that organises interaction between intimates]

(Sue Johnson, 1988)

This book develops a theoretical base for exploring how we can work therapeutically 'within' and 'between': how people construct their relational context, and how the relational context influences people. This is a major theoretical achievement, bringing together the domains of attachment theory, systemic practice and narrative approaches to therapy. Both attachment and systems theories are large bodies of well researched clinical theories, and with the more recent narrative approaches, provide a means of theorising emotion in relational terms, in ways that help people create narratives of how they healed their relationships.

Attachment theory focuses our attention on emotional regulation and helps us trust emotion as a cue to our clients' needs. Family and intimate relationships can either foster or erode the sense of security of its members, which can be influential in the development of distress or resilience. The implications for practice of integrating attachment theory into systemic therapy are far reaching: helping people name and regulate their emotions; learning to stand in the emotional shoes of the other, and tolerating the negative emotional states of intimates; paying more attention to patterns of comforting and self-soothing; and processing emotional experience. It is probably too easy to get lost in content and pragmatic issues, particularly if we choose to avoid the intensity and power of emotional experience in our work. Attachment Narrative Therapy is not catharsis, rather it provides a framework for thinking – processing emotional experience, expanding our range of emotional responding in relation to intimate others, and integrating our emotional experience.

The systemic approach to narrative espoused in Attachment Narrative Therapy has a number of aspects. ANT explores the connections between the beliefs and stories about relationships and events from the perspectives of everyone involved in the network of concern. It provides a framework to generate multiple perspectives about these relationships and events, whilst exploring the fit between older and more current stories or accounts about . . .

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