Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


School social work, Attachment behavior in children, Object relations (Psychoanalysis), Child abuse, Attachment theory, Object relations theory, Child abuse and neglect


This theoretical study explores a unique conceptualization of the relationship between a school social worker and his or her relationship with the child client and the child's family after a Child Protective Service report was made. In this paper I will explore the concepts of John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth when discussing attachment theory and W.R.D. Fairbairn when discussing object relations theory. Through the lens of these two theories I will critique and improve upon the child welfare and school constructs in how families are dealt with during the process of working with Child Protective Services (CPS). Attachment and object relations theory help to illustrate the importance of looking at the connection or lack thereof that a child has with his or her family. In doing so, this study examines the range of responses that the family might have after a Child Protective Services report is made. Additionally, the study analyzes the impact that the family has not only on the child client but also the therapeutic alliance between the child and the school social worker. To effectively meet the needs of the family - many of whom have multiple stressors in their lives - all of the professionals involved such as the school social worker, CPS caseworker, school faculty and lawyers must maintain a level of transparency, cultural humility, and allow the family's voice to be heard in order for change to happen.




iii, 122 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, 2014. Includes bibliographical references (pages 113-122)