Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Substance abuse-Treatment, Attachment behavior, Addiction, Substance use disorders, Attachment theory, Treatment


This study explores mental health clinicians' use of attachment theory in the treatment of substance use disorders (SUDs). There are many quantitative studies that show a correlation between substance use and insecure attachment style, yet there is little research that looks at whether or how mental health clinicians are using attachment theory in treatment or the possible benefits and limitations of its use. This is a qualitative study that sampled ten mental health clinicians to see if and how attachment theory is used in treating SUDs. It also explored the benefits and limitations of using attachment theory in the treatment of SUDs. Participants' responses reveal that all participants held a general understanding of attachment theory and all except one participant did not deliberately consider attachment theory in the treatment process. However, all participants spoke to considering attachment-style in the treatment process. Evidenced-Based Practices (EBPs) were cited as one of the most common treatment approaches. Overall, attachment theory shows a utility in treatment, however, it should be used in conjunction with other treatment approaches and models as the study also shows its limitations for use. Also, the study reveals the need for future studies to look at treatment outcomes of the use of attachment theory in the treatment of SUDs.




iii, 116 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2013. Includes bibliographical references (p. 99-109)