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Morley, R.E. (2001). Adult Attachment and Couple Psychotherapy: the ‘secure base’ in practice and research. Edited by Christopher Clulow. London & Philadelphia: Brunner-Routledge. Pp. xxiii + 228. £16.98.. Psychoanal. Psychother., 15(3):299-301.

(2001). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 15(3):299-301

Adult Attachment and Couple Psychotherapy: the ‘secure base’ in practice and research. Edited by Christopher Clulow. London & Philadelphia: Brunner-Routledge. Pp. xxiii + 228. £16.98.

Review by:
Robert E Morley

This book explores the application of Bowlby's theory of attachment to the understanding of couple relationships, and therapeutic practice in work with couples. In a thoughtful and interesting way it discusses the meaning of the concepts and how they can be applied, with modifications, to adult relationships.

Bowlby's ideas were first enunciated in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, in his seminal three-volume work, Attachment and Loss. Since then, there have been many rigorous experiments to test and refine those ideas. Reference to that experimental work forms an important part of the discussion, and some of the basic experiments are carefully described. The fundamental concept of the ‘secure base’, used in this book as the basis for the study and its applications, was developed by Bowlby from observations, reported by Anderson (1972), of mothers and infants in an open situation. While the mothers were sitting stationary the children made forays away from their mothers, maintaining contact by glances and smiles, and occasionally returning to the security of their mothers’ orbit. These observations were then carefully tested in controlled experimental situations. In those experiments, it has been amply demonstrated in relation to children, that an important aspect in their development towards secure adulthood was the establishment of this feeling of security about the mother, and then perhaps with father, too. In the development of this idea of the secure base by further experiments, it was discovered that, where there was anxiety about the security of this relationship with the mother or other familiar care-giver, attachment could be characterised as secure, anxious/ambivalent, or avoidant. These categories were established through the use of the Strange Situation Test (SST) in a laboratory setting.

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