Attachment Transmission: Effects of Therapist Attachment Style on the Therapeutic Relationship

Kaplan. Ashley R, Pace University


This study explored the relationship between attachment style and attachment in particular relationships. Specifically, this study compared the relationship between outpatient therapy patients' general adult attachment style and their attachment to their therapist. In addition, therapists' adult attachment style was investigated as a moderator between patients' global attachment and attachment to therapist. Attachment was conceptualized along two dimensions: attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance. It was hypothesized that patient's global attachment style and attachment to therapist would be positively correlated, and that therapist's attachment style would moderate the relationship between patient's global attachment and attachment to therapist. Participants included 50 patient-therapist dyads (N=50 patients, 75 therapists) from an outpatient clinic at a large, urban university. Results revealed that patients' global adult attachment style was positively correlated with attachment to their therapist. Also, therapists' attachment anxiety was found to moderate the relationship between patients' global attachment anxiety and therapist-specific attachment anxiety in female patients. No such results were found for male patients or on the attachment avoidance dimension.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Kaplan. Ashley R, "Attachment Transmission: Effects of Therapist Attachment Style on the Therapeutic Relationship" (2014). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3580472.



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