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Reassessing Attachment Theory in Child Welfare$
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Sue White, Matthew Gibson, David Wastell, and Patricia Walsh

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781447336914

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447336914.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM POLICY PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.policypress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Policy Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PPSO for personal use.date: 01 July 2022

Social work and the attachment story: a felicitous bond?

Social work and the attachment story: a felicitous bond?

(p.23) 2 Social work and the attachment story: a felicitous bond?
Reassessing Attachment Theory in Child Welfare

Sue White

Matthew Gibson

David Wastell

Patricia Walsh

Policy Press

This chapter examines the symbiotic relationship between child welfare professional practice, social work in particular, and the ascent of attachment theory. The development of social work had provided fertile ground for the incubation of early ideas about attachment theory, particularly in child and family social work. It was not, however, accepted as a legitimate theory simply because John Bowlby had introduced it to the profession. Rather, while the foundations were there for attachment theory to be used in practice, it was a more complex process that eventually resulted in the theory being taught on social work courses and used routinely by practitioners. Crucial in that translation was the shift in emphasis from ‘normal’, non-clinical populations to children suffering maltreatment. As the institutional logics driving social work with children and families have shifted from the provision of help to the prediction of risk, attachment theory has been a flexible companion providing enticing vocabularies to support moral claims.

Keywords:   child welfare practice, social work, attachment theory, child social work, family social work, John Bowlby, child maltreatment

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