The best books on attachment theory

17 authors have picked their favorite books about attachment theory and why they recommend each book.

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Diary of a Baby

By Daniel N. Stern,

Book cover of Diary of a Baby: What Your Child Sees, Feels, and Experiences

I love this book because it takes the observations and research of Daniel Stern’s The Interpersonal World of the Infant and puts it into readable and understandable language. This book helps parents to empathize with their young children, to understand how they are feeling and what they are thinking and to make attachment theory more real.

Diary of a Baby

By Daniel N. Stern,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Diary of a Baby as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Every new parent desperately wants to know what goes on in the mind of a baby. Now a noted authority on infant development and psychiatry brings us closer than ever before to penetrating a your child's consciousness. In alternating sections of evocative prose, representing the baby's own voice, and explanatory text, Daniel Stern draws on the latest research findings to recreate the baby's world."


Who am I?

Erica Komisar is a licensed clinical social worker, psychoanalyst, and parent guidance expert who has been in private practice in New York City for over 30 years. A graduate of Georgetown and Columbia Universities and The New York Freudian Society, Ms. Komisar is a psychological consultant bringing parenting and work/life workshops to clinics, schools, corporations, and childcare settings. She is a contributor to The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The New York Daily News. She is a Contributing Editor to The Institute For Family Studies and appears regularly on Fox and Friends and Fox 5 News


I wrote...

Chicken Little the Sky Isn't Falling: Raising Resilient Adolescents in the New Age of Anxiety

By Erica Komisar,

Book cover of Chicken Little the Sky Isn't Falling: Raising Resilient Adolescents in the New Age of Anxiety

What is my book about?

This is a guide for parents who want to raise emotionally healthy and resilient adolescents in a time of great stress where anxiety and mental health disorders are epidemic.

In these times of great stress for our kids, resilience is not a given. The epidemic of mental health disorders in adolescents has made parenting even more challenging, but parents can still have an enormous impact on the health and well-being of their child. This book offers parents the tools they need to navigate this tumultuous time of change and create a continuous deep connection with their child. With covered topics such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, behavioral issues, and addiction, parents will learn how they can recognize mental health disorders as well as obtain compassionate and practical advice on how to address these issues if they occur

Becoming Attached

By Robert Karen,

Book cover of Becoming Attached: First Relationships and How They Shape Our Capacity to Love

Becoming Attached chronicles the conception and rise of one of the most important psychological theories: attachment theory. In doing so, it also tells the story of the mother-child bond and how our earliest relationships shape who we are and how we love. This book will delight and fascinate you. It will also leave you with clear, evidence-based knowledge of how to build and maintain a strong and loving relationship with your baby.

Becoming Attached

By Robert Karen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Becoming Attached as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The struggle to understand the infant-parent bond ranks as one of the great quests of modern psychology, one that touches us deeply because it holds so many clues to how we become who we are. How are our personalities formed? How do our early struggles with our parents reappear in the way we relate to others as adults? Why do we repeat with our own children--seemingly against our will--the very behaviors we most disliked about our parents? In Becoming Attached, psychologist and noted journalist Robert Karen offers fresh insight into some of the most fundamental and fascinating questions of emotional…


Who am I?

I’m a clinical and developmental psychologist, a parenting researcher at the University of Queensland, and a mother. My research is focused on applying and commitment therapy (ACT) to parenting including the parenting of children with neurodevelopmental disabilities. I wrote Becoming Mum while becoming a mother for the first time. In fact, much of the book was written while I cuddled my new baby, my laptop propped up on my knees so I could write! I am also the first author of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy the Clinician’s Guide to Supporting Parents. It is the first clinical manual on using ACT with parents.


I wrote...

Becoming Mum

By Koa Lou Whittingham,

Book cover of Becoming Mum

What is my book about?

Becoming Mum supports all women through the psychological ups and downs of becoming a mother, covering the journey from the earliest days right through infancy with advice for specific challenges from miscarriage to postnatal depression to preterm birth. Becoming Mum is grounded in the latest research and lived experience.

You will discover: your unique parenting values, and how to harness these to become a confident and happy mother, how to use mindfulness and acceptance to create a loving bond with your baby and support your baby's emotional development, techniques for coping with criticism, unhelpful advice, distressing emotions, and physical pain, how to keep your romantic relationship healthy and your support network strong, flexible, step by step strategies for facing major challenges that can be adapted to your personal circumstances.

Animal Husbandry

By Laura Zigman,

Book cover of Animal Husbandry

I would argue that this novel set up the formula for fresh funny self-deprecating women characters that become heroines of their own stories. Later made into a movie with Ashley Judd and titled Someone Like You, the heroine compares modern-day dating to the rituals of mating in the animal kingdom to hilarious results.  

Animal Husbandry

By Laura Zigman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Animal Husbandry as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New cow...

Ray makes the move. Jane feels the rush. Ray says the L-word. Jane breaks her lease. Then suddenly, inexplicably, he dumps her. Just. Like. That.

...old cow.

Now black is the only color in Jane's closet and Kleenex is clinging to her nose. Why did it happen? How could it have happened?

Moo.

Jane is going to get an answer. Not from Ray. Not from her best friends, David and Joan. But from an astounding new discovery of her own: The Old-Cow-New-Cow theory.

Forced to move into the apartment of a womanizing alpha male named Eddie, Jane is…


Who am I?

I'm a publishing executive turned self-help expert who frequents national morning shows to talk about clutter. Full disclosure, I'm a recovering shopaholic with an obsessive need to tidy up people’s homes and offices. My philosophy is simple, I bring order to everything I do, because life shouldn’t be a mess. I've written non-fiction books based on my organizing expertise that has been featured on Oprah, The Today Show, and NPR. I learned that it's never really about the stuff but the journey of self-discovery, a journey that is made easier with a best friend at your side. This journey of the flawed and strong heroine in my latest book, a novel called Best Friend for Hire.


I wrote...

Best Friend for Hire

By Mary Carlomagno,

Book cover of Best Friend for Hire

What is my book about?

Jersey Girl Jessie DeSalvo has her dream job at one of New York’s top publishing companies. After ten years of hard work, the day of her big promotion has arrived. Unfortunately, her company has other ideas. Instead of a corner office, Jessie is handed her pink slip. 

Left with little more than her cell phone and an unusable contact list, Jessie retreats to less-than-fashionable Hoboken, New Jersey, to figure out her life—and deal with the attentions of her loving but inquisitive Italian-American family. Then she accidentally stumbles into a career as a professional best friend—by helping friends and strangers straighten out whatever is wrong with their lives. Her jobs include planning the New Jersey wedding of the year and saving a bankrupt rock club in town. Soon, things get complicated when she falls in love with the club manager—and promises an appearance by Bruce Springsteen. In the end, Jessie realizes that not even “The Boss” can make things right—and that she needs to become her own best friend to be truly happy.

Book cover of The Transforming Power of Affect: A Model for Accelerated Change

Before I learned about emotions, I believed my anxiety and depression had to be managed but could not be healed at the root. Learning that emotions were not under conscious control and that they were physical experiences that had purpose and meaning changed the way I understood myself for the better. It changed my mental health permanently and in the best ways. It gave me permission to be more authentic. I felt less ashamed of my feelings and more confident that I could help myself and be better in relationships.

The Transforming Power of Affect

By Diana Fosha,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Transforming Power of Affect as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first model of accelerated psychodynamic therapy to make the theoretical why as important as the formula for how, Fosha's original technique for catalyzing change mandates explicit empathy and radical engagement by the therapist to elicit and harness the patient's own healing affects. Its wide-open window on contemporary relational and attachment theory ushers in a safe, emotionally intense, experience-based pathway for processing previously unbearable feelings. This is a rich fusion of intellectual rigor, clinical passion, and practical moment-by-moment interventions.


Who am I?

I am a psychoanalyst, AEDP psychotherapist, emotions educator, author, speaker, and blogger. My passion is sharing what I learned in my psychotherapy training with people interested in improving their emotional health. I became increasingly outraged that everyone did not have access to this crucial information on emotions so I started writing and teaching. After almost 20 years of teaching and using the Change Triangle, I have found it to be the most practical tool to increase emotional health and to reduce and heal anxiety and depression at its roots for lasting change. It is a true game-changer for well-being.


I wrote...

It's Not Always Depression: Working the Change Triangle to Listen to the Body, Discover Core Emotions, and Connect to Your Authentic Self

By Hilary Jacobs Hendel,

Book cover of It's Not Always Depression: Working the Change Triangle to Listen to the Body, Discover Core Emotions, and Connect to Your Authentic Self

What is my book about?

Our dysfunctional society teaches us to push away emotions instead of teaching us how to work with emotions in healthy ways. Pushing down emotions like anger, sadness, and joy, is precisely what leads to anxiety, depression, and a feeling of disconnection from our full self. 

It's Not Always Depression shows you how to work with your emotions for greater well-being now and over your lifetime. Through stories of healing and transformation, jargon-free science explanations, and gentle exercises this book teaches us all we need to know about emotions to thrive amidst the many emotional challenges of life. 

Attachment Disturbances in Adults

By Daniel P. Brown, David S. Elliott,

Book cover of Attachment Disturbances in Adults: Treatment for Comprehensive Repair

I was incredibly lucky to spend almost thirteen years learning attachment theory with Dan Brown in a small group setting, meeting with clinicians I highly respected. Dan’s incredible capacity to integrate the theory and literature of developmental psychology, attachment theory, and the wisdom traditions made it clear that the reason trauma doesn’t heal is because of the underlying attachment issues. David Elliott headed the team of co-authors which I am honored to be part of, making the book immensely readable. In 2018 it won the prestigious International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD) Pierre Janet Writing Award.

Attachment Disturbances in Adults

By Daniel P. Brown, David S. Elliott,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Attachment Disturbances in Adults as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Attachment Disturbances in Adults offers an innovative therapeutic model and set of methods for treating adult patients with dismissing, anxious-preoccupied or disorganised attachment. With rich detail, it integrates historical and leading-edge attachment research into practical, effective treatment protocols for each type of insecure attachment. Case transcripts and many sample therapist phrasings illustrate how to apply the methods in practise.


Who am I?

I am someone whose trauma history came out of the blue…while living in a yoga ashram, meditating, and training for triathlons. After almost seven years of ashram life I left, went to graduate school, and explored trauma, attachment, and wisdom traditions in inpatient and outpatient hospital settings, my private practice, and beyond.  I amassed skills sets in trauma treatment (as a supervisor under the guidance of Bessel van der Kolk and Janina Fisher), attachment theory (with Daniel Brown, PhD), compassion (Compassion Focused Therapy & Mindful Self-Compassion), body therapy (as a trainer for Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, practitioner in LifeForce Yoga and Self-Awakening Yoga), and Internal Family Systems.


I wrote...

Becoming Safely Embodied: A Guide to Organize Your Mind, Body and Heart to Feel Secure in the World

By Deirdre Fay,

Book cover of Becoming Safely Embodied: A Guide to Organize Your Mind, Body and Heart to Feel Secure in the World

What is my book about?

It’s the essence of skills used with groups in person and online over the past twenty-five years; as Janina Fisher, PhD said, using the BSE skills “people got better faster.”  Whether you are healing from abandonment issues or from pain or from grief or other trauma/attachment wounding—or whether you are helping someone else to heal—Becoming Safely Embodied is your map and guidebook to finally feeling at home in your internal world, cultivating a body, mind & heart that’s a safe place for rest, reflection, and wellbeing giving you the life you want to live, instead of living in the life your history catapults you into. I can’t wait to share it with you!

Polysecure

By Jessica Fern,

Book cover of Polysecure: Attachment, Trauma and Consensual Nonmonogamy

This one should be required reading for anyone with even a passing interest in non-traditional relationships. Therapist Jessica Fern clearly and thoroughly explains attachment theory—the idea that the way in which we form attachments to our parents in early life fundamentally influences our adult relationships. Whatever your relationship practice, even this part of the book alone can help clarify so much about what makes you feel secure or insecure in your romantic relationships. Fern goes on to explain how these foundation principles of attachment intersect with non-monogamy, jealousy, and trauma, as well as offering her unique HEARTS model for building secure attachment. I absolutely loved the practical and actionable HEARTS model—it’s worth the price of the book alone! 

Polysecure

By Jessica Fern,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Polysecure as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A practical guide to nurturing healthy, loving non-monogamous relationships using attachment theory.

Attachment theory has entered the mainstream, but most discussions focus on how we can cultivate secure monogamous relationships. What if, like many people, you're striving for secure, happy attachments with more than one partner?

Polyamorous psychotherapist Jessica Fern breaks new ground by extending attachment theory into the realm of consensual non-monogamy. Using her nested model of attachment and trauma, she expands our understanding of how emotional experiences can influence our relationships. Then, she sets out six specific strategies to help you move toward secure attachments in your multiple…


Who am I?

I have been practicing some flavor of non-monogamy for over a decade now—and how much has changed in the past few years! In my coaching practice, I’ve seen an increase in clients who are trying to evaluate what kind of relationship is best for them. Many people know that the traditional dating game and lifelong monogamy are not for them, but they also feel concerned, intimidated, or confused by exploring non-monogamy. These books have helped many of my clients get perspective on how non-monogamous relationships work in real life. 


I wrote...

The Smart Girl's Guide to Polyamory: Everything You Need to Know about Open Relationships, Non-Monogamy, and Alternative Love

By Dedeker Winston,

Book cover of The Smart Girl's Guide to Polyamory: Everything You Need to Know about Open Relationships, Non-Monogamy, and Alternative Love

What is my book about?

The Smart Girl's Guide to Polyamory incorporates interviews and real-world advice from women of all ages in nontraditional relationships, as well as exercises for building self-awareness, confidence in communication, and strategies for managing and eliminating jealousy.

Attached

By Amir Levine, Rachel Heller,

Book cover of Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—And Keep—Love

Do you find yourself perennially trapped in relationships that can’t give you what you want? The answer may lie in your attachment style. Attached is an incredibly useful book, which provides a model for relationships that may well help you to understand why you’re always choosing the wrong person. The book uses self-reporting quizzes to help you to figure out your attachment style, and whilst that might sound like a bad horoscope. Attached is genuinely insightful, and will deliver a eureka moment or two. 

Attached

By Amir Levine, Rachel Heller,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Attached as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Over a decade after its publication, one book on dating has people firmly in its grip.”
—The New York Times

We already rely on science to tell us what to eat, when to exercise, and how long to sleep. Why not use science to help us improve our relationships? In this revolutionary book, psychiatrist and neuroscientist Dr. Amir Levine and Rachel Heller scientifically explain why why some people seem to navigate relationships effortlessly, while others struggle.

Discover how an understanding of adult attachment—the most advanced relationship science in existence today—can help us find and sustain love. Pioneered by psychologist John…


Who am I?

 I was the nerdy kid at school, so when I stumbled upon the world of pick-up artists, and the fact you could learn how to get better at dating, I was all over it! In time my coaching and my company grew with the ideology that we wanted to teach practical skills for dating in a way that was inclusive and ethical. 


I wrote...

Do This, Not That: Dating

By Hayley Quinn,

Book cover of Do This, Not That: Dating

What is my book about?

How do you deal with dating apps, that commitment question, or if you want kids but they don't? Do This, Not That: Dating is here to help with all your relationship situations.

Romantic relationships can be full of challenging situations and emotions, and no matter how passionate, frustrated, excited, or downright angry you feel, it’s important for you to communicate and find a solution that works for you and your partner. Whether you’re struggling to find the right words or simply aren’t sure how to approach a topic, this book will give you the tools you need to move forward…or learn when to let go and move on. In Do This, Not That: Dating, you’ll find eighty common relationship issues covering everything from your first date to your first fight—and beyond. 

Baby Bomb

By Kara Hoppe, Stan Tatkin,

Book cover of Baby Bomb: A Relationship Survival Guide for New Parents

Attachment theory – the theory that humans need to form a close emotional bond with a caregiver early in life to survive and thrive – is near and dear to my heart as a therapist and coach for expectant and new parents. Tatkin is a master of human attachment in adult relationships, having created the PACT (psychobiological approach to couple therapy) training for therapists. The book, written with Hoppe, uses the science behind attachment theory to help couples strengthen their relationship and meet each other’s needs as a couple in order to be the best parents they can be. It offers tried and true ways to nurture your couple bond so you can not only be present for your baby, but also for each other.

Baby Bomb

By Kara Hoppe, Stan Tatkin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Baby Bomb as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Before you succeed at parenting, you need to succeed as a couple! Baby Bomb is the resource you need when a new baby turns your life-and your romantic relationship-upside down. A baby is a blessing-and also a completely life-altering event. If you're like many new parents, nothing could have fully prepared you for the exhaustion of late-night feedings, the explosive diapers, the evaporation of your free time, the pure joy, and the moments of pure terror. In the midst of these hazy, early months, it's normal to feel overwhelmed. And when you're overwhelmed, it's easy to put your romantic relationship…


Who am I?

As a trained therapist, educator, and coach for expectant and new parents, I understand on a deep level the importance of creating a strong foundation in building a family. I also was personally humbled at how difficult the transition to parenthood was for me and the challenges it presented in my relationship with my husband. While we’ve grown exponentially, I wanted to make it a little easier for other expectant parents to avoid some of the pitfalls that aren’t spoken about as much in becoming parents. I also wanted to help the new little beings arriving in the world to have more resourced, present parents. It’s a win-win.


I wrote...

Book cover of Preparing for Parenthood: 55 Essential Conversations for Couples Becoming Families

What is my book about?

Couples often spend surprisingly little time getting ready for this huge rite of passage. The first of its kind, this interactive book provides couples with essential conversation-starters and action items to complete before becoming parents. In Preparing for Parenthood, you’ll discover how to transition to parenting in ways that align with your own beliefs and values by: learning the biggest concerns couples face when becoming new parents and how to discuss them; finding your unique strengths as a couple, and addressing challenges as you embark on this journey; and developing greater confidence as parents so you can feel more relaxed and prepared.

This small and indispensable book will help you alleviate stress and answer some of the biggest questions you’ll want to address before your baby arrives.

Love at Goon Park

By Deborah Blum,

Book cover of Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection

If you want to know the real story about “attachment theory” this is the book. Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist Blum, it’s the tale of psychologist Harry Harlow and his experiments with rhesus monkeys and how that changed parenting in America. Fabulous read.

Love at Goon Park

By Deborah Blum,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Love at Goon Park as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the early twentieth century, affection between parents and their children was discouraged,psychologists thought it would create needy kids, and doctors thought it would spread infectious disease. It took a revolution in psychology to overturn these beliefs and prove that touch ensures emotional and intellectual health. In Love at Goon Park, Pulitzer Prize winner Deborah Blum charts this profound cultural shift by tracing the story of Harry Harlow,the man who studied neglect and its life-altering consequences on primates in his lab. The biography of both a man and an idea, Love at Goon Park ultimately invites us to examine ourselves…


Who am I?

I am an anthropologist with a background in evolutionary biology, primate behavior, and cross-cultural approaches to parenting. I taught “The Anthropology of Parenting” for 20 years at Cornell University. The book grew from interviews with anthropologists, pediatricians, and child development experts taking a different stance about parents and babies—that we should look at how babies are designed by evolution and how cultures then interfere with those expectations. My book shows there is no perfect way to raise a child but there are styles in other cultures we can borrow to make our babies, and ourselves, more at ease.


I wrote...

Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent

By Meredith Small,

Book cover of Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent

What is my book about?

Should an infant be encouraged to sleep alone? Is breastfeeding better than bottle-feeding, or is that just a myth of the nineties? How much time should pass before a mother picks up her crying infant? And how important is it really to a baby's development to talk and sing to him or her?

In this ground-breaking book, anthropologist Meredith Small reveals her remarkable findings in the new science of ethnopediatrics. Professor Small joins pediatricians, child-development researchers, and anthropologists across the country who are studying to what extent the way we parent our infants is based on biological needs and to what extent it is based on culture - and how sometimes what is culturally dictated may not be what's best for babies.

Parenting from the Inside Out

By Daniel J. Siegel, Mary Hartzell,

Book cover of Parenting from the Inside Out: How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive

Siegel is a child psychiatrist who deeply understands the importance of attachment theory and neurobiology. This book, written with child development specialist and parent educator Hartzell, invites parents to deeply examine their own childhood experiences and how they have shaped us. It provides clear exercises for making sense of our past in an effort to provide the best, emotionally, for our children. As a therapist, I believe there is no greater gift to ourselves and our children than working towards our own healing, which helps prevent the transmission of “generational trauma” to our children. This book also focuses on the importance of “repair” after there have been ruptures in the relationship with our children. This in itself is invaluable.

Parenting from the Inside Out

By Daniel J. Siegel, Mary Hartzell,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Parenting from the Inside Out as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An updated edition—with a new preface—of the bestselling parenting classic by the author of "BRAINSTORM: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain"

In Parenting from the Inside Out, child psychiatrist Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., and early childhood expert Mary Hartzell, M.Ed., explore the extent to which our childhood experiences shape the way we parent. Drawing on stunning new findings in neurobiology and attachment research, they explain how interpersonal relationships directly impact the development of the brain, and offer parents a step-by-step approach to forming a deeper understanding of their own life stories, which will help them raise compassionate and…


Who am I?

As a trained therapist, educator, and coach for expectant and new parents, I understand on a deep level the importance of creating a strong foundation in building a family. I also was personally humbled at how difficult the transition to parenthood was for me and the challenges it presented in my relationship with my husband. While we’ve grown exponentially, I wanted to make it a little easier for other expectant parents to avoid some of the pitfalls that aren’t spoken about as much in becoming parents. I also wanted to help the new little beings arriving in the world to have more resourced, present parents. It’s a win-win.


I wrote...

Book cover of Preparing for Parenthood: 55 Essential Conversations for Couples Becoming Families

What is my book about?

Couples often spend surprisingly little time getting ready for this huge rite of passage. The first of its kind, this interactive book provides couples with essential conversation-starters and action items to complete before becoming parents. In Preparing for Parenthood, you’ll discover how to transition to parenting in ways that align with your own beliefs and values by: learning the biggest concerns couples face when becoming new parents and how to discuss them; finding your unique strengths as a couple, and addressing challenges as you embark on this journey; and developing greater confidence as parents so you can feel more relaxed and prepared.

This small and indispensable book will help you alleviate stress and answer some of the biggest questions you’ll want to address before your baby arrives.

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