Date of Conferral
Recent studies have shown significant improvements in the attachment security of adult therapy clients during therapy, supporting Bowlby's theory that such improvement can be influenced by secure-base caregiving provided by mentors such as therapists. However, because these studies did not measure the secure-base variable, its relationship to client attachment development remains unknown. The present study is the first to evaluate that relationship by measuring clients' pre and posttherapy attachment security using the Relationship Scales Questionnaire and therapists' secure-base caregiving using the Client Attachment to Therapist and Working Alliance Inventory, Short Form. Of 21 initially insecure client participants, 17 experienced high levels of secure-base caregiving from their therapists (the SBC-High group) while 4 experienced low levels (the SBC-Low group). Comparison of pre and posttherapy group mean attachment scores, using the Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Test, found a statistically significant improvement (a = .01) in attachment security for the SBC-High group with no statistical change in attachment security for the SBC-Low group. These findings suggest that therapists and other mentors can positively influence the attachment development of their insecure mentees. Purposeful incorporation of this knowledge into the design and goals of existing graduate and professional mentoring programs can positively influence regenerative social change by promoting the attachment security of approximately one third of mentees expected to be insecurely attached, based on demographic studies. Improving their attachments can equip them to positively influence the attachments of all their future insecure clients who, like them, might then realize the multiple benefits associated with attachment security.