How a sample of residential childcare staff conceptualize and use attachment theory in practice

Ailsa Morison, Emily Taylor, Mhairi Gervais

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Attachment theory features throughout policy and research for young people in residential care. However, there is limited empirical understanding of how this translates into practice. This research therefore aimed to construct an explanatory theory of how residential staff make sense of, and use, attachment theory in practice. It also aimed to identify whether any components of attachment theory are particularly salient to staff and to what extent their conceptualizations draw upon contemporary attachment theory. Constructivist grounded theory was used in the form of twenty interviews with staff, through an iterative process of data collection and analysis, theoretical sampling, and member reflections. Results indicate that staff focus upon a natural process of building relationships, often without a coherent narrative to describe attachment theory to practice links. This natural process is challenged by tensions within the residential system. Findings are contextualized within existing research and future recommendations are outlined.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-27
JournalChild and Youth Services
Issue number1
Early online date12 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • residential childcare
  • attachment
  • staff
  • relationships
  • accommodated


Dive into the research topics of 'How a sample of residential childcare staff conceptualize and use attachment theory in practice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this