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Development of Attachment and its Application to CYCC Practice

Course Code: CYCC 4470
Faculty: Child, Family & Community Studies
Department: Child and Youth Care
Credits: 3.0
Semester: Flexible delivery ranging over 2 to 15 weeks
Learning Format: Lecture
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

The focus of this course will be to provide an overview of attachment theory from infancy to adolescence and its clinical application for CYCC practitioners. The content includes a discussion of attachment theory, psycho-biological origins of infant attachment, understanding the attachment process from infancy to adolescence, cross-cultural patterns of attachment, and clinical applications of attachment theory and research.

Course Content

The following global ideas guide the design and delivery of this course:

  • As child and youth care practice focuses around the importance of building strong relationships with children and youth, it is important for the CYC practitioner to understand the process of attachment, how it changes and how it can be affected across the life span.
  • Brain research has identified that attachment is a regulatory system that starts to develop in infancy and continues to develop throughout life via the process of dynamic, responsive interaction.
  • The process of responsive caregiving enables the child to learn to sooth and calm his or her self.  This self knowledge of what to do when faced with adversity enables the development of self-regulation.
  • Children who have experienced early trauna often lack the ablility to self-regulate.
  • Self-regulation is a necessary quality for affecction and attachment
  • A number of factors can affect the attachment process:
    • Parenting style
    • Parent illness
    • The child's temperament
    • The child's physical and/or medical appearance.
  • Children and youth who have a strong attachment to their primary caregiver:
    • Have less difficulty with change
    • Are more confident
    • Have empathy for others
    • Are less likely to suffer mental healthcare issue
  • Children who are insecure in their attachment:
    • Are more likely to find it difficult when creating relationships with others
    • Have an increased tendency towards mental health care issues
  • Physical proximity to the primary caregiver and the family unit decreases as the child ages and friends and romantic attachments become important.  However, the family unit still remains a secure base from which to negotiate autonomy well into young adulthood.
  • Although the attachment process is though to be universal, there are a number of different beliefs, vlaues and practices that surround it cross culturally.
  • Attachment theory has affected how we take care of our children in the home, hospital, and in childcare.  Current laws around maternity and paternity leave, custody agreements and foster care all grow out of the understanding of the importance of these early relationships to later psycho-social development.  Currently, a number of researchers are utilizing attachment theory to guide intervention practices with conduct disordered youth and their families.

Methods of Instruction

  • Letcure
  • Group work
  • Student presentations
  • Audiovisual presentations
  • Other

Means of Assessment

This course will conform to Douglas College policy regarding the number and weighting of evaluations. Typical means of evaluation would include a combination of:

  • Written research assignments
  • Case evaluation
  • Group presentations

This is a graded course.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Understand the process of secure attachment from infancy to adolescence
    • Describe parenting and the attachment process
    • Understand the normative process
    • Understand the relationship between attachment and temperament
  2. Discuss the relationship between early attachment and later relationships when considering:
    • Pair bonds
    • Romantic attachments
  3. Understand the implications of disruptions in the attachment process
    • Critically analyze the challenges faced by children in foster and adoptive care
    • Consider the implications of loss and then grief to the attachment process
  4. Understand the psycho-biology of the attachment process
    • Describe the neural constituents of attachment
    • Discuss the social regulation of emotion
    • Understand the relationship between responsive caregiving and physical arousal
  5. Describe cross cultural variations in the attachment process
  6. Discuss attachment issues in atypical populations
  7. Discuss contemporary clinical applications of attachment theory

course prerequisites

Completion of CYCC 3340 and 3341 or permission of the instructor

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.