Chat with us, powered by LiveChat Application of Attachment Theory to a Case Study |


  • Review the same case study you selected from last week’s Assignment. 
  • Use the Analysis of a Theory Worksheet to help you dissect the theory. Use this tool to dissect the theory and employ the information in the table to complete your Assignment.
  • Review attachment theory and the following article listed in the Learning Resources: Foley, M., Nash, M., & Munford, R. (2009). Bringing practice into theory: Reflective practice and attachment theory. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work Review, 21(1–2), 39–47.

 Write the assumptions of attachment theory.Identify the problem in your chosen case study to be worked on from an attachment theory perspective.Explain how attachment theory defines and explains the cause of the problem.Develop two assessment questions that are guided by attachment theory that you would ask the client to understand how the stress or distress, bond, and/or environment is affecting the client.Identify two interventions to address the problem. Remember, the theory should be driving the interventions. In other words, you would not identify systematic desensitization since this is not an intervention guided by attachment theory.Write one self-reflective question that is influenced by attachment theory that you can ask yourself to gain greater empathy for what the client is experiencing.


Submit also, as a separate document, your Week 3 Analysis of a Theory Worksheet.

Be sure to:


Bringing practice into theory:
Reflective practice and attachment
Maree Foley, Mary Nash and Robyn Munford

Maree Foley is a PhD candidate in the Department of Management and International Business at
the University of Auckland Business School, a NZ Registered Psychotherapist and full member of

Mary Nash is a Life Member of ANZASW and lectures at Massey University.

Robyn Munford is co-leader of a FRST-funded research project on young people’s pathways to resil-
ience and works in the School of Health and Social Services, Massey University.


The relationship between social work practice and attachment theory has been longstand-
ing across decades. While much attention has been paid to the use of attachment theory
within specific social work practice settings, less attention has been focused on the use of
attachment theory to guide the social worker in their practice based reflections. This article
explores the potential relevance of attachment theory for use within a reflective practice set-
ting. This exploration is based on key findings from a recent study conducted in Aotearoa
New Zealand. A proposed beginning framework of attachment theory informed reflective
practice is offered for practitioners to explore in their reflective practice.


Exploration of the relationship between theory and practice has been a longstanding endea-
vour within many disciplines including social work (Longhofer & Floersch, 2004; D’Cruz,
Gillingham, & Melendez, 2007, p.74). This paper explores the use of attachment theory to
inform reflective practice and, in turn, to potentially inform social work practice. This explo-
ration is based on a recent Aotearoa New Zealand Masters research study that explored the
relationship between theory and practice, from the vantage point of the social worker (Foley,
2007). This paper begins by providing a brief overview of this study, including a review of
current attachment theory literature for social work practitioner use. Next, a summary of
the study’s findings is reported.

The remainder of this paper attends to the authors’ reflections on how the raw findings
might usefully inform reflective practice. It is postulated that knowledge of attachment
theory can be useful for the practitioner to increase understanding of both shared and unique
protective and adaptive behaviours within a practice setting where their capacity to think,
reflect and make meaningful connections may become compromised. Based on these postu-


lations, an exploration of bringing key dynamics of social work practice with children and
families into attachment theory is explored. This exploration is followed by the beg

Worksheet: Dissecting a Theory and Its Application to a Case Study

Most theories can be dissected and analyzed. All theories will tell you something about their focus or unit of analysis. A theory will identify its major or key concepts. It will also point to the definition of the problem and its cause. This then guides how the social worker assesses and intervenes because the theory will also articulate the role of the social worker and how change occurs.

Basic Assumptions of the Theory

Directions: For each section, respond in 2 to 3 sentences to the following prompts. Where relevant, provide citations to support your claims.

Name of theory: Systems theory

Name of theorist: Biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy

What are the major assumptions of the theory?

The different assumptions of the theory include self-organization, interdependence, effect, reflexivity, and observation. These assumptions play a significant role in helping in the establishment of the differences between cybernetics and system theory from other sciences.

What are the theory’s key concepts?

The theory is shaped by three key concepts which must be comprehended in the procedure of the theory analysis. The first concept is a system, an entity organized and composed of interrelated and interdependent parts. Homeostasis is the second element, and it is a system that tends to portray resilience towards the external jurisdiction and strives to sustain its essential characteristics. Lastly are boundaries, obstructions that describe a system from other systems present in the environment.

What is the theory’s focus or unit of analysis?

The system theory relies on complexity and interdependence. From the description, the system comprises interdependent groups of events that mingle regularly and establish the plan.

What is the theory’s overall explanation for the cause of problems?

In problem description, system theory focuses widely on the entire picture and does not significant on a single element of the scenario. It emphasizes the whole concept and has a broad appreciation of the relationships on different levels, thus acquiring an interdisciplinary approach. Therefore, according to this theory, the emergence of a problem only occurs after reviewing the situation in context.

Application to a Case Study <Ella Schultz

Directions: For each section, respond to the following prompts. Where relevant, provide citations

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Theory Into Practice: Four Social Work Case Studies

In this course, you select one of the following four case studies and use it throughout
the entire course. By doing this, you will have the opportunity to see how different
theories guide your view of a client and that client’s presenting problem. Each time you
return to the same case, you will use a different theory, and your perspective of the
problem will change—which then changes how you ask assessment questions and how
you intervene.

Table of Contents

Ella Schultz ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 2

Paula Cortez ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 9

Sam Franklin ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 10

Helen Petrakis ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 13

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Ella Schultz

Identifying Data
Ella Schultz is a 16-year-old White female of German decent. She was raised in Ohio.
Ella’s family consists of her father, Robert (44 years old), and her mother, Rose (39
years old). Ella currently resides in a residential group home, where she has been since
she ran away from home. Ella has been provided room and board in the residential
treatment facility for the past 3 months. Ella describes herself as bi-sexual.

Presenting Problem
Ella has been living homeless for 13 months. She has been arrested on two occasions
for shoplifting and once for loitering (as a teen in need of supervision) in the last 7
months. Ella has recently been court ordered to reside in a group home with counseling.
She refuses to return home due to the abuse she experienced. After 3 months at Teens
First, Ella said she is thinking about reinitiating contact with her mother. She has not
seen either parent in 6 months and missed the stability of the way her family “used to
be,” although she is also conflicted due to recognizing the instability of her family. Ella is
confused about the path to follow.

Family Dynamics
Ella indicates that her family worked well until her father began drinking heavily about 3
years ago. She remembers her parents being social and going out or having friends
over for drinks, but she never remembered them becoming drunk. Then, her father lost
his job as an information technology (IT) support professional and was unable to find
meaningful work. He took on part-time jobs at electronics stores, but they left him
demoralized. Her parents stopped socializing, and then her father was fired from his last
job because he arrived drunk. Ella’s father would regularly be drunk

Analysis of Theory Worksheet

Use this worksheet to help you apply a theory as a lens to the case study for your assignments. Fill in the column on the right with all applicable information, and then consider it a reference for how to apply the theory. You must submit this worksheet, where indicated, in applicable assignments. Then you will compile the worksheet for your Theories Study Guide (that you can use for the licensure exam) at the end of the course.

Name of theory

Author or founder

Historical origin of theory

Basic assumptions

Underlying assumptions

Key concepts

Foci/unit of analysis

Philosophical or conceptual framework

Strengths of theory

Limitations of theory

Common criticisms

When and with whom it would be appropriate to use the theory/model

Consistency of theory/model with social work principles

Identification of goodness of fit with ethical principles

Ways in which theory/model informs research methods

Implications for social work practice


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