Bringing practice into theory: Reflective practice and attachment theory


  • Maree Foley A PhD candidate in the Department of Management and International Business at the University of Auckland Business School and an NZ Registered Psychotherapist and full member of NZACAP.
  • Mary Nash A Life Member of ANZASW and lecturer at Massey University.
  • Robyn Munford Co-leader of a FRST-funded research project on young people’s pathways to resilience. School of Health and Social Services, Massey University.



social work practice, attachment theory, practice based reflection, reflexive practice,


The relationship between social work practice and attachment theory has been longstanding 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 setting. 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.


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How to Cite

Foley, M., Nash, M., & Munford, R. (2017). Bringing practice into theory: Reflective practice and attachment theory. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 21(1), 39–47.