GEN PRAC 5007 - Attachment across the Lifespan

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2015

Emotional security has a significant impact on our ability to function as an adult. This subject will introduce students to the theoretical basis for this area, covering areas such as patterns of infant attachment, relevant childhood development theories, challenges of adolescence, adult attachment styles, how different attachment issues may manifest at different stages of life, and practical implications of the theories. Teaching will include lectures and seminars involving class discussion and small-group activities.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code GEN PRAC 5007
    Course Attachment across the Lifespan
    Coordinating Unit General Practice
    Term Semester 1
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 2 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange N
    Course Description Emotional security has a significant impact on our ability to function as an adult. This subject will introduce students to the theoretical basis for this area, covering areas such as patterns of infant attachment, relevant childhood development theories, challenges of adolescence, adult attachment styles, how different attachment issues may manifest at different stages of life, and practical implications of the theories. Teaching will include lectures and seminars involving class discussion and small-group activities.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Mark Pearson

    Course Coordinator: Dr Mark Pearson
    Phone: +61 8313 1633
    Location: Level 11, 178 North Terrace
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    Successful completion of this course will enable the student to:
    1 Apply knowledge of attachment theory and research, as well as developmental theories, to counselling and psychotherapy case planning and practice;
    2 Employ an increased understanding of the relationship of attachment theory with life stages, such as infancy, adolescence and adulthood, in the context of counselling and psychotherapy practice;
    3 Recognise the relationship between attachment issues and life events and influences, such as childhood trauma and adult relationship challenges, as well as socio-cultural influences;
    4 Integrate skills in the application of attachment theory and the treatment of attachment disturbances within counselling and psychotherapy practice;
    5 Illustrate knowledge of the challenges that can emerge for clients and counsellors as a result of early attachment patterns, through small-group discussions and written assignments;
    6 Demonstrate advanced ability to formulate, communicate and apply attachment theory and its therapeutic relevance across the lifespan, through written assignments and class discussion.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 1, 2, 3, 5, 6
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 1, 3, 5, 6
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 1, 2, 4, 6
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 3, 4, 5
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 3, 5
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Cassidy, J., & Shaver, P. R. (Eds.) (2008). Handbook of attachment: Theory, research, and clinical applications (2nd ed.). New York: The Guilford Press.

    NOTE: This text is available as an ebook – go to:

    Links to recent literature that will support learning and assignment preparation will be provided, via MyUni.
    Recommended Resources
    Howe, D. (2011). Attachment across the lifecourse. A brief introduction. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Grossmann, K. E., Grossman, K., & Waters, E. (Eds) (2005). Attachment from infancy to adulthood. The major longitudinal studies. New York: Guilford Press.

    Obegi, J. H., & Berant, E. (Eds) (2009). Attachment theory and research in clinical work with adults. New York: The Guildford Press.
    Online Learning

    3.3.1  MyUni

    All students enrolled in a postgraduate coursework program have access to a Postgraduate Coursework Student Centre on MyUni. This course is available on MyUni at

    Please check the website regularly as it may contain announcements that are relevant to your study in the course.
    Weekly lecture notes will be provided via MyUni.

    Links to literature that supports class discussions and assignment preparation will be available via MyUni.

    If you would like the opportunity to network with other students, you can use the Communication features in the site
    Send Email – This feature enables users to send email to fellow students.

    Please note that you also have access to individual MyUni sites for EACH course you are enrolled in. Please check the sites regularly as they may contain important announcements that are relevant to your study in the course.

    3.3.2 Access Adelaide

    Access Adelaide is the name of the online service that allows you to access and, in some cases, amend your records. It can be found at:
    You can log into Access Adelaide to view:
    your enrolment details for any term
    your academic results
    your unofficial academic transcript
    your personal details
    the fees, charges and payments on your University account
    your exam schedule
    your graduation eligibility details.
    As a student you can:
    change your address and telephone details (please inform the Discipline as well) change your password
    set a password clue to help you remember your password.

    3.3.3 Student email

    It is important that you set up your student email and check it regularly. Information from your course coordinator and student administration will be sent to you at your University of Adelaide email address. It is your responsibility to check your email. You will need your student number located on your student card to log in.

    3.3.4 Computers

    Where can I use a computer in the University?
    Computing facilities are provided to students by the University, and there are several suites of computers available, including at the Barr Smith Library and in Hub Central. The University web site has a list of computer labs at: of Adelaide

    3.3.5 Internet Access

    The University provides a free dial-up service to students without the need for a commercial ISP account. This service is available at the cost of a local call to students residing within Adelaide (please refer to your telecommunications provider for confirmation of call costs). Students residing outside these numbers can dial into the University at STD call rates (

    Postgraduate Coursework students will receive a University Funded Quota of 500Mb

  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes

    The course material will be explored through:
    - lectures
    - personal reflection on a weekly basis
    - class discussions
    - small-group learning tasks
    - viewing of relevant YouTube clips
    - reading and assignment preparation.

    In addition to lectures being presented by an experienced practitioner in the field, students will be asked to discuss course material in small groups and relate course material to their own experience. This will enable you to increase your understanding and integration of the content presented. Students will also be encouraged to discuss the links between theory and professional practice and you will be asked to reflect on, and develop awareness regarding the potential influence of your own attachment history on professional practice.

    We hope to create an environment that promotes the practice of individual responsibility as essential, encouraging you to contribute to your own and others’ learning. Respectfully engaging with others within the course will also complement the expectations adopted within current professional workplaces.

    Students will keep a journal through the course and record reflections and responses to the course material. This journal will not form part of the course assessment tasks.


    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The course comprises two hours every week of lecture, seminar and small-group discussions. Sessions will be seminar/workshop format, with a mixture of lectures and interactive exercises, and it is compulsory for all students to attend. Essential readings or on-line video material will be recommended.

    Face to Face lectures and practicals: 2.5 hours / week
    Core/background readings: 6 hours / week
    Preparation of assignments: 4 hours / week
    Learning Activities Summary
    The course content will include the topics as listed in the course timetable (see page 3). The material will be explored through:
    • lectures
    • personal reflection on a weekly basis
    • class discussions
    • small-group learning tasks
    • viewing of relevant Youtube clips
    • reading and assignment preparation.

    Week Topic Lecture
    Week 1 Attachment Theory Overview Overview of psychodynamic principles; Foundations of theory in clinical observation and research  
    Week 2 Patterns of Attachment Overview and details of basic attachment patterns; Parenting skills; Self-reflection activity
    Week 3 Emotional and Brain Development Emotional regulation; the role of memory; the developing brain; exploring an adult attachment measure
    Week 4 Socio-cultural issues Differing cultural views of attachment; Is there an Australian indigenous perspective? Cultural sensitivity in counselling
    Week 5 Trauma and Psychopathology Types of trauma; disorganised attachment; trauma and brain development; dissociation.
    Discussion: Trauma recovery steps
    Week 6 Erikson - Psychosocial Theory Functions of identity; Erikson’s psychosocial theory; Lifespan development
    Week 7 Adolescent Attachment Individuation challenges; Impact of abuse; Adolescent alliance indicators; Kohlberg’s stages of moral development; counselling needs of adolescents

    Week 8

    Adult Attachment
    Assessment measures; The adult attachment interview; Attachment in marriage and friendship; Implications for counsellors

    Week 9 

    Therapeutic Alliances Developing clinical attachments with clients; Common factors in therapy; Overcoming hindering incidents; gathering alliance feedback from clients

    Week 10 

    Applications of Attachment Theory The impact of theory on treatment; Case studies; Practical implications of attachment

    Week 11

    Overview of Attachment Research Prevention and intervention programs; Research implications for clinical practice; Family therapy implications.

    Week 12

    Small-group Learning Tasks Treatment planning; case conceptualisation; therapeutic a support of children; therapist responses to attachment styles; Mindfulness as a support for attachment issues.
    Specific Course Requirements
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    Throughout the course, and particularly in week 12, small-group learning activities will be used as a teaching tool, with close supervision from the lecturer. Students should expect to integrate their background reading of the course textbook and recommended journal articles with learning tasks presented in class.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Assessment Type Weighting Learning Outcome(s) being addressed
    Class Participation Summative 10% 5, 6
    Reading Review 1 - Understanding Attachment Summative 25% 1, 2, 4-6
    Reading Review 2 - Clinical Applications Summative 25% 1-6
    Written Assignment - Attachment Patterns Summative 40% 1-6
    To pass this course, students must attend all sessions within the course, record weekly reflections on course material, as well as submit and achieve a minimum of a Pass (50%) for each component of assessment.
    Assessment Related Requirements
    If special circumstances arise which prevent the student attending any sessions during the course, the student should discuss these with the Course Coordinator. If the student nominates illness as the reason for missing these sessions, a medical certificate will be required. If students are unable to attend a minimum of six sessions, they may be able to Withdraw Not Fail and to re-enrol the following year, but will be required to pay full fees.

    Lecturers will aim to mark and return assignments to students within 4 weeks of the due date, or before the due date for the next assignment (whichever comes earlier).

    Assessment is based upon in-class participation, plus written assignments to be handed up during the course. There is no examination for this course.
    Assessment Detail
    Assessment is based upon in-class participation, plus written assignments to be handed up during the course. There is no examination for this course.

    1 Class Participation 10%
    Assessment by instructor. Students are expected to attend and actively participate in the class discussions and small-group learning tasks. Assessment of class participation is based on consideration of the student's attendance record, their ability to manage time (in terms of attendance and assignment submission), their engagement in developing and fostering group norms for the class, their willingness to offer questions in class, engagement in small-group discussions and learning tasks, their respectful and professional engagement with peers and staff, evidence of their tolerance with peers and clients, and their ability to modify behaviour in response to feedback from peers or staff.

    2 Reading Review 1 – Understanding Attachment
    Max 1,500 words Due date: 27 March 2015
    Summarise your reading of Chapter 5 of the course text Internal Working Models, and reflect on the content. Demonstrate your understanding of the topic by analysing the information with reference to at least one (and no more than 3) of the recommended reading/s (links will be on the server).

    You will be expected to demonstrate: knowledge of the concepts and principles, ability to articulate an argument, analytical and evaluative skills.

    Marking Guide
    Summary of Chapter 5: 20
    Reflection on the content: 10
    Understanding of the topic: 15
    Analysis of the information: 20
    Knowledge of the concepts and principles: 10
    Articulation of an argument: 10
    Analytical and evaluative skills: 10
    APA referencing and style: 5

    3 Reading Review 2 – Clinical Application of Attachment
    Max 1,500 words Due date: 27 April 2015
    Describe and critically reflect on a clinical application of Attachment Theory described in Part 5 of the course text (e.g. Chapters 30, or 32 or 34) in conjunction with several contemporary articles.

    You will be expected to demonstrate: understanding of the clinical application, critical thinking in relation to the suitability of the application, a coherent argument of use of the application.

    Marking Guide
    Ability to describe the clinical application: 20
    Ability to locate, analyse and synthesise information from a variety of sources: 20
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques at advanced levels: 10
    Critical thinking - suitability of the application: 10
    Coherent argument for or against use of application: 20
    Evidence of research – use of current articles: 10
    Correct use of APA referencing: 10

    4 Written Assignment - Attachment pattern challenges
    Max 2,500 words Due date: 22 May 2015
    Work in paris or trios. Choose one attachment classification as described in the course text, and discuss the possible origins of this attachment pattern. Outline the challenges that a person with this relational style may encounter in childhood, adolescence and into adulthood (including parenthood).

     You will be expected to structure the assignment in a clear and coherent manner, (e.g. use a concise introduction and conclusion, one main idea per paragraph, use of headings),clearly describe the pattern across the lifespan, illustrate your understanding of it (e.g. What would this pattern look like? What problems might be presented to a counsellor?) use correct APA style referencing, show evidence of wider and up-to-date reading,, and display an ability to reflect on the impact of this pattern (e.g. What does this mean for the person? What does this mean for those around the person? What does this mean for relationships? What might this mean for counselling treatments?).

    Marking Guide
    Structure of assignment - clear and coherent: 10
    Description of the pattern – across the lifespan: 25
    Illustrate your understanding of it: 25
    Use correct APA referencing style: 10
    Evidence of wider, up to date research: 10
    Ability to reflect on the impact of this pattern: 20
    Word / Time Limits
    Students are advised to comply with word limits for written assignments, and time limits for assignment submission. A 10% leeway on word limits on either side is acceptable.

    Written assignments should be submitted through the “Assignments” section of MyUni. Instructions on how to submit an assignment in this way can be found at:

    Hand-written presentations will not be accepted for the written submissions. All written work must be referenced accurately and consistently, using the American Psychological Society Referencing Format (APA 6). Information regarding this system can be found at or more detailed information can be found at Marks will be deducted for incorrect referencing in all assignments.

    Students must use a course Cover Page. Assignments must be submitted by 5pm on the day that they are due (please note that MyUni will accept assignments after this time but it will be marked Late.) Students should include their name(s) in a header or footer on each page of assignment, and retain a copy for their records. Feedback on the first written assignment will be provided to students before the due date of the second assignment, so that students can take advantage of this feedback.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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