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7 Expert-Approved Books To Take A Deep Dive Into Attachment Styles

Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Writer
By Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Writer
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Writer, and a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.
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December 14, 2021

We all behave differently in our relationships, with one of the biggest factors being our respective attachment styles. As more people become aware of how attachment theory plays out in real life, more resources are becoming available to both learn about your particular style—and improve your relationships.

So, if you want to learn more, we rounded up seven of the top books on attachment theory to get you started.

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A refresher on attachment theory.

Firstly, attachment theory is all about how we relate to others. There are four main attachment styles: secure, anxious, avoidant, and fearful-avoidant (aka disorganized), and they all result in different behavior and approaches when it comes to relationships.

As licensed marriage and family therapist Shane Birkel, LMFT, tells mbg, attachment theory comes down to someone's earliest relationship: the one they had with their parents. This formative relationship is massively influential throughout a person's life, playing out in adulthood as their attachment style.

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Why it's important to know about attachment styles.

Learning about your own attachment style, as well as the attachment styles of the people in your life, can go a long way in understanding yourself, bridging gaps in your relationships, and fostering better understanding between yourself and others.

"It starts to really help people move away from blame and judgment and move toward understanding that their partner is just a very different person than them," Birkel explains. He adds that with his own clients, he always wants to know how they were influenced by early family dynamics, and how they're bringing that into their relationships now.

And of course, if you're a parent, when you're aware of how the four different attachment styles come to be, you can approach your parenting in such a way that fosters a secure attachment style.

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7 books on attachment theory:

The therapist's guide: Attachment Theory in Practice

First on the list, we have Attachment Theory in Practice: Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) With Individuals, Couples, and Families, written by leading attachment theory expert and psychologist, Susan M. Johnson. This is one of the books Birkel had to recommend, and it's all about applying attachment theory to therapy for real results.

Attachment Theory in Practice: Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) With Individuals, Couples, and Families by Susan M. Johnson, $33

Cover of Attachment Theory in Practice
Amazon / Amazon

The reader favorite: The Power of Attachment

Another one of Birkel's recommendations, The Power of Attachment: How To Create Deep and Lasting Intimate Relationships helps readers explore their earliest years of life, their traumas, and how those things are affecting them today. Poole Heller is another leading attachment theory expert, and with this book having an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars, readers have clearly gotten something out of it.

The Power of Attachment: How To Create Deep and Lasting Intimate Relationships by Diane Poole Heller Ph.D., $16.13

Cover of The Power of Attachment
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The interactive one: The Attachment Theory Workbook

If you're looking for more of an interactive way to learn about attachment theory, look no further than The Attachment Theory Workbook: Powerful Tools To Promote Understanding, Increase Stability, and Build Lasting Relationships. This is another one of Birkel's recommendations, and it includes helpful, actionable strategies so you can put your newfound knowledge of attachment theory to work.

The Attachment Theory Workbook: Powerful Tools To Promote Understanding, Increase Stability, and Build Lasting Relationships by Annie Chen, LMFT, $13.79

Cover of The Attachment Theory Workbook
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For couples: Wired for Love

In Wired for Love: How Understanding Your Partner's Brain and Attachment Style Can Help You Defuse Conflict and Build a Secure Relationship, couples can learn about each other and create rituals to strengthen their relationship. This book combines research on the neuroscience of love, attachment theory, and emotion regulation, and offers detailed ways to improve your connection with your partner and understand each other on a deeper level.

Wired for Love: How Understanding Your Partner's Brain and Attachment Style Can Help You Defuse and Build a Secure Relationship by Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT, $17.95

Cover of Wired for Love
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For polyamorous people: Polysecure

If you're in a polyamorous or ethically non-monogamous relationship, it may be particularly important to understand your own, and your partner's attachment style. In Polysecure: Attachment, Trauma and Consensual Nonmonogamy, psychotherapist Jessica Fern unpacks how to work toward secure attachment when in multiple relationships.

Polysecure: Attachment, Trauma and Consensual Nonmonogamy by Jessica Fern, M.S., $15.31

Cover of Polysecure
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The critically acclaimed one: Attached

In Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love, psychiatrist and neuroscientist Amir Levine, M.D., and psychology expert Rachel Heller, M.A., break down what attachment theory is all about, how to figure out which style you have, and of course, how to work with it. And according to the New York Times, "Over a decade after its publication, one book on dating has people firmly in its grip," and it's this one.

Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love by Amir Levine, M.D., and Rachel S.F. Heller, M.A., $12.68

Cover of Attached
Amazon / Amazon

For coping with trauma: Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy With Trauma Survivors

And last but not least, we have another book by attachment theory expert Susan M. Johnson, who Birkel highly recommends for anything attachment-related. This is actually a book meant for therapists to use in couples' therapy with clients who have experienced trauma, though non-clinical reviewers say they still got something out of it on their own.

Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy With Trauma Survivors: Strengthening Attachment Bonds by Susan M. Johnson, $32

cover of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy with Trauma Survivors book
Amazon / Amazon

The bottom line.

There are always ways to improve our relationships and understand each other better. If you want to approach your relationships (from romantic relationships to friendships to your children) in a healthier way, learning about your own attachment style and the attachment style of others is one of the first places you should start.

Sarah Regan
Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Writer

Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Writer, as well as a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.