Attachment and Attunement

Although all natural systems have inborn processes for Regulation and development of a flexible stress response and other systems, for people, REGULATION has to be developed just like the other functions of the Brain-Body.   How does this happen?

Brain Development is BUILT through loving interaction of infants and young children with parents, older children and other adults - ATTACHMENT and ATTUNEMENT - who have their basic needs met and are acknowledged and valued by their families, communities and cultures.

While attachment and attunement are particularly important in early life, they are part of positive, healthy relationships across the life course between parents and children, teachers and students, friends, and romantic partners.

ATTACHMENT is the enduring connection we feel with others - and a
  • Key ingredient of healthy Early Child Development.  
  • Deep and emotional bond between people, particularly parent-child, family-friends, romantic partners.  

ATTACHMENT results in feelings of a secure base, a safe haven, emotional closeness, comfort and protection.
Separation can cause distress.

 ATTUNEMENT is being “tuned in” to another person or a group.  

ATTUNEMENT is being present, aware and appropriately responsive with others - and with ourselves.  Attunement within the parent-child DYAD is created by the CYCLE of a parent SENSING a child’s feelings and needs – and RESPONDING to those needs – matching their rhythm, affect and experience.  

ATTUNEMENT establishes a sense of security within the child and allows the child to self-regulate emotions and develop thinking.
ATTUNEMENT between a pair (a DYAD) is also called CO-REGULATION. 


BOOK:  Brandt, Perry, Seligman, Tronick (2014). Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health.  
Pioneering work on infant-parent mental health exploring challenges from child trauma to autism spectrum disorders, using neurologically and relationally based therapies.

Beebe (2012) The origins of 12-month attachmentAttach Hum Dev.  CLASSIC STUDY.   A microanalysis of 4-month mother-infant face-to-face communication revealed a fine-grained specification of communication processes that predicted 12-month insecure attachment outcomes, particularly resistant and disorganized classifications.

Benoit (2004)  Infant-parent attachment:   Definition, types, antecedents, measurement and outcome.  Paediatrics Child Health.  Attachment is where the child is able to connect with the primary caregiver as a secure base from which to explore and, when necessary, as a haven of safety and a source of comfort