Child's first steps

Attachment theory: how children learn what to expect from relationships (DAA013)

Discover the key principles of attachment theory

This course is also available as part of a cost-saving course bundle.

This five-hour, CPD certified course provides an online introduction to the fundamental principles of attachment theory. You’ll explore how the dynamics of early relationships influence how children interact with the world in later life, and the impact of these on their development and resilience.

Aims and learning objectives

Focusing on John Bowlby’s seminal attachment theory, this course explores how children’s innate ability to adapt to their surroundings can lead to both short-term gains and long-term costs – forming behavioural patterns that are ingrained in the mind, brain and body.

Presenting the key ideas that form the basis of attachment theory alongside relevant case examples, the course provides valuable insights into the enduring impact of early relationships, which can help to inform your own interactions with children and young people.

You will learn by:

  • exploring key concepts through interactive lecture content and videos
  • deepening your understanding via regular opportunities for reflection
  • considering a case study to help apply the theory to your work
  • testing your knowledge with a multiple choice quiz to access your CPD certificate

Who is this course for?

We welcome anyone to this course who has a keen interest in the subject area.

In particular, this course is for you if you work with children and families and wish to learn more about cutting-edge research findings and how these can be used in your work.

You may be working in:

  • a school
  • social services
  • healthcare
  • the voluntary sector
  • or you may be considering work with children in the future

Course details

This interactive course runs continuously, so you can sign up at any time. It offers five hours of self-directed online learning which you can undertake at a time, pace and location that suits you.

You will have access to the course and its materials for one year. Access begins the day after you’ve booked, when you will receive your account details by email.

This mini course is also available as part of the Understanding and Nurturing Troubled Children course bundle, a convenient option that offers one year’s access to four complementary courses.

This course will allow you to:

  • identify the positive benefits of ‘healthily stressful’ experiences, which can build resilience, as well as empathic, attuned parenting, and the ability to reflect on mental states
  • learn what happens when early experiences are too stressful, and how adaptive coping strategies can become unhelpful defences in the longer term
  • gain an understanding of the four main kinds of attachment relationship, how these attachment styles form, and why – with reference to a number of key studies
  • examine the role of attachment in personality development, and the link between attachment patterns and states of mind

There are no specific requirements for the course, although we suggest you are working with, or have an interest in working with children, or want to learn more about the effects of difficult early experiences on children’s minds and behaviours.

There’s a multiple choice question assessment at the end of the course, which provides access to your Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust CPD certificate upon completion.

Course facilitators


CPD logo

This course has been independently evaluated for Continuing Professional Development purposes by the CPD Certification Service. This means that the learning activity meets global CPD standards and benchmarks, and the learning value has been scrutinised to ensure integrity and quality.

Book your place today

Our Digital Academy mini courses run continuously so you can join at any time. Access begins the day after you’ve booked, when you will receive your login details by email.

Save with our cost-effective bundles

This course is also available as part of a convenient, cost-saving bundle – providing you with one year’s access to four complementary online resources.

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