Adult attachment as a predictor and moderator of psychotherapy outcome: A meta-analysis

Kenneth N. Levy, Yogev Kivity, Benjamin N. Johnson, Caroline V. Gooch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Bowlby’s attachment theory describes characteristic patterns of relating to close others and has important implications for psychotherapy. Attachment patterns have been characterized as secure (healthy interdependence with others), anxious (overdependence on others), and avoidant (difficulty relying on others). We update a previous meta-analysis to determine the association of patient attachment with psychotherapy outcome. Meta-analysis of 36 studies (3,158 patients) suggested that patients with secure attachment pretreatment show better psychotherapy outcome than insecurely attached patients. Further, improvements in attachment security during therapy may coincide with better treatment outcome. Finally, preliminary moderator analyses suggest that those who experience low pretreatment attachment security may find better treatment outcome in therapy that incorporates a focus on interpersonal interactions and close relationships. The article closes with research limitations, diversity considerations, and therapeutic practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1996-2013
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of clinical psychology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology


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