SWO-582 Attachment, Neurobiology, and Social Work Practice

This course addresses the important influences of early and later attachment relationships on one’s cognitive, emotional, relational, and neurobiological development. It looks at the ways that interpersonal, community, and cultural connections serve critical neurobiological functions in regulating a person’s sense of security and containment, and capacities to act on his/her strengths. 

The class examines contemporary research in attachment theory, interpersonal communication, and brain development to understand many clients’ presenting symptoms as products of adaption to chronic, extreme stress with limited essential relational and community resources. Students look through a lens of interpersonal neurobiology at common child and adult symptoms of post-traumatic stress-related learning difficulties, anxiety, and depression; dysregulation of behaviors associated with violence and addiction; and difficulties negotiating relationships. They learn about the brain’s capacity to change throughout one’s life and about specific individual and community interventions that promote these changes. Students support each other’s attachment roles as neurobiological facilitators of their clients’ capacities to build more integrated strength-based personal narratives and to act on the naturally accompanying regulation of their behaviors.