Internal Working Model

According to Bowlby, infants’ attachment with their primary caregiver leads to the development of an internal working model, which is a set of assumptions about others, oneself, and the world.  How the caregiver treats the infant will become a guide for future relationships.  The idea here is that if someone responded to you quickly and cared for you well, you will seek that type of attentive, loving care in a relationship, because you feel worthy of being treated well and it is what you expect.  If your main caregiver was inconsistently available or overwhelmed, you might seek that out in future relationships, thinking that is how relationships are supposed to be, and that is how you deserve to be treated (Berk, 2013). 


Changing these internal working models is hard to do, but there are therapists who are knowledgeable about attachment theory who can help.  You can go to, click on “Find A Therapist” and then click on “Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy” or whatever type of therapy you want.  You can also search by insurance provider or the topic that you want them to be really good at treating, like depression, anxiety, PTSD, attachment problems, ADHD, autism, whatever it is.  It’s a great way to find a good therapist in your area. 



Berk, L. E. (2013). Child development (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.