In what ways can attachment theory help us to better understand the role of youth minister?

Attachment Theory states that an individual’s relationship with their primary caregiver in early childhood has a profound impact on their development. Patterns of interaction observed within this relationship are recorded in an internal working model which determines how this individual will relate to others. The internal working model operates subconsciously; however, research shows that the information stored within the internal working model can be accessed and modified during adolescence.

This dissertation explores the ways Attachment Theory informs the role of the youth minister and considers how a youth minister can facilitate a young person’s attachment to God.
A review of the relevant literature demonstrates that a relationship with God can qualify as an attachment bond. Further investigation into the development and organisation of internal working models highlights the dominant influence of a primary attachment relationship. However, a theological understanding of the Trinity, the relationship at the core of God’s being, offers an alternative perspective: that humanity was created, primarily, to be in relationship with the Triune God.

Discussion on the nature of a relationship between a youth worker and young person recognises that the youth worker cannot fulfil the role of attachment figure within professional boundaries. Yet, new social experiences can engage with information stored in an internal working model. Therefore, as this dissertation concludes, the youth minister facilitates a young person’s attachment to God by inviting the young person into a relationship where they can experience the presence of the living God

Clare Cronin

Clare studied with CYM for 3 years achieving a distinction in her MA in Youth and Community Work and Practical Theology