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What is The Circle of Security?

Developing Specific Relationship Capacities

portrait of John Bowlby


he Circle of Security is a visual map of attachment. The “father” of attachment theory, John Bowlby, said this about attachment: "Intimate attachments to other human beings are the hub around which a person's life revolves, not only as an infant or a toddler or a schoolchild but throughout adolescence and years of maturity as well, and on into old age. From these intimate attachments a person draws strength and enjoyment of life and, through what he contributes, gives strength and enjoyment to others. These are matters about which current science and traditional wisdom are at one." (Bowlby, J. (1980) Attachment and Loss: Volume 1. Attachment. Basic Books: New York.)

Figure 1: The Circle of Security for the toddler and preschool years.

The Circle of Security: A Visual "Map" of Caregiver-Child Attachment

At Circle of Security International, we focus on training providers with many different backgrounds and from many different disciplines to help caregivers connect with the children in their lives. The Circle of Security figure is a central visual used as part of interventions for caregivers, all of which are focused on helping caregivers reflect upon children’s attachment needs in order to promote secure attachment with a child.

The following video uses some of our graphics to make the case for why the Circle of Security is important for caregivers to think about:

This short video reviews the importance of human connection and how the Circle of Security helps caregivers orient to young children’s attachment needs.

Download the "Good Enough" video HERE.

You can watch this video along with the rest of our videos on our Vimeo page.

Here are some founding principles that underlie the Circle of Security models of intervention:


Attachment problems in infancy and early childhood increase the probability of psychopathology later on in life.


Secure attachment relationships with caregivers are a protective factor for infants and preschoolers, setting the foundation for social competence and promoting effective functioning of the emotion regulation and stress response systems.


The quality of the attachment relationship is amenable to change.


Learning, including therapeutic change, occurs from within a secure base relationship.


Lasting change in the attachment relationship comes from caregivers’ developing specific relationship capacities rather than learning techniques to manage behavior.


All caregivers want what is best for their children.

Languages, Materials & Translations

Since the original COSP program was released in 2010, the video and all materials have been translated into these languages: Cantonese, Danish, French, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Norwegian, Romanian, Spanish and Swedish.

We have partial translations (either full video translations but not all materials or sub-titled video translations) in these languages: Arabic, Estonian, Hebrew and Turkish.

Below, you will find translation of our basic Circle graphic in many of these languages plus others.

One of our goals at Circle of Security International is to assist providers from various helping professions in introducing others to the principles of attachment. Our handouts can be useful tools for such introductions and are provided here for download to be used for caregiver support.

For specific requests related to publishing COSI materials, including the Circle of Security diagram, please email angie[at]circleofsecurityinternational[dot]com to receive a permission request agreement. You will be asked to submit a summary or excerpt from your publication, and approval is given only to nonprofit organizations and academic/professional publications. Please allow at least 4 weeks for review and approval.

For information on our translation policies, and to apply to translate the COSP materials into a new language, visit our Translations of COSP page.

The Circle of Security Materials

Adolescent Circle of Security Diagram - English
Adolescent Circle of Security Diagram - Swedish
Security in 25 Words or Less
COS: Full Circle

The Circle of Security Diagram

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