Discover the courage to live wholeheartedly

Blog

Brave Therapy™ is a blog site created by Andrea Szasz, a Psychotherapist and Counsellor living and practicing in Sydney, Australia.

How secure are you? Notes on Attachment Theory

We are not born with a developed self. As babies we do not know consciously what we need and what we want, not even what we feel. We  learn how to regulate our nervous system and our affect via our primary attachment relationship. Our brains get wired via emotional and sensory interactions with our primary caregiver, and it is through these interactions that we get to know our body and begin to develop a sense of self.

When a baby fusses around, the good enough mom (Winnicott) will try to figure out what is going on for that little being. The baby learns in an implicit way that her actions have certain, if everything  goes well, predictable consequences. The secure base of this relationship helps us to explore the world around us. Through this process we develop our self-agency, and learn that our actions and intentions have an effect and create responses from people around us (Knox, 2011).

Difficulties in developing secure attachment in the first few years of life can interrupt the self-development process. The consequences of these interruptions can leave us with serious relational, psychological, spiritual and physical health problems.

Attachment theory views the sense of self as essentially relational. The unconscious sense of self is formed by internalisation of a relational dynamic between self and other (Knox, 2011).

Here is a little video that explains attachment theory:

Or you can read about it here:

The self experience or attachment states of mind as adults, can be described using the four attachment styles according to McLean (2013):

Secure:

I am free to ask for help as I am lovable. Others are useful and reliable. I can express emotions openly, and clearly. I value relationships. I have a strong sense of agency.

Dismissive or Avoidant:

I have to do everything myself, others are not helpful or they will reject me. Being needy is shameful. I avoid or minimise feelings. My focus is on being independent, strong, achievements, fun and material success.  My childhood memory is scarce.

Preoccupied or Anxious Ambivalent:

I can’t do it by myself but others are not trustworthy. I feel anxious, angry or blaming. I often feel helpless and hopeless. My memories can be vivid. I am often overwhelmed.

Disorganised:

I can’t do it, but others will make it even worse. The ones that should help are frightening or frightened. I often feel dreadful, disconnected, confused, fragmented, bad and afraid.

 

The research shows that attachment patterns are enduring through the lifespan and transmitted through generations.  The good news is that attachment patterns can be changed via supportive secure relationships and in-depth psychotherapy. Anyone can have as we call it earned secure attachment.

If you relate to the any of the insecure or disorganised attachment states of mind (above), it might be worthwhile to find an attachment informed psychotherapist. To move towards security, therapy needs to be regular, emotional based interaction between the responsive and safe therapist and the client. It is important that therapists have their own therapy and know their own attachment styles (Wallin, 2007).

For example an avoidant therapist might not be best suited to an avoidant client. They might have fun or intriguing, intellectual conversations but the client won’t be able to move forward towards security.

Therapy needs to integrate the emotional and implicit parts of the brain and body system, The use of creative, conversational or somatic, body-based resources can be very effective in the therapeutic relationship (Meares, 2007, Levine, 1997).

While there are many simple online resources to find out your attachment state of mind, the most reliable and validated assessment tool is the Adult Attachment Interview. It can be an expensive and somewhat time consuming adventure to have your AAI done, it can help clearly identify the clinical focus of therapy and possible unresolved traumas and losses (Hesse, 2008). It is especially useful for future or young parents, people in the helping industry, and generally for people who feel they might have some attachment related problems.

I am a reliable coder of the AAI, if you have any questions about it, please shoot me an email.

My hope is that we collectively can move towards more security to ourselves and all others.

References:

Collaborative Formulation: Listening with an ear for attachment, Using markers of attachment to inform collaborative formulation. Dr Loyola McLean (2013).

Hesse, E. (2008). The Adult Attachment Interview Handbook of Attachment (2 ed.).

Self-Agency in Psychotherapy Attachment, Autonomy, and Intimacy Jean Knox,
PhD, MBBS, MRC Psych. (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology) . W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition (2011).

Schore, A. (2013). The Science of the Art of Psychotherapy. New York, London: W. W. Norton & Company.

Meares, R. (2005). The Metaphore of Play; Origin and Breakdown of Personal Being (3rd ed.). East Sussex, England: Routledge.

Levine, P. A., Frederick, A. (1997). Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma, The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences. California, USA: North Atlantic Books.

Hesse, E. (2008). The Adult Attachment Interview Handbook of Attachment (2 ed.).

Kathy Brous at https://attachmentdisorderhealing.com.

Wallin, D. J. (2007). Attachment in Psychotherapy New York The Guilford Press

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_enough_parent

 

 

Follow Brave Therapy on WordPress.com

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Free Masterclass to Help You Heal from Childhood Trauma

Break free from your past, heal your wounds, and live a life filled with self-love, peace & healthy relationships!

This is a fantastic and free online program by some of the leaders in the field of healing developmental trauma.

I hope you have a chance to watch, learn and heal.

Warmly

Andi

 

Follow Brave Therapy on WordPress.com

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Neurodharma

We’ve all had moments when our mind is calm, loving, happy, present, and awake to stillness and possibility. But for many of us, that quickly gets covered over with daily stresses, distractions, fears, and regrets.

In Dr. Rick Hanson’s new online program, Neurodharma, you’ll explore seven characteristics of the wisest people who’ve ever lived, and Dr. Hanson will guide you through developing them yourself in a step-by-step path of personal practice.

You’ll learn practical methods based on ancient wisdom and modern brain science for engaging life with stable mindfulness, a kind heart, and inner peace as you rest in the present moment while opening into everything, with a sense of unconditioned possibility.

This program will begin on June 25th and you can save $50 when you register by June 15. The program includes:
Over 15 hours of video teachings
Over 6 hours of guided practices
5 live calls where Rick answers your questions
8 weeks of guidance through email
Downloadable handouts and audio files
Discussion forums and a private Facebook group
Lifetime access and a 30-day full-refund guarantee
15 CE credits (when applicable)
Rick has pulled together the most profound and powerful insights and tools he knows for coming home to the deep, true nature in each of us, whether it’s gradually uncovered or suddenly revealed. Click here to register or learn more today!

Follow Brave Therapy on WordPress.com

Free Live Event Neurodharma by Dr. Rick Hanson

The person we long to be – and already are, deep down – is usually covered over with stresses, distractions, fears, and regrets. If you’d like practical tips for letting go of your suffering to uncover your true self, please check out this FREE webinar with my good friend and New York Times bestselling author Rick Hanson, Ph.D. In this special live event, you’ll get practical tips you can use right away to become more calm and clear, loving and happy, and wide open and fully present.
Follow Brave Therapy on WordPress.com

Take the first step towards healing now and contact me to book an appointment.

Knowing is not enough. We must apply. Being willing is not enough. We must do. - Leonardo Di Vinci

Sign up to the mailing list

Yes Please!
Discover the courage to live wholeheartedly