Attachment Based Psychotherapy
Attachment based psychotherapy is an approach that specifically targets thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that have been suppressed or avoided since early childhood years. Attachment in psychotherapy looks at this connection between an infant’s early experiences with parents or other caregivers, and the ability to develop normally into healthy adulthood.
Find out more about attachment and psychotherapy here…
Types of attachment
Early experiences in childhood are important as they influence development and behaviour later on in life. Early attachment styles are established through the parent or caregiver’s relationship with the infant.
Psychotherapists have identified four distinguishing characteristics of attachment in infancy and these are:
- Security – formed when consistently given care and comfort by caregivers allowing exploration of the environment
- Safety – going to this attachment figure for comfort when threatened or scared
- Proximity – the desire to be near people who’ve formed this attachment
- Distress –anxiety displayed when the attachment figure is absent
Adulthood studies of attachment
Adults showing these continued attachment styles may differ in how they deal with emotional intimacy, abilities to communicate emotions, modes of responding to conflict, and expectations about relationships. However, these aren’t necessarily identical to childhood attachments.
Attachment patterns are passed down from one generation to the next. This history plays a crucial role in how you relate in adult relationships, and how you relate to your children. Studies have shown that securely attached children become adults that have trusting, long-lasting relationships, good self-esteem, and are able to share feelings with partners and friends.
Children that avoided contact and didn’t seek comfort from parents, as adults may have issues with intimacy, and find it difficult to communicate thoughts or feelings with others, whilst children that became greatly distressed when separated from caregivers often show a reluctance to become close to others and worry that they’re not loved as adults.
It’s been proven that the earliest relationships with caregivers do impact adult relationships, although intervening experiences can also play a part in adult attachment styles.
Who benefits from attachment based therapy?
This approach can be used for individual, couples, or family therapy, with both children and adults. Focusing on fractured family relationships this technique may also help children in foster care, children of divorce, and victims of trauma.
Children who’ve been mistreated or abused at the hands of a caregiver and children of depressed mothers are also able to build a trusting, supportive relationship with the therapist and then have these new values projected into everyday life.
Attachment based family therapy has also been helpful in treating young adults with anxiety and depression, and those thinking about suicide. And this type of therapy is also compatible with other forms of treatment.
Looking for an attachment based therapist?
According to attachment psychotherapy theories, it’s possible for adults with negative attachment styles to maintain healthy relationships when guided by a mental health professional who understands the attachment process.
Successful attachment based therapy works when a safe setting is provided and boundaries stay secure and confidential. This then becomes the starting point of a relationship between you and your therapist that encourages trust and allows focus on the deepest emotions.
An initial consultation will allow further sessions to be concentrated on the issues that are causing the problems, including questions about your early life. This will enable your therapist to create long-term changes that let you live a happier and healthier life.
Making these changes needs commitment and hard work, but with ongoing help and support, the lifestyle you desire will be achievable. Bear in mind that the relationship built with your therapist will allow you to discover the impact that important relationships have on your life – whether they be past or present.