Frequently Asked Questions About Attachment-Based Therapy

Human beings are social species. The quality of relationships we build with others can certainly contribute to our overall well-being. Without positive and nurturing relations, our minds and body can suffer. 

One way we can evaluate our relationships is to look into our attachment style. It refers to how we relate to others and how we feel about important people in our lives. 

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Attachment cultivates even in the early stages of development. We learn from our experiences in childhood. But also, the type of care we receive from our parents does influence our attachment styles. Altogether, these experiences in our early years impact us and often affect how we bond with others in adulthood. 

The attachment-based approach therapy identifies the connection between the child and their primary caregiver. 

The premise of this type of therapy is that if a child’s caretaker, who is usually the parent, can tend to the child’s needs, the child will develop the ability to form healthy relationships as they turn into an adult. 

An attachment-based approach in therapy is useful in individual, couple, group, and family therapy. Moreover, both children and adults can use this approach. 

Attachment-focused family therapy may be used with children when they have attachment issues. It can also help the whole family that aims to rebuild trust.

With adults, attachment-based therapy can help them navigate and form secure relationships or address attachment issues.

This form of therapy may help foster children, adopted children, children of depressed parents, and trauma victims (i.e., children of separated parents, children who have been abused sexually or otherwise mistreated, especially by their caregivers).

Ultimately, attachment-based therapy aims to guide individuals in building or rebuilding trusting and supportive relationships. It helps in preventing or treating conditions such as anxiety or depression.

What are the four attachment styles?

Attachment styles are usually developed early in life and become the basis of how adults approach relationships. The first style is secure-autonomous, characterized by low avoidance and low anxiety. The second style is avoidant-dismissing, where high avoidance and low anxiety are vital features.

The third style is anxious-preoccupied, which is high on anxiety and low on avoidance. The fourth style is disorganized-unresolved, characterized by high levels of avoidance and anxiety.

What is the best therapy for attachment disorder?

Interpersonal therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy have been successful in treating attachment disorders. The former is a structured treatment focused on improving your interpersonal functioning. The latter will help you identify and replace harmful thoughts and beliefs that may unknowingly influence your behavior.

How is attachment theory used in Counselling?

Since the attachment theory places importance on your relationship with your caregiver, counselors will help you identify that relationship’s nature to explain your current predicament.

If you grew up in an emotionally dysfunctional environment, you might have developed an insecure attachment style and a flawed sense of self. A counselor or therapist can help you rewire or reduce the impact of these patterns.

What is the attachment cycle?

The attachment cycle suggests that infants and their primary caregiver’s relationship affect their development in critical ways. It begins when a baby with an unmet need cries to draw attention. If those needs are met, then trust develops between the infant and the caregiver, but if they remain unsatisfied, then mistrust can take root.

If an infant grows up in a warm and caring environment, they usually form relationships in adulthood that mimic these characteristics and vice versa.

How do you fix the anxious attachment style?

If you’re highly anxious about your relationships, it’s useful to find healthy ways to process difficult emotions. Try sharing your concerns with a trusted friend, or consider seeing a therapist who can help you build self-regulation strategies.

Examine your previous relationships to identify any harmful practices that you may be unknowingly bringing to the table. Talk to your partner about your fears so you can work on them together.

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What are the signs of attachment disorder in adults?

Adults with attachment disorder usually exhibit child-like behavior when it comes to emotion regulation and management. They have trouble reading emotions and showing affection. They are prone to intense emotional outbursts and display other self-destructive behaviors.

Do I have an attachment disorder?

It’s hard to perform self-diagnosis since attachment disorder comes in many forms. However, suppose you find it hard to make meaningful connections with other people and identify with any of the four insecure attachment styles. In that case, consider seeing a therapist.

What does insecure attachment look like?

It differs per person. They may avoid the company of others or display overtly clingy behavior. In some cases, they may exhibit behavior from both extremes.

What are the symptoms of attachment disorder?

Individuals with attachment disorder usually find it challenging to build and maintain healthy relationships. They are also likely to have trust and control issues. Instead of finding refuge in the company of others, they withdraw unto themselves and resist efforts at building a connection. They may also suffer from poor self-image, anxiety, and depression.

What causes poor attachment?

There is no definitive cause, but studies suggest that a child that grew up in a non-supportive environment may grow up with attachment problems. Without experiencing secure and consistent relationships with their primary caregivers, children may develop an insecure attachment style that can haunt them into their adult years.

What is attachment anxiety?

It refers to anxiety that arises from a person’s relationships with a partner, friend, or family member. Attachment anxiety is usually traced to unpleasant childhood experiences but can persist into adulthood.

How do you fix attachment issues?

A person with attachment issues has ineffective coping strategies that prevent them from forming healthy relationships. The first step is to recognize these harmful patterns. You can try writing down your thoughts and feelings in a daily journal.

Consult with a professional if your attachment anxiety has become disabling. A doctor will help you reframe irrational thoughts, support you in building helpful coping mechanisms, and prescribe medications if needed.

How do you break an attachment?

Before you break an emotional attachment, try asking yourself why you entered the relationship first and why it’s in your best interest to move on. Once you get clear on these reasons, you can build a stronger sense of self by doing the activities you enjoy. Make time for art, travel, and self-discovery. At the same time, focus on maintaining ties with people that make you feel secure and loved.

How do I change avoidant attachment?

If you avoid closeness and value self-sufficiency to a fault, you can try opening up to the other party in small increments. Schedule an activity that you both enjoy. Ask thoughtful questions and listen actively. It can be hard to rewire avoidant attachment but focus on building intimacy step by step.

Attachment style determines so much of how we relate to the world. It helps explain why we operate in a certain way within relationships. It may help us navigate the problems with our family as well as with friends and at work. 

In making sense of our relationships as adults, it is important to look into our early childhood experiences. We determine how and why we function as we do or how it can affect us later on in life. Thus, in attachment-based therapy, you can expect to talk about your childhood issues and how they might come up in your current relationships. 

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For children or young adults, attachment-focused therapy aims to repair the family relationship. Here, the therapist will initially deal with the individual client alone. Later on, the therapist can work with the family as a group. The therapist guides the family on how to strengthen further the parent and child relationship. Meanwhile, the child will also need guidance so they can be a confident and independent adult. 

For adults, the therapist’s objective is to help the client overcome negative early attachment issues. It begins by establishing a strong connection between client and therapist.

The therapists should be able to make the client feel understood and supported. Once this is set, the therapist can encourage the client to share more. Through this, they can better examine past experiences’ relation with current feelings and behaviors better. 

The therapist will help you navigate the primary confusion, unpleasant memories, and difficult feelings. From there, the goal is to develop a greater knowledge of yourself. With this, you may achieve self-acceptance and happiness in yourself. 

Attachment-based therapy is open-ended. Essentially, the patient and the therapist decide on the end of the process. This approach is very gentle and is a fulfilling process in the end.

Attachment-based therapy does not require a long-term commitment. Once you feel you’re doing better, you can always inform your therapist. 

Because the relationship between client and therapist is important here, finding a therapist that is a good fit for you is essential. You can approach any mental health professional or licensed clinician qualified in an attachment-based treatment approach.

Once you find a licensed therapist with the experiences you’re looking for, make sure you’re comfortable with them. Therapists play a vital role as the secure base in exploring your attachment issues. 

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