Attachment-Based Therapy benefits individuals including children and youth, as well as couples and families. It can help with concerns that arise as a result of negative early life experiences – for instance, difficulties in forming meaningful relationships with others, experiencing fear of abandonment or being alone, self-esteem issues, and many others. This approach is heavily influenced by John Bowlby’s attachment theory concerning interpersonal relationships in childhood and how this translates to one’s ability to develop healthy connections in adulthood. More specifically, the theory is centered on the attachment formed between the child and his/her primary caregiver from birth through the early years of development, and how this process is imperative for normal social and emotional development in the later years to come.
The 4 different types of attachment styles:
Secure attachment style: Individuals who have developed a secure attachment in childhood tend to have good emotion regulation skills and are flexible in their relationships. They are able to maintain healthy boundaries with themselves and others.
Avoidant attachment style: These individuals tend to be extremely self-reliant and emotionally distant in order to protect themselves from others.
Anxious attachment style: Individuals under this category tend to fear rejection, struggle with communicating their needs, and often need reassurance in their relationships.
Disorganized attachment style: These individuals tend to be emotionally dysregulated and struggle with emotional intimacy.
The goal of Attachment-Based Therapy is for the therapist and the client to develop a secure attachment within a therapeutic setting, and then for the client to apply the skills learned in this newly formed relationship outside of therapy. Through this process the therapist assumes the role of the mentor or attachment figure, which enables the client to refine their beliefs about themselves and others. As a result, the client learns to express his/her thoughts, feelings and behaviors, and communicate needs in a much more adaptive way, all of which ultimately yields positive results in relationships. Adopting a secure attachment style is beneficial for adult relationships, as well as relationships with one's children. Insecure attachment styles are learned and are passed down intergenerationally; however, these unhealthy patterns can be changed through effective therapy.
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American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Attachment-based psychotherapy in practice. https://www.apa.org/pubs/videos/4310926?tab=1.
Gould, W. R. (2021, November 1). What to know about attachment therapy. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/attachment-therapy-definition-techniques-and-efficacy-5203776#what-is-attachment-therapy.
Marriage. (n.d.). Abt therapy: What is attachment-based therapy? Marriage.com - Building World's Largest Marriage Resource. https://www.marriage.com/experts/types-of-therapy/attachment-based-family-therapy.