What is 'Attachment'?
Attachment is the way we form emotional bonds with those close to us. We are born evolutionally primed to attach to our caregivers to ensure survival. If all goes well in childhood and adolescence, we are made to feel safe and secure and our feelings are noticed, taken seriously and understood enough of the time, then we form secure attachments to our caregivers.
Secure attachment enables us to grow up to be healthy, well -functioning adults, with a positive view of our self and we have healthy, mutually satisfying relationships with those around us.
What can disrupt secure attachment?
For many people and for many reasons, early relationships are more difficult. Those who care for us may not be able or willing to provide security or safety, may not understand or help us when we are in distress, resulting in an insecure attachment style developing.
During our early years there may have been trauma or loss, such as, abuse or an accident, addiction, parental separation or divorce, parental or sibling death. Or the relational environment may have been harsh, rejecting, critical, abusive, chaotic, inconsistent, violent or neglectful.
How was Attachment Theory formed?
Dr John Bowlby and his colleagues were the first to notice and observe the connections between difficult or adverse early relational environments, ensuing insecure attachment styles and later mental and emotional health difficulties. Following much research on these connections, Attachment Theory came into being.
What is Attachment-Focused Therapy?
Attachment-Focused Therapy (sometimes called Attachment Based Therapy) is a therapy that is underpinned by Attachment Theory. A therapist working in this way will be interested in your early years, how you tell your life story and how you manage your emotions.
It is a very gentle, non- directive type of counselling/therapy that places much emphasis on building a solid, secure and safe relationship with the therapist.
Within this secure relationship, over time, client and therapist can begin to gently and in a non-threatening way, explore the links between current feelings, behaviours and thoughts and earlier experiences.
Thinking together about these links and experiences can help us make sense of the past, as well as current relationships and situations. Within this safe, therapeutic relationship new ways of thinking and being can begin to emerge.
How will it help?
It is possible to learn new ways of relating to our self and those around us, as well as learn how to manage and untangle difficult and overwhelming feelings.
It can be a very rewarding process, leading to self-discovery and increased self-awareness, which creates choice.
It can enable a person to live life with a more positive view of themselves and a growing ability to accept the past for what it was, not to be defined by it.
Clients often say their relationship with themselves as well as with those close to them, improve as a result of therapy.
What sort of issues can a person bring?
Attachment-Focused Therapy is suitable for anyone suffering with:
depression, anxiety, sadness, anger, bereavement, loneliness, relationship difficulties or breakdown, parenting or family difficulties, bereavement, low self- esteem or confidence, feeling stuck, childhood experiences, self- injury or any difficult and overwhelming feelings that are prolonged.
It can be particularly helpful for those who struggle with relationships
How many sessions will a person need?
Attachment-Based Therapy is not generally a therapy with a fixed number of sessions, unless of course requested by the client. It can be short or long term, depending on the client’s situation, needs and wishes.
I have a post-graduate diploma in Attachment-Based Therapy and I offer attachment-focused counselling in Thatcham, near Newbury, Berkshire.
Rosie Waters - Counsellor and Attachment focused therapist