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Attachment styles have been discussed since John Bowlby talked about them in the late 1960’s. He believed attachment to be all or nothing, meaning that we either have a healthy attachment or we don’t. Research has gone on to show that there is much more to attachment, and we now conclude that there are 4 main styles
Articles I read:
Different Attachment Styles:
1. Secure: When a child has this type of attachment they will feel easily soothed and safe when with their primary caregiver. If they are distressed, they will turn towards their caregiver, or seek them out in some way. This attachment is formed when a child knows they can count on their caregiver to be there for them when they cry, soothe them, and care for them. They will use this secure attachment as a safe base from which they can explore all that’s around them.
2. Insecure-Avoidant: Children do not attach to their caregiver because they don’t feel they can count on them. This usually means that their primary caregiver either hasn’t been there for them when they needed it or has been rejecting or dismissive of their needs altogether. When a child is in distress and has this type of attachment they will not seek contact with their primary attachment figure. In fact, they won’t even show a preference between their primary caregiver and a complete stranger.
3. Insecure Ambivalent: Children with this type of attachment will be clingy and needy of their caregiver, but when the caregiver comes to their aid they are rejecting of them and not easily soothed.
4. Disorganized: Children with this type of attachment will show a confusing mix of attachment behaviors and may even appear to be confused or disoriented. They believe that this attachment style is caused by inconsistency from their caregivers. Meaning that a parent may be soothing and helpful, but also fear-inducing and hurtful.
What does this mean for us as adults? Researchers have linked poor attachment to PTSD, ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) and CD (Conduct Disorder), as well as low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. They even find that we can struggle to have happy and healthy relationships with others as we get older.
So what do we do? Treatment options etc:
1. Working with a therapist to process through any trauma or upset you have in your past
2. Paying attention to how you respond or react in relationships and noting which things you would like to change or work on
3. Being mindful of your emotions - using feelings charts, the tools in DBT called "the story of an emotion", and working on describing certain emotions.
4. Notice what in your relationship triggers some of the more uncomfortable emotions. Bring this situation up in therapy so we can work on emotion regulation techniques like back burner, reducing your vulnerability to that trigger (PLEASE & HALT), building positive experiences (focus on the positive or good things each day).
5. Also, notice if you are not letting people in because you are afraid of what may come up. Begin by talking about this with your therapist. Avoiding any close relationship so that attachment issues don’t come up, doesn’t make anything better.
6. Medication can help too: ssri’s and snri’s have been used to help with depression or anxiety that may exist as a result.
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