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How Can Attachment Theory Help Me in Therapy?

When you are seeking therapy and looking for a psychologist to work with, an important question to ask is, “What do you base your therapy style on?

Attachment Theory is an approach I utilize in my practice. When I work with a client, it is my job to build a relationship with them based on trust. Often because of past relationships, a client may need to learn how to rebuild trust. The goal then becomes learning how to express their emotions.

So what exactly is Attachment Theory?

Psychology Today describes Attachment-Based Therapy as “a client-therapist relationship based on developing or rebuilding trust and centers on expressing emotions. British Psychologist, John Bowlby, originally developed Attachment Theory. He proposed that a strong early attachment with at least one primary caregiver is necessary for children. His belief was that without a healthy foundation, or attachment, babies grow to be fearful, and insecure, ultimately become depressed as teens and eventually as adults.”

The article explains,“the attachment-based approach to therapy examines the bonds between an infant’s early attachment experiences with their primary caregivers, usually their parents, and their ability as an adult/teen to develop normally and ultimately form healthy emotional and physical relationships.”

This style of therapy can be used in individual, family, couple, and group therapy, with both children and adults. The goal is to help clients heal or recover from fractured family relationships and to build or rebuild trusting, supportive relationships that will help prevent or treat anxiety or depression.

In my professional experience, teens that are depressed, or even suicidal, can have success employing attachment-based family therapy. I meet with the individual teen alone and also with their family as a group. We work to strengthen the bonds with their parents and to help the young person evolve into a self-sufficient adult.

When I have an individual adult client, we work to move past the effects of those early adverse issues of attachment so we can understand how their current feelings and behavior may correlate to their early experiences. And by becoming more aware, a client can learn how to communicate more openly.

Attachment-Based Theory can be a great therapy style for some clients but it’s not for everyone. I always strive to find which type of therapy might work best depending on each individual’s need. I think it is so important to have the right fit between therapist and client so you can get the most out of your work. When you’re comfortable, you’re more open and able to share what you may need to move yourself in the right direction for your life.

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