One of the most common themes that come up in therapy is attachment styles and how they affect our relationships. Attachment theory is a framework that helps us understand how early childhood experiences shape our ability to form and maintain healthy relationships as adults.
According to attachment theory, our early experiences with caregivers form the basis for our internal working models of relationships. These internal working models are mental representations of ourselves and others, which guide our behaviors and expectations in close relationships. Attachment styles are the different ways in which we relate to others based on these internal working models.
There are four main attachment styles: secure, anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant, and fearful-avoidant. Secure attachment is characterized by a belief in oneself as worthy of love and the ability to trust and depend on others. Anxious-preoccupied attachment is characterized by a fear of abandonment, a preoccupation with relationships, and a tendency to cling to partners. Dismissive-avoidant attachment is characterized by a dismissive attitude towards relationships and a tendency to avoid emotional intimacy. Finally, fearful-avoidant attachment is characterized by a fear of rejection and a tendency to avoid or be ambivalent towards relationships.
At Lotus Therapy & Counselling Centre, we have found the Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP) approach to be particularly effective in addressing attachment issues. AEDP is a therapeutic approach that helps clients transform negative emotions into positive growth experiences. Through AEDP, clients learn to regulate their emotions, deepen their connections with others, and build secure attachments.
One of the most important aspects of AEDP is the emphasis on emotional processing. AEDP therapists work with clients to identify and process emotions that are stuck or unresolved. This can be especially helpful for clients who have experienced childhood trauma, which can interfere with the development of healthy attachment styles.
Childhood trauma can have a significant impact on attachment styles. Children who experience neglect, abuse, or other forms of trauma may develop insecure attachment styles as a way to protect themselves from further harm. For example, a child who experiences neglect may develop an anxious-preoccupied attachment style as a way to get their caregiver’s attention and ensure their survival.
It is important to note that attachment styles are not set in stone. With the help of a skilled therapist, clients can learn to recognize and change their attachment patterns. If you are struggling with attachment issues in your relationships, I invite you to book a 15-min consultation with one of our therapists.