Attachment Therapy


Developing the attachment theory, John Bowlby states that early childhood attachments and child-caregiver interactions are vital for life, and this is reflected in romantic relationships and marriages.

The search for closeness, the need for safe shelter and support, and separation anxiety lie behind attachment relationships. There are four different attachment styles acquired in early childhood.

Secure attachment also sees oneself as valuable, others as trustworthy, and feels comfortable with the intimacy and autonomy it establishes with the object of connection.

In anxious attachment, the individual has a negative perspective on himself and depends on others in order to feel valuable.

– In fearful – avoidant attachment, the individual looks negatively at both himself and others, avoids close relationships.

– In unregistered-rejecting attachment, the individual’s self-view is positive and negative towards others He prefers to remain independent, avoiding close relationships.

All these attachment styles are based on relationships with parents or caregivers, are transferred to later stages, but are rearranged when romantic relationships are entered. In most adults, attachment is shaped according to their partners and matures by becoming a certain internal pattern. Thought processes play an important role here. In adult attachment, it is essential whether a person finds himself worth affection and intimacy and whether he sees others as reliable or not.

Individuals who have not developed a secure attachment behave more reactively to behaviors that they do not see appropriate in their spouses, may approach hostile, become angry and become less forgiving. This becomes the number one problem in family relationships. Adverse environmental factors also fuel this situation.

Attachment problems are of vital importance in family relationships and lead to emotional vulnerabilities and dulling of internal and interpersonal coping skills in combating social stress. This destroys the ability to express positive feelings to the partner, such as commitment, closeness, forgiveness, and the basic basis of long-term relationships.

Cognitive processes have an important role in attachment as well as emotional processes. Those who develop a pattern of abandonment based on disconnection and rejection in their childhood are always afraid of losing those close to them. Illness, death, or the expectation of being abandoned for someone else spoils the psychology of these people.

Their basic idea is that no one will be there when they need it. There is a chronic anxiety and constant alertness towards loved ones. Such people display excessive possessiveness, extreme jealousy and controlling behavior in daily life. Sometimes they avoid close relationships to avoid the pain of abandonment. If a current loss occurs, it causes mourning first and then anger.

The abandonment scheme often goes hand in hand with the submission scheme. Here, the individual believes that if he does not make his wife’s wishes, he will be abandoned by his wife. At the cost of losing his integrity, the person has left his whole self to his partner. They believe that as soon as they are abandoned, they cannot function on their own. Their whole life has been to not disappoint their spouse.

Incompatible schemas of attachment and early attachments in the nuclear family are strengthened by experiences experienced in adulthood and are the most resistant mechanisms to change.

In family therapy, emotion and affect play a very important role in the therapeutic process. The main reasons for referral of couples seeking treatment were determined to be problematic communication and lack of feeling. Emotions are not conscious processes in general, but they prepare the individual for their actions and direct them to act in a certain way.

Primary emotional processes, along with emotional expression and mood, can be altered by the conscious mind. In this context, we can make the following definition. “The world described and experienced by the person, relationships with others, and the meaning of life depend on how we organize our emotions.” Temperament and attachment history play an important role in this arrangement. Affect regulation is a skill that we all have and stems from the mind’s ability to manipulate various emotional process components. Thus, emotions determine the way the mind evaluates internal and external events.

In summary, therapeutic approaches in child and family therapies are based on attachment theory and social learning theory.

Attachment therapy includes providing real-life interactions between the parent and the child, and especially increasing the parents’ sensitivity towards the child and regulating the way they react. This approach based on parent-child interaction involves helping the parents to be more aware of the child’s problem and addressing the factors that prevent the parent from reacting sensitively to the child. For this purpose, attachment therapy primarily helps parents to organize their attachment histories. Parents who will be provided with a corrective emotional experience to the child and parent that will strengthen the bonding and communication between the parents are actually helped to learn new parenting ways to ensure safe attachment to their children.

Attachment Styles

Childhood Reactive Attachment Disorder

It starts before the age of 5.

It manifests itself with problems in social communication.

It occurs as a result of the lack of healthy emotional bonding between the child and the person caregiving in the first years of life.

These children, who cannot achieve healthy emotional attachment, cannot develop a sense of trust in their environment, and consequently, problems occur in emotional development.

What are the reasons?

This is likely to arise from the parents’ neglect of the child for various reasons and often involuntarily.

This negligence can have various reasons.

  • Being a young and inexperienced parent.
  • Unwanted pregnancy.
  • Having twins or triplets.
  • Having children in a short time in a row.
  • Mother’s use of drugs and alcohol.
  • Having to leave mother early for some reason.
  • Frequent and frequent caregiver changes.
  • Growth in orphanages.
  • Postpartum depression of the mother.
  • Child spending long hours in front of TV, tablet and phone in the very early months.
  • The child is left alone for long hours while the mother works at home.

What are the Symptoms?

  • Don’t react or rarely react when you call.
  • Not starting social communication spontaneously.
  • Not soothing easily when restless or crying.
  • Not minding the caregiver disappearance.
  • Not alienating people.
  • Not making much eye contact for prolonged periods or rarely making eye contact.
  • Dislike or rejection of physical contact.
  • Not playing imaginery games.
  • Inability in non-verbal communication: not using hand signs, waving by and by, not using gestures and facial expressions.
  • Language and speech delay.
  • Do not repeat the phrase sentences they hear or repeat what was said to them instead of repeating them.
  • Making some repetitive motions with no purpose.

There are many overlapping symptoms between autism spectrum disorder and reactive attachment disorder. It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish severe cases from autism.

Features that differ from autism are;

  • Better capacity for mutual social relationships.
  • With the initiation and continuity of healthy and proper care, abnormal social reactions begin to improve over time.
  • Language and speech delay not as severe as autism.
  • Absence of severe cognitive retardation, which is common in my autism.

How Is It Treated?

  • The most important and indispensable element of treatment is to improve the care given to the child and to make it healthy.
  • Parents should increase communication with the child.
  • If possible, he / she must start nursery or kindergarten.
  • Initiation of speech and language therapy is often required.
  • For this purpose, it is essential to train parents about child care and to increase their skills;
  • If the mother has postpartum depression it should be treated.
  • If there is frequent caregiver change, this should be prevented.
  • The child should be prevented from spending long hours in front of TV, tablet and phone.
  • Reactive Attachment Disorder can be prevented by parents meeting the emotional needs of the child from birth. The child should be prevented from playing alone for long hours.

Last Updated on November 30, 2021 by William Lindberg

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About Author

He is studying psychology in Canada. Lucas also volunteers helping elderly people in nursing homes. Lucas, who is especially interested in hypnotherapy, continues his education and research in this field.

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