Attachment Theory

Attachment Theory

Understanding attachment theory for human development is very important. Especially when used as an approach in counseling. It has tried to provide a deeper understanding of the dynamics of close relationships.

Attachments can be healthy. More times than not we are unaware of unhealthy patterns and systems of attachment to others, societal, religious beliefs and the conditioning of our childhood.

Insecure styles of attachment include:

  • anxious-preoccupied
  • dismissive-avoidance
  • fearful-avoidance

Those individuals with anxious-preoccupied attachment tend to be clingy and impulsive. People exhibiting a more dismissive avoidance style become more emotionally withdrawn from partners. They seek less intimacy in their relationships. Those exhibiting fearful-avoidance style, show considerable fear in their relationships. They fear being close to others as well as the fear of loss.

Attachment Theory

Adult attachment 2 Types

Adult attachment anxiety

This is characterized by fear of rejection, the need for constant approval from others and generally a negative self image.

Adult attachment avoidance

This is characterized by an excessive need for self reliance. Out of this need stems fear of intimacy and a negative view of other people. You are slow to open up to others. The avoidance of negative feelings forms.

Even though attachment patterns are difficult to change in adulthood, it is possible if one is willing to be honest. Take a look at themselves and get real. The attachment theory provides a very solid foundation for understanding how an individual developed the ineffective coping strategies. It also helps in the understanding of complexities of emotional difficulties.

Counseling uses this theory to help clients understand earlier experiences with those who took care of them. Therapy seeks to understand the direct influence they had that form the coping mechanisms. These mechanisms, however much they worked to protect them initially, are responsible for their mental and emotional state currently.

Attachment Theory and Counseling

seeks to assist in various ways:

  • By challenging this idea and need to be “perfect”. The need to seek perfection on the outside is distorted thinking.
  • It peels back the layers of childhood conditioning that no longer serve a purpose.
  • By understanding that nothing we attach to outside of self brings happiness and fulfillment.
  • Studies show that constant need to attain perfection is linked to depressive symptoms. Counseling focuses on modifying the perfectionist tendencies of such individuals.
  • Using the attachment theory, counselors can also assist clients find alternative means to satisfy their unmet needs. Helping individuals find other means to cope is one way of solving their problems. Those suffering from depression, anxiety and different fears will cope better when provided with options of meeting their needs. The attachment theory is critical in understanding how the client got to that position in the first place. Seeking alternative ways to cope with their deficiencies is important.