By: Megan Richardson, AMFT
The last blog post “More Than Just Skinned Knees…” talked about attachment. This is actually a pretty foundational theory for the therapists here at SDICF. It was developed by John Bowlby, a British psychiatrist who attended medical school AND did psychiatric training which included seven years of psychoanalysis...so the guy knew his stuff. This development led to some of the following concepts and is a basic tenet of the approach to therapy called Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) developed by Dr. Sue Johnson, which is the primary theory that our therapists at SDICF use in their work with couples.
The theory proposes that we develop our attachment style early in childhood as a result of our relationships with our primary caregivers, whoever those people were for us. This is often our moms and dads. When primary caregivers are abusive, when they leave, or even when they are just emotionally unavailable, they can leave us with huge wounds, or raw spots, and with an insecure attachment that can play into all of our significant relationships moving forward. Attachment theory conceptualizes four different styles of attachment: secure, anxious, avoidant, or disorganized. Though some of us might have seasons where we operate out of all four of them, we all typically have a “global attachment style,” meaning one that we mostly operate out of even when we are in more of a resting state, or not during a perceived crisis of some kind.
So why do we care about attachment and why does it matter what happened with my parents as a kid?
Well, it matters because it could be one of THE MAIN THINGS that affects all of your adult relationships, but particularly your relationship with your significant other. The goal is to have SECURE attachment because of the following…
When we feel generally secure, that is, we are comfortable with closeness and confident about depending on loved ones, we are better at seeking support AND better at giving it.
When we feel safely linked to our partners, we more easily roll with the hurts they will inevitably inflict, and we are less likely to be aggressively hostile when we get mad at them.
Secure connection to a loved one is empowering.
The more we can reach out to our partners, the more separate and independent we can be.
So maybe you do a bit more reflection or self-work and are a little freaked out because your attachment style does not fall into the secure category…do not be afraid of this. The amazingly good news is that our attachment styles CAN CHANGE. Just as humans can inflict some of the most painful wounds, humans can also be the greatest agents of healing in our lives. For now, it takes courage and boldness to face the truth about our past hurts, raw spots, and wounds. We have to recognize these truths and face their reality before we can take the steps to change, so take heart because there is always hope. And please reach out. #WeKnowHowToHelp.