Attachment Therapy

Attachment therapy is a form of treatment that is used to help children and adults who have experienced trauma. The goal of attachment therapy is to help the person feel safe and secure in relationships. This type of therapy can be helpful for people who have been exposed to abuse or neglect. Attachment therapy may also be beneficial for people who have difficulty trusting others or who are overly dependent on others. While attachment therapy can be helpful, it is important to seek out a therapist who has experience with this type of treatment.

Is attachment therapy expensive?

The cost of therapy can vary from person to person depending on what services are needed and the ergonomic needs of each individual.

In some cases, attachment therapy may be covered by insurance. The average session lasts for 10-40 minutes per week, with the frequency varying depending on what services are offered in your plan.

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.

  1. The 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.
  2. In anxious attachment, the individual has a negative perspective on himself and depends on others in order to feel valuable.
  3. In fearful-avoidant attachment, the individual looks negatively at both himself and others, avoids close relationships.
  4. In unregistered-rejecting attachment, the individual’s self-view is positive and negative towards others. He prefers to remain independent, avoiding close relationships.
attachment therapy 1

All these attachment styles are based on relationships with parents or caregivers and are transferred to later stages. On the other hand, they are rearranged when a person enters a romantic relationship. 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 certain behaviors that they do not approve of in their spouses and they may become angry, less tolerant, and even become hostile. This becomes the number one problem in family relationships. Additional environmental factors also fuel this situation.

Attachment problems are one of the most imperative problems in family relationships and can lead to various degrees of emotional vulnerabilities. They can also lead to a decline in the ability to combat stressful situations, express feelings towards other people, and other interpersonal skills.

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 by someone else damages people’s mental health.

Their basic idea is that no one will be there when they need it. There is 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

attachment styles
  • 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 caregiver 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, there might be some problems that occur in emotional development.
attachment therapy 2

What Are the Reasons?

This situation is likely to arise from the parents’ neglect of the child for various, and often involuntarily, situations. This negligence can have various reasons, such as:

  • 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 caregiver changes.
  • Growing as an orphan.
  • Postpartum depression of the mother.
  • 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?

  • Not reacting or reacting late when you call.
  • Not starting social communication spontaneously.
  • Not soothing easily when restless or crying.
  • Not minding the caregiver’s 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 imaginary games.
  • Inability in non-verbal communication: not using hand signs, waving by and by, not using gestures and facial expressions.
  • Delay in language and speech development.
  • Not repeating the phrases they hear or repeating what was said to them instead of replying to 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 are 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 be sent to an appropriate 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 the 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 December 10, 2022 by Lucas Berg


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