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Attachment Based Therapy Manhattan Beach

Attachment therapy was developed by Bowlby and Ainsworth in the early 1970s and it is really profound; there is a lot of information in what they've discovered that very much holds true today.  I myself and many of the other therapists in my group use attachment theory or the attachment method to work with clients on a regular basis.  It's also something to be paying attention to if you are a new parent or you have young children because ultimately what attachment theory talks about is that how critical our very first years of life are; typically from zero to five. So between when you’re very first born and five years old that's when our brain is soaking up and deciding how the world actually operates. Without this kind of baseline that we learn in zero to five we don't know how to function in the world. This really is a critical period in any person's life so depending on what your relationship is or was with your primary caretaker it has a lot of bearing on how you operate and how you move through the world. One of the things that Attachment Theory discusses are four attachment styles. Again these four styles were developed over time based on our relationship with our caregiver when we were between zero to five.


The first attachment style, which is the healthiest, is having secure attachment. This is when you have an adult and a child that are attuned to each other's needs and the parent is attending to the child's needs as the child communicates their needs to the parent. This sounds really simple but kids don't know how to talk it’s really hard for a parent to figure out what their needs are so having secure attachment is really hard work and unless you're paying attention as a parent to the needs of the child you often get one of the other three: avoidant, anxious or disorganized. Secure attachment means you have very low avoidance of intimacy and relationships and you have very low anxiety in general but definitely about relationships and intimacy.


The avoidant style of attachment develops when the child is avoidant of having any kind of intimacy or any kind of relationship and has and has low anxiety.

They just kind of avoid things you don't have to deal with it; that's someone that has avoidant. Now someone like this as an adult might show up as someone that really doesn't date or has never been married or has difficulty maintaining relationships because there's a little bit too much distance. So it's really about avoiding any kind of intimacy.


Anxious style is low avoidance high anxiety so that means someone that's in a lot of relationships and is really freaked out or stressed out by all of these relationships. They really desires to be in relationships but just doesn't know how to do it and don’t understand what it really means to have that kind of secure attachment or that secure intimacy in a relationship. That's someone who would be defined as anxious.


Then the last one is disorganized. This is a combination of anxious and avoidant.

This is both challenging and slightly paradoxical. With someone who is “Disorganized” in Attachment Theory there's quite a bit of avoiding and there's quite a bit of also engaging. This conflict causes the individual’s anxiety overall to be very high. This could manifest in someone that gets into a relationship and stays in that relationship for a very long time trying really hard to make it work. But they also know that the relationship is not working and are only “sticking it out” because being alone in their mind is even worse than being in a dysfunctional relationship.


The “Disorganized” profile is probably the most common and the most difficult for the person to operate with. When we are working with clients like this we're trying to figure out which kind of attachment style they may have and then we work with them on how to challenge those attachment styles. We figure out how they carry that in their body and in the way that they move in the world. Then we start work with them to develop into a securely attached personality or this securely attached way of being. It's a lot of hard work but it's not impossible.

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