I just finished Attachment In Therapeutic Practice by Jeremy Holmes and Arietta Slade.
Attachment In Therapeutic Practice is about attachment theory and how this understanding of human development and behavior can be used in psychotherapeutic practice. Even with 49 years of experience in the mental health field as a Psychiatric Social Worker, I am still learning more every day. Many of the ideas that Holmes and Slade describe I have been familiar with, and their way of connecting the dots is very helpful.
A human beings attachment style gets set in the first two years of life and is determined by a number of factors. The primary factor is the interaction between the infant and the primary caregiver. This interaction contributes to four attachment styles: secure, anxious, avoidant, and disorganized. I have come to realize that I have an avoidant attachment style which was formed by a relationship with my father in which I was afraid of him, and a relationship with my mother which was somewhat secure but at times questionable.
There are many components of attachment styles and one of the most significant is trust. Here's how trust plays out in attachment styles:
- Secure - I usually trust that people will like me and I can depend on them.
- Anxious - I never know for sure whether people will like me and I can depend on them.
- Avoidant - I know that you can't depend on other people. The only person you can depend on is yourself.
- Disorganized - I know people won't like me and bad things usually happen to me.
These "internal working models" IMWs, are usually unconscious. They significantly affect our relationships with ourselves and other people. Which pairings do you think might be the happiest on long term committed relationships like marriage?
Also, the client's attachment style has significant implications for work with a psychotherapist which involves developing a helping relationship. A psychotherapist must be aware and skilled to develop different relationships with clients based on the client's attachment style.
This is article #1 in a series on attachment theory.