Discover what every therapist needs to know about Attachment Disorder in adults
Attachment Theory vs. Temperament: Treating Attachment Disorder in Adults
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Five hundred people sat in a packed workshop at the Networker Symposium recently, listening to eminent developmental psychologist and researcher Jerome Kagan draw on more than four decades of research he’s conducted as he discussed the clinical relevance of inborn temperament.
Midway through the session, responding to a question from the audience, Kagan tried to clarify an earlier–seemingly disparaging–comment he’d made about Attachment Disorder in adults and the theory behind it.
But he soon removed any possible doubt about where he stood. “I’m glad that attachment theory is dead,” he said. “I never thought it would go anywhere.”
There was a moment of stunned silence, followed by a low hum as people shifted in their seats and murmured to each other.
During the last 15 to 20 years, this theory has exerted more influence in the field of psychotherapy than just about any other model, approach, or movement.
Though not a clinical methodology, the theory has justified a whole range of therapeutic perspectives and practices. Among them are:
- A particular sensitivity to the role of traumatic or neglectful ties with early caregivers
- The fundamental importance of affect regulation to successful therapy
- The importance of establishing relationships with clients characterized by close, intense, emotional, and physical attunement
- The ultimate goal of recreating in therapy an attachment experience that makes up, at least to some degree, for what the client missed the first time around
So when Kagan delivered his offhand rebuke, he was raising fundamental questions about the evidence supporting findings that most therapists present considered not just theory, but well-established fact.
Suddenly, in the wordless void that followed Kagan’s bombshell, psychiatrist, brain researcher, and staunch attachment theory proponent Daniel Siegel asked for a microphone and announced: “I can’t let this audience listen to your argument without hearing the other side.
The other side can be read in our special report, Attachment Theory vs. Temperament: Treating Attachment Disorder in Adults.
How to Stay in the Right Brain and Connect With Clients
Typically as an adult, attachment disorder has made those suffering with it isolated, unaware of the emotional poverty of their life, and disdainful of the idea that they might even want or need more personal connection. In fact, they’d probably never show up in therapy unless their partner—wanting a warmer, less distant relationship—insisted.
This isn’t psychotherapy for the fainthearted. Any therapist dealing with Attachment Disorder in adults must stay present, not only to the client’s emotions, but also to their own.
In attachment-based therapy, the therapist is asked to stay in the right brain and fully experience the client’s feelings, no matter what comes up for her or what raw emotion is triggered from her own history. In other words, the therapist isn’t just an observer of the client’s emotional journey or even a disinterested guide, but a fellow traveler, resonating with the client’s sadness, anger, and anxiety.
In this FREE special report you will discover the necessity of:
- Keeping the client feeling understood, safely held and supported through the proper tone of voice, eye contact, expression, posture, and words.
- Staying in the right brain and fully experiencing the client’s feelings, no matter what comes up for her or what raw emotion is triggered from your own history
- “Triocular” vision: The ability to be in the client’s mind, in your own mind, and in between the two minds, establishing and maintaining between yourself and the client mutually.
As attachment disorders became a more established diagnosis, it didn’t provide an accompanying toolbox of tactics and techniques, though it did offer a new therapeutic attitude, justifying deep, soul-felt work, which offered a genuinely new beginning toward treatment for attachment disorder in adults.
In Attachment Theory vs. Temperament: Treating Attachment Disorder in Adults, we’ve created a history of attachment theory, the disorder, and how it’s properly diagnosed and treated.
You’ll discover more about:
- The Strange Situation and how it became the most widely used standardized way of measuring shifting emotions between a mother and child over the course of a short period of time.
- Why infants aren’t passive recipients of oral gratification (the Freudian view) but actively seek contact with their mothers and vigorously protest when it’s denied.
- Why maternal deprivation produces psychiatric disturbances, and how maternal deprivation in infancy and childhood progresses into adulthood.
- The Adult Attachment Interview that contained 20 open-ended questions about people’s recollections of their own childhood, and was “the single most important development in attachment research over the last 25 years.”
- Why attachment therapy is so necessary for clients looking to maintain a happy marriage and how adult couples get stuck in the role of perpetually needy children.
- Whether the therapist in attachment-based work can become too important as the central, and perhaps only, reparative figure in the client’s life.
- Why much, or even most, of this therapy is intuitive, played out in “enactments”–what Allan Schore calls emotionally charged moments between therapist and client that are “fundamentally mediated by non-verbal unconscious relational behaviors within the therapeutic alliance.”
Attachment theory suggests that what matters most in a clinical relationship is the therapist’s capacity for emotional attunement—the ability to hear, see, sense, interpret, and respond to the client’s verbal and nonverbal cues in a way that communicates to the client that he/she is genuinely seen, felt, and understood.
If you want to learn more about attachment theory and the techniques therapists are using to treat clients with attachment disorders, download this FREE special report.