What is Attachment-Based Therapy
Attachment-based therapy is a style of counseling that can be used to treat mood disorders, anxiety disorders, unresolved childhood trauma, and relationship issues. This approach aims to help people address and resolve past traumas and attachment wounds that stem from childhood. Attachment-based therapists believe that these issues are at the root of common psychological issues and relationship problems.
Attachment-based therapy is a style of trauma-informed therapy that is based on attachment theory, which focuses primarily on the role of early interactions between a child and their adult caregivers.
Poor attachment styles are strongly connected to trauma and oftentimes children and adolescents will turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with these problems. As a result, many children and adolescents will present with substance use disorders and mental health disorders when in reality these stem from unhealthy childhood attachments.
This model of therapy draws from attachment theory, family systems, emotion focused therapy for couples, and behavioral therapies like CBT and DBT. Attachment-based therapy can also be combined with couples or individual counseling for those who did not have their emotional needs met in childhood. It is a trauma-informed, process-oriented model designed to help people strengthen their relationships with themselves and others.
Attachment-based therapy might be recommended for adults who:
- Experienced trauma, abuse, or neglect in childhood
- Struggle with complex trauma or have symptoms of a personality disorder
- Have strained or unhealthy relationships with their family of origin
- Have a previous or current diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Are unable to regulate their emotions or express them in healthy ways
- Have a tendency to get involved in unhealthy, abusive, or codependent relationships
- Have deep-seated trust issues that stem from childhood, are socially avoidant, or unable to form close relationships with people
- Struggle with intense fears of abandonment that cause problems in their relationships
- Struggle with OCD or high levels of anxiety
- Struggle with a substance use disorder
Benefits of Attachment-Based Therapy
While attachment-based therapy isn’t right for everyone, many people benefit greatly from this kind of treatment. Those who have a history of abuse, neglect, or childhood trauma may be especially likely to benefit from attachment-based therapy, as it is a trauma-informed approach.
Potential benefits of attachment therapy include:
- Feeling more secure and stable
- More positive and optimistic thinking
- Improved emotional regulation
- Improved social and communication skills
- Healthier relationships and fewer conflicts
- Improved parent-caregiver bonds (in kids and teens)
- Reduced symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses
- Improved parenting (for kids and teens in family therapy)
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