On Saturday the 30th of June the TLC Counselling Hub attended a 6 hour study day on attachment with one of the leading speakers of the field Jeff Lane. Why does that matter we hear you say. It matters because attachment lays the foundations for how we fundamentally form relationships with others.
Our style of attachment affects everything from our partner selection to how well our relationships progress, the choice of friendships we form to, sadly, how they end. That is why recognizing our attachment pattern can help us understand our strengths and vulnerabilities in our relationships. An attachment pattern is established in early childhood s and continues to function as a working model for relationships in adulthood.
So are there different attachment styles?
Mary Ainsworth (1970) a leading psychologist of her time, identified three main attachment types, secure type, insecure avoidant type and insecure ambivalent/resistant type. She proclaimed that these attachment styles were the result of early interactions with the primary caregiver e.g. mother, father, grandparents ect.
A fourth attachment type known as disorganized was later identified by (Main, & Solomon, 1990).
Secure Type of Attachment
Such children feel confident that the attachment figure will be available to meet their needs. They use the attachment figure as a safe base to explore the environment and seek the attachment figure in times of distress. Securely attached adults tend to be more satisfied in their relationships. A secure adult has a similar relationship with their romantic partner, feeling secure and connected, while allowing themselves and their partner to move freely.
Insecure- Avoidant Type of Attachment
Insecure avoidant children do not orientate to their attachment figure while investigating the environment. They are very independent of the attachment figure both physically and emotionally. They do not seek contact with the attachment figure when distressed. Such children are likely to have a caregiver who is insensitive and rejecting of their needs and is often unavailable during times of emotional distress.
Unlike securely attached couples, people with an anxious attachment tend to be desperate to form a fantasy bond. Instead of feeling real love or trust toward their partner, they often feel emotional hunger. They’re frequently looking to their partner to rescue or complete them. Although they’re seeking a sense of safety and security by clinging to their partner, they take actions that push their partner away.
Insecure Ambivalent/Resistant Type of Attachment
Here children adopt an ambivalent behavioral style towards the attachment figure. The child will commonly exhibit clingy and dependent behavior, but will be rejecting of the attachment figure when they engage in interaction. The child fails to develop any feelings of security from the attachment figure. Accordingly, they exhibit difficulty moving away from the attachment figure to explore novel surroundings. When distressed they are difficult to soothe and are not comforted by interaction with the attachment figure. This behavior results from an inconsistent level of response to their needs from the primary caregiver.
People with a insecure ambivalent style of attachment have the tendency to emotionally distance themselves from their partner. They may seek isolation and feel “pseudo-independent,” taking on the role of parenting themselves. They often come off as focused on themselves and may be overly attending to their creature comforts. They are often psychologically defended and have the ability to shut down emotionally.
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