Secure Attachment: What Is It?
Throughout life, we will experience both good and bad relationships with people from the early stages of childhood all the way through adolescence and finally into adulthood. However, the way we build and respond to these relationships can be different for every individual. But why?
Well, it all stems from early childhood and primary caregivers – parents who provide nonverbal emotional communication and empathy which is critical to how the child turns out when they are an adult. Having this nonverbal emotional communication will eventually form into Secure Attachment.
What is a Secure Attachment?
Secure Attachment is a type of bond between a child and caregiver in which the child receives security, a sense of calmness, and understanding which is vital for their future development. The quality of nonverbal emotional communication is what matters here as children are reliant upon nonverbal means of communicating early on. Children that have a Secure Attachment are those who feel more protected by their caregivers, and know that they can rely upon them.
When the caregiver leaves, these children become upset, then happy on their return. There’s a dependence that is established in connection with the caregiver; a bond that can rarely be broken. From early childhood into adulthood, children with Secure Attachments tend to have better relationships. Secure attachments do not always form though based on a number of factors that go into this equation – and when they don’t, it can possibly have a lasting impact on the child growing up.
Is there an Insecure Attachment?
Overall, there are actually three types of Insecure Attachment which are:
Avoidant attachment is formed when the primary caregiver shows no care or responsiveness other than the essentials such as food and shelter. As a consequence, they will avoid physical touch or eye contact and rarely ask for help with anything. As an adult, this will impact their relationships.
Fearful-Avoidant attachment is said to be formed in part by a traumatic event during childhood. This means the child will be afraid of their caregiver but desperately need comfort from them. However, they will have learned not to trust those that give it to them due to the past trauma.
Anxious attachment is formed in part due to a genetic component as well as from experiences during childhood or later in life – such as with overprotective parents, abuse, or even neglect. When experiencing anxiety, they will seek comfort.
What happens when a Secure Attachment figure is no longer around?
Those with a Secure Attachment typically tend to seek comfort in their primary caregiver, but if that primary caregiver is no longer around, then they will look to two different strategies instead.
The first is a hyper activating strategy, which is used to magnify any distress, monitor attachment figures for signs of abandonment, and establish close proximity to a comforter. The second is a deactivating strategy, which is used to expend a lot of effort in order to divert attention away from distress-evoking stimuli and attachment-related thoughts or feelings.
During therapy, clients can use the hyper activating strategy to become dependent on the therapy relationship as a way of comforting themselves. Deactivating strategies can also be used, but this is done to resist emotional engagement and divert attention away from stressful memories.
It can be a problem if any of these are used in therapy settings as the client and therapist relationship needs to be stable. Your therapist will work with you to establish a stable relationship which can contribute to helping the client establish a secure relationship within the therapeutic space and ultimately with those around them.
Can therapy be useful in any way for people who have a Secure Attachment?
Secure attachment is the healthiest form of attachment. Typically, those with a secure attachment may not need as much therapy as their childhood and upbringing were mostly positive and stable. However, therapists can be viewed as ‘safe havens’ or ‘secure bases’ similar to primary caregivers by those who have had a secure attachment. For example, after a primary caregiver has passed away, the person with a secure attachment to them may seek out therapy. Subsequently, they could possibly develop a new secure attachment with their therapist. Becoming dependent on a therapist is not uncommon and attachment to the therapist is often valuable. But the therapist’s job is to help that person create the life they want moving forward. This can also be done by supporting clients to seek out brand new relationships with others. Therapy can be the doorway to helping people move on and become much happier.
Who to turn to for therapy in Warrington, Cheshire.
Therapy can be incredibly helpful in dealing with any emotional attachment issues.
Visit my website today to learn more about the support I offer. I am available for Zoom or in-person appointments to ensure there is an option to best suit your personal needs. Therapy gets right into the crooks and nannies of any problem you can possibly imagine. Whether it be a secure attachment or even any insecure attachment, I am here to help you. Get in touch to book an initial consultation.