What is attachment based therapy

What is attachment based therapy


As you probably know there are quite a lot of different therapeutic approaches to choose from. Some say more than 400! There are also a lot of therapists who subscribe to different schools and philosophies and who, consciously and unconsciously, recommend that you choose a certain approach.

When you go to see your GP they are likely to refer you to a short-term CBT-based counselling or perhaps tell you straight that you would benefit from a longer-term or simply open-ended counselling. But even when you are ready and willing to embark on this life-changing journey, which type of therapy will you choose?

In fact, this question is more than valid: How does one choose the therapist and the therapeutic modality? It is a daunting task, I must say, and we, therapists, know exactly how difficult it is. After all we all have been there.

There are two issues that spring to mind. First is the choosing of the right therapist and second the already mentioned their therapeutic approach. Both decisions are crucially important as they may impact on your future view on the so called talking treatment.

I am now going to attempt to briefly describe one of the approaches – the attachment based therapy.

This approach is based on the attachment theory, which explains how early life relationships shape our adult relationships. Something which many people take for granted, but at the same time something which isn’t easily understood, unless explored and appreciated.

You can only begin to imagine how dependent you were as a child. You believed in literally everything your parents were telling you or in the way they were behaving with you. Why wouldn’t you? This was your world, this was your reality! In short this would have determined how you were responding to them in order to feel safe and secure. This in turn would have slowly created your own unique way of operating within intimate relationships, which is likely to be in operation right now, too.

The challenge is that what was working for you then, when you were a child, isn’t necessarily helpful now. You may find yourself feeling extremely challenged your partner expects you to be very close with them for an extended period of time or you may feel extremely confused when they tell you they need to be on their own. You may begin to wonder why they behave this way and whether they still love you at all? The truth is that the attachment based therapy can not only provide answers but can also help you learn how to navigate the difficult and often confusing feelings which arise whenever you get closer to someone or when you leave them, for that matter. If you happen to travel with work you may be familiar with these difficult and confusing feelings belonging to yourself or to your partner.

A lot of people come to therapy because they feel anxiety, deep sadness or depression, experience panic attacks or feel lack of motivation and also find no joy in things they used to enjoy up until fairly recently. Short-term therapy usually helps with managing the obvious presenting issues, which in many cases come back after some time. Longer term therapy, on the other hand, like the attachment based therapy, can help with identifying root causes of your today’s difficulties and through the safe and appropriately paced exploration with your well-meaning therapist you will are able to achieve more permanent and more satisfying changes and if you commit yourself then you have a chance to amaze yourself with the new life changing quality of your life. In order to get there the attachment based therapy usually takes some time as exploration of the mentioned early relationships is crucial and in case you have experienced trauma(s), quite challenging but also liberating.

There is also the case of choosing the right therapist. Research and experience show that the best and most effective therapies are carried out by people with whom we feel safe and whom we feel we can trust. Again, depending on your unique style of attaching to others, you will need some time to feel fully comfortable with your therapist – a stranger sitting opposite you in a strange room. But if you allow yourself to form this relationship, you will have a chance to create the changes within you that you have wanted for a very long time.

I recommend that you listen to yourself carefully. And when you do, you will know if your therapist is the right one for you.

Take care.