What is attachment?

Attachment is a psychological term that relates to our early childhood experiences and how we bonded emotionally to other significant human beings, most often our parents or main caregivers in our early and formative developmental years.

Research and most psychologists and counsellors agree that our experiences of life in our early years effects how we interact and create friendships and relationships, how we maintain them and how successful they are in our adult lives.

So if we experience an early childhood where our emotional and physical needs were unmet we may be more likely to have problems as adults with commitment and with managing our close friendships and intimate relationships.

I worked with young children, teens, teachers and parents as part of the NSPCC school’s counselling team for several years and became fascinated with the theories and practice of attachment.

I came to understand that the early parenting we receive really does effect how we function on an interpersonal level as adults.

The good news is that by understanding our early experiences, we can change how we interact and connect with people.

If you have problems or barriers connecting with people, letting them in, trusting or long standing issues with relationships not working out, then maybe working on your early childhood relationships and your current relationships will help you to live a more fulfilling life and help you to connect in a more rewarding way with people in the future.

Attachment is used to define the emotional bond we have to another person, particularly the attachments children have with their main caregivers or parents.

Psychologist John Bowlby was the first attachment theorist, describing attachment as a “lasting psychological connected-ness between human beings”

Bowlby believed that the earliest bonds formed by children with their caregivers have a tremendous impact that continues throughout life.

According to Bowlby, attachment also serves to keep the infant close to the mother or main caregiver, thus improving the child’s chances of survival. The central theme of attachment theory is that mothers/parents/caregivers who are available and responsive to their infant’s needs establish a sense of security.

The infant knows that the caregiver is dependable, which creates a secure base for the child to then explore the world and later become fully functioning.

The type of Attachment we had as a child has a direct link with how able we are to feel comfortable in a relationship with significant others, partners, parents and ourselves, attachment has an impact on making the right relationship choices and to a large degree, how happy we can feel as individuals and as adults in all of our close relationships.

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There are four parenting styles – each affect attachment differently

Secure Attachment

This is considered the ideal relationship between the primary caregiver and the child. The child demonstrates a willingness to explore a new environment confidently while the primary caregiver (or parent) is in close proximity. The child may become upset when left alone or with a stranger but greets the primary caregiver or parent happily upon his or her return and actively seeks comfort from them.

Insecure – Avoidant Attachment

When the primary caregiver or parent left the child alone for the first time these children were not upset and avoided contact once the caregiver or parent returned. After the primary caregiver or parent left the child alone a second time, the child was visibly upset, but still avoided the caregiver/parent upon their return.

Insecure – Resistant Attachment

These children became extremely upset when left by the primary caregiver/parent. When they returned the infant alternately sought contact and then actively pushed them away.

Insecure – Disorganized Attachment

This was classified by later researchers as children who seemed sort of dazed by being reunited with their primary caregiver/parent. They froze mid-movement or engaged in repetitive behaviours.

Paul Parkin Online Counselling, Therapy and Life Coaching.

Paul Parkin Online Counselling, Therapy and Life Coaching.

We can become fully functioning even when we had the poorest of starts in life, there are many famous stories of people who had terrible early years experiences, only to go on and excel in life.

In reality, there are millions of people who do that and overcome emotional, physical, neglect and sexual abuse to make a very worthwhile and happy existence.

There are others who need a little help. If you feel your early start was less than what you needed, please contact me and I will help you make sense of your past and work with you for a better, happier future.

I am an experienced and qualified counsellor and life coach, specialising in attachment, I have studied attachment and worked with many children and adults affected by attachment issues, the resulting behaviours of the different types of attachment. and the problems which we may experience as a result of not getting the right start.

Whatever your problem is, whether its one big problem or a whole host of niggling smaller problems, I will help you. Having someone to really listen to your worries helps.

Using my 15 years experience of actually working as a counsellor, (11 years online) using tried and tested counselling and life coaching strategies to help you find your way again, I will help you to take control of your life, starting Today!

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