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A psychologist's advice on attachment

Attachment is a positive, usually strong and long-term, including dependency, emotional connection between individuals that ensures a sense of security (Bagdonas and Bliums, 2019). Other authors (Lahousen et al., 2019) define attachment as a relationship in which the object of attachment is used as a safe haven in times of distress and as a basis for exploring the world. Attachment refers to the emotional connection between two people - it is an internal state of an individual characterized by identification with, love for, and desire to be with another person (Feeney, 2016).

Attachment theory was developed by Bowlby (1960, 1969, 1973, 1979, 1980) and Ainsworth (1969, 1989). Most often, this theory is associated with Bowlby, who analyzed how the emotional bond between the infant and the most important caregiver is formed and the consequences of separation from the object of attachment. Ainsworth et al. (2005) expanded the concept of attachment by describing the attachment process in the early years of life and examining individual differences in attachment. Ainsworth (1989) argued that in childhood, parents often function as people's primary attachment figures. However, as children reach adolescence, the stage of young adulthood, they begin to rely more on friends and romantic partners to meet their attachment needs. Ainsworth (1969) describes the attachment relationship of a child with its mother as one of the most important relationships established and maintained throughout life. She calls all these connections affective connections. An affective relationship is a relatively long-lasting relationship where the partner is important because it is unique and irreplaceable. These relationships are characterized by the need to maintain closeness, sadness at an inexplicable separation, joy and pleasure at reunion, and grief at the loss of a significant other. Affective bonds can be between a child and a mother, a child and a father, a pair of sexual partners, siblings, close friends, and a client and a therapist. The experience of early attachment and the type of attachment established during it determine the emotional regulation system and the nature of subsequent relationships. In summary, it can be said that although the attachment theory is primarily focused on the child's attachment to the caregiver, it later became the main theory for analyzing not only adult romantic relationships, but also sexual relationships.

Parents indirectly model the ways of emotion regulation, directly respond to the child's emotions, help them to recognize, become aware of and understand them, help to calm down and teach ways to regulate emotions. In this way, the child learns that all people experience emotions, emotions are not dangerous, emotions can be recognized by parents and they help regulate them, other people can be trusted. However, insecure attachment can result from parents who are too young, lack knowledge and experience, parental depression, parental addiction(s), physical and emotional neglect, neglect, violence, traumatic experiences (such as the loss of a father), and attachment figure volatility (nanny, parents, grandparents). As with early childhood, adult attachment can vary in quality. Four attachment types were distinguished: secure, anxious, avoidant, and fearful avoidant. In contemporary attachment theory and research, individual differences in attachment are understood in terms of attachment avoidance and attachment anxiety:

The secure attachment type includes persons whose relationships are not characterized by anxiety and avoidance. They are autonomous, seek relationships with others, trust themselves and others, have a belief that the world and other people are safe, feel safe when other people are close to them, believe that other people will be attentive and respect their wishes and feelings, are flexible , communicate openly with others, feels, believes that the other will be available when needed, is attentive to other people's emotions and thoughts, is able to stay with his emotions, feels that he can control life, relationships and arising stress.
Individuals with a preoccupied attachment type of relationship are characterized by high anxiety and low avoidance. They perceive themselves negatively, evaluate others positively. Such individuals are overly preoccupied and dependent on relationships. They need constant validation from others that they are valuable. You also need strong emotional connections, because feeling even the slightest distance from another person makes you feel insecure and worthless. Can be irritable, irritable, anxious, seeks attention from others in order to feel complete, seeks relationships at any cost, relationships - as a process where attention needs to be demanded, feels the danger of being abandoned, begins to feel hopeless, begins to provoke another person's attention, has a belief that does not influence the behavior of other people.
Dismissing attachment relationship type individuals are characterized by high avoidance and low anxiety. They perceive themselves positively, evaluate others negatively. The need for intimacy is satisfied or replaced by self-aggrandizement and complete autonomy, they claim that others are unnecessary and

don't care Ultimately, these individuals actually become indifferent to those around them, deny that they are experiencing grief, and downplay the importance of close relationships. They strictly control their emotions, underestimate their emotional experience, limit their need for closeness, are independent, independent, do not know how to reach other people, yet feel a deep (often negative, repressed) desire for a relationship.
People in the fearful attachment type of relationship feel high anxiety and avoidance. They evaluate themselves and others negatively. Although the need for social connections exists, a great fear, based on negative beliefs about oneself and others, forces one to avoid any closeness and intimacy. Characteristic features of both of the above-mentioned (anxious and avoidant) attachment remain, role reversal, aggressive, frightening, unable to deal with their own and others' emotions, demonstrating auto-aggression (self-harm), mistrusting others, relationships seem unpredictable, threatening, and can cause pain.
All these last three types of attachment (anxious, avoidant and fearful avoidant) are collectively called insecure attachment. Although researchers suggest that attachment type remains relatively constant throughout life, attachment style can change over the life course. If a person with an insecure attachment is in a secure, caring relationship, then the person's security increases. Conversely, if a person with a secure attachment is in a destructive relationship, experiences trauma, etc. i.e., then personal safety decreases. You can feel safer by exploring your feelings in a relationship, trying to understand how this feeling could have been formed and what it could depend on, communicating your needs and feelings to another person, achieving awareness in a relationship and assessing how much the feeling and need are about me (my personal responsibility), how much it is about the other person (e.g. their disappearance, violence), having a gentle internal monologue with themselves and of course a constant safe relationship, which can also be a therapeutic relationship.

The relationship between therapy and attachment type is particularly significant because attachment types are often explored and modified in a therapeutic setting. Here's how attachment therapy and attachment types relate:

Understanding Attachment Type: Therapy often begins with an assessment of an individual's attachment type. Therapists use this understanding to learn about clients' existing emotional patterns, relationship dynamics, and the origins of their emotional challenges. Assessing attachment style helps therapists tailor their approach to the client's specific needs.
Exploring Early Experiences: In therapy, clients can explore and process early experiences to discover how their attachment style developed and how it affects their current relationships and emotional well-being.
Healing Past Wounds: Clients with an insecure attachment style (whether anxious, avoidant, or fearfully avoidant) may have unresolved issues from the past that are affecting their current relationships and mental health. Therapy provides a safe space to identify and heal these past wounds, resulting in safer and healthier attachment patterns.
Secure Base: In therapy, the therapist can provide a secure base, similar to a secure attachment figure, through which the client can explore their thoughts, emotions, and past traumas. This secure base can help clients develop a more secure type of attachment when the therapeutic relationship is supportive and consistent.
Developing Secure Attachment: Therapists work with clients to help them develop more secure attachment patterns. This can include learning to trust others, express emotions in a healthy way, set boundaries and build self-esteem.
Addressing attachment issues: Clients with attachment issues such as fear of intimacy, jealousy, dependency, or avoidance of emotional closeness can work with a therapist to identify and overcome these challenges. Therapists can offer strategies and tools for exploring relationships more effectively and dealing with them constructively.
Enhancing Relationships: Attachment types have a significant impact on close, romantic, and intimate relationships and interpersonal dynamics. Therapy can help people with insecure attachment to communicate more constructively, resolve conflicts, and create healthier, more fulfilling relationships.
Self-awareness and emotion regulation: Therapy can enhance self-awareness and emotional regulation, which are essential skills for changing attachment style. Clients learn to recognize and manage their emotions and reactions more effectively, which in turn leads to healthier relationships.
In summary, therapy and attachment style are closely related because therapy provides a conducive environment for exploring and changing attachment patterns. It helps individuals understand the origins of their attachment style, heal past wounds, and build and maintain healthier and safer relationships.