Attachment Theories

San Francisco Psychotherapy Somatic Experiencing - Attachment TheoriesThis is really where it all starts. Bowlby ‘s insights on the attachment theory have showed us the importance of the first bonding with the caretakers. This is “Human Development 101”: the basics and the “must haves” of early infancy. This theory tells us how and why we become who we are and what needs to be done to change ourselves if we are unhappy with the outcome. If our caretakers are present emotionally, if they inspire safety and can comfort us, if they can hold our pains and our rages and allow us to grow and individuate and if they remain attuned to us throughout our early life, then we learn from good modeling and we are taught how to Relate in its purest form.

If, on the other hand, for as many reasons as one can imagine — our caretakers unresolved trauma, past history, losses, poor models, socio economic circumstances — we fail to receive these teachings, we suffer from these gaps created while we were growing up. We are not blaming our parents for what we did not receive: they did the best they could and they probably did not have all the tools to hold us in our own challenges. Nevertheless, as we grow up into adulthood, the gaps start to impair our capacity to relate, to feel fulfilled and even sometimes to find meaningful jobs. Self-esteem can be at stake, abandonment issues might pop up and as we enter adulthood, we lack direction and guidance and feel lost.

In therapy, we try to (re)-create a safe relationship. That’s where we heal the early wounds of difficult development. The safe alliance we build as a dyad allows us to intervene where a caretaker came short. This is done with compassion and respect for the work our parents did raising us.

A large part of working with attachment issues can be dealt with the Body Awareness and the Somatic Experiencing models, as well as the two newest approaches called The Bodynamic System and Integral Somatic Psychotherapy.